Writing as a Social Act

Writing is a social act.  Once a writer sets their thoughts to any medium, whether paper, blog, status update, there is the potential for audience interaction.  Andrea Lunsford has found that this potential for audience, or even the knowledge of a predetermined audience, helps students engage more with their writing.  She has also found that, contrary to what many English instructors fear, text speak (at least at Stanford) does not make its way into students’ academic writing — this indicates that students today are far more aware of audience than students of previous generations.  Much of our lives are now taking place in writing.

The role of the academic institution is changing in that instructors now have to rush to catch up to the students that they are teaching.  The way that an 18 year old in 2010 views content, form and audience is vastly different from how an 18 year old just ten years earlier might have.  For some the new web and technologies are exciting, for others they are terrifying.  Both the CCCC Position Statement and the Chickering/Eherman article emphasize the need for regular student/faculty interaction.  The C/E article says, “Communication technologies that increase access to faculty members, help them share useful resources, and provide for joint problem solving and shared learning can usefully augment face-to-face contact in and outside of class meetings.”  Lots of student/faculty interaction (whether during class time, office hours, or via e-mail) can only help instructors and students learn from each other as they work toward the same goals of helping the student become a better writer.

Even in my attempt to craft this blog entry I find that the technology is getting in the way of expressing my thoughts and ideas in writing.  I spent so much time setting up my account, learning how to navigate this site, and trying to wrap my head around “where I was” in cyberspace, that it paralyzed my writing.  So, while all of the exciting possibilities of new technologies are there, it will take a lot of time for all of us to get on the same “page”.


3 comments on “Writing as a Social Act

  1. I found myself a bit paralyzed as well while trying to type as I worked on negotiating (somewhat on the spot) between organizing my thoughts on the articles – where I saw technology in regards to the class and its students – and the new medium of blogging that I haven’t participated in online as yet, and, especially, negotiating between you all as classmates, the expectations of an academic class, and the possibility that others out in the world might read my post – I felt like I needed to have something a little more important to say, given the breath of my potential audience, than what I was coming up with.

  2. I liked Lunsford’s analysis of the issue of audience. That’s been an interesting thing for me to think about in this program, since everything from 1st grade through my senior year of college was really just written for the teacher. Teaching students about audience, and writing blog posts like these, is really forcing me to try and bend my mind around the issues involved with writing for an audience. I’ve been writing jocular emails for so long, I find that kind of language use tends to seep into how I write many of my papers in early drafts. I may not use the emoticons & etc. that she talks about, but the tone is often initially casual. Even if some of my writing here does not reflect that.

  3. I’m interested in this idea of the “technology getting in the way.” It sounds almost as if the issue was familiarity. Maybe something similar would happen if you were asked to adopt another method of inscription, like maybe carving in stone? It’s interesting how we become habituated to particular practices.

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