TWC 5/421
Fall 2002

Arizona State University, East Campus

Course files have been archived offline except for readings and graduate student projects

Please feel free to e-mail me for other files or archives:

Principles of Writing with Technology:
From Papyrus to Pixels

When I went to see the film Panic Room this past spring, I had a kind of elated response to the opening credits, which -- you'll know if you've seen the film -- are rendered to appear as though they are part of New York City buildings. 

    At the time, I could not explain my reaction of visual delight and I could not talk about it right away because after the credits, of course, there's a two-hour film to watch. I have continued to wonder about that experience, however: was my reaction one that the credit designers had hoped for? What rhetorical decisions were the designers making? Why were the credits more memorable (to me) than the film? And does that mean that I am more moved by images than by narrative? Can images be combined to create narrative?

    Writing, communication, and multimedia technologies are evolving—in both academic and professional contexts—often more quickly than allows for assessment and reflection on their use and their social, economic. and cultural impacts. This course is designed to explore and analyze those contexts and their implications for professional multimedia production.

    The course is rhetorically based so that you can determine how to design in any situation by analyzing the purpose, audience, and context; rhetorical aims will shape document preparation and design.

    At the end of the course, you will know:

    How the histories and social impacts of writing, publishing, and multimedia technologies 
        inform our contemporary understanding and use of those technologies
    How to decide what technological interfaces or media are appropriate for your audience,
        purpose, and rhetorical situation
    How to assess claims about a communication or multimedia technology's “interface,”
        “interactivity” and “usability”
    How to write, design, and promote respect and understanding for your audiences in
        computer-mediated and multimedia communications
    How communication and multimedia technologies are affecting and changing popular 
        notions of collaboration
    When (and why) to advocate, promote, argue, and engage an audience of professionals 
        on appropriate and ethical uses of communication and multimedia technologies

    After spending a few weeks reading and discussing historical and contemporary ideas related to multimedia writing and communication, our main design project for this section of TWC 5/421 is to design and develop a prototype for an online, MWTC-specific "MyLibrary" interface for the ASU-East Library. You will work with students, faculty, librarians, and other university collaborators to decide what types of multimedia materials should be included in such a project, what the appropriate methods of delivery are, and to develop a sustainable prototype.

    Our online activities and discussions, your fieldwork, research, and design incorporate a range of Technical Communication and Multimedia contexts:

    Multimedia design
    Computer-mediated communication
    Hypertext theory & practice
    User-centered design
    Participatory and collaborative approaches to design
    Document-design prototyping, testing, and editing
    Audience analysis
    Usability testing
    Project  management
    Production considerations
    Possibilities and constraints of using communication technologies in our work

    Working Together Online, and at a Distance

    This section of TWC 521/421 is an online, web-based course. We will explore, assess, and use a range of writing, communication, and design technologies in this course. Because working together online introduces a wide range of possibilities and constraints, we will take the time to reflect on the ways in which technologies shape, support, constrain, and otherwise affect our work and our interactions.

    Please note on the course calendar that there are three entries for each week: readings, discussions, and  production due dates. Plan your time such that you can give the readings the attention and reflection that they will need, including annotating, rereading, and developing your own personal responses. Each week I will post notes, direction, and supporting materials in the course's Monday Memo.

    One of the central concepts and questions for the course is "interactivity" -- its history, etymology, theory, and practice -- and we will wrangle with that concept in our own communication and sharing of materials. You can help guarantee our successful and productive interactions by proposing alternative and useful ways for us to communicate, write, design, ask questions, and learn together. Always feel free to post comments, questions, concerns, and ideas to the class Discussion Board, or to me via e-mail: