Takayoshi, “Short-from Writing”

Takayoshi, Pamela, “Short-form writing: Studying process in the context of contemporary composing technologies” Computers and Composition. 37 (2015): 1-13.

Takayoshi turns her attention to short-form writing on social media as a complex writing practice that involves a likewise complex writing process. She offers two case studies that outline some of the complexities involved in this often-overlooked writing process: that of short-form writing on social media such as Facebook.

She opens with a broad question, “What does writing mean?” She offers a definition that seeks to find common features among different kinds of writing: “one commonality is the manipulation of a complex symbol system as a means of communicating human thought from one person to others” (1-2). The creation, distribution, and use of writing is impacted by technologies. She turns to Jim Porter’s concept of internetworked writing to describe the kinds of contemporary, digital technology-mediated writing that is part of modern everyday life. Defined, internetworked writing describes “the technological environments where writing is composed and circulated…”[I]netnetworked writing also refers to more than simply posting text: it includes reading, browsing, and collecting electronic text, as research activities that are also types of writing activities’” (Porter 2 qtd in Takayoshi 2). Takayoshi finds that internetworked writing is the kinds of writing that occurs in networks: across tools, technologies, platforms, and devices.

As Takayoshi claims, computers and writing scholarship has been much more attention to the fact that students are writing more than ever before and for many purposes and less interested in “the practices, processes, and larger social, cultural, and technological ecology in which this writing is happening” (2). As such, she looks to the kind of short-form writing that are pervasive in everyday writer’s lives, specifically the processes of composing involved in such writing. She discusses the object of study in writing studies, moving from individual to culture—or as Takayoshi writes, form writing (focused on individual’s meaning0making practices) to literacy (suggesting social practices and a larger communicative context). This, as she writes, is the social turn. However, as Takayoshi writes, this movement away from the individual has seemed to imply that the cognitive and social are divisible. As such, we have been must less interested in studying in situ writing practices: what are the processes involved in student composing in situ and across technologies. Summing succinctly, “we have yet to turn our attention in any systematic way to how those technological and social changes have affected how writers write with contemporary writing technologies and what happens to writing processes when they are enacted through those technologies. Writing studies needs more detailed, systematic understandings of the writing processes of writers as they compose in the technologically mediated, networked, and multimodal landscape of literacy now” (4).

Methods: “Participants wer asked to record a 30-minute screencast, think-aloud video at a time when they were on Facebook reading and writing as they might under normal circumstances” (5). They had 30-60 minute follow-up interviews.

Her findings from Dan and Sherry:

  • Writing/Assessing/Revising is truncated: “Dan’s drafting and revising processes were truncated and joined together—Like Dan, every writer in the larger study drafted, read, and re-read their writing as it progressed and revised or edited mid-sentence. The cursor moved forward and backward as Dan composed, re-read, assessed, and revised his written text” (6). “Sherry’s composing process did not delineate drafting, reviewing, and revising into neatly and distinctly staged processes; instead, drafting, reviewing and revising were truncated into the brief writing episode” (8).
  • Self-Evaluation: “In the process of composing the short piece of writing he finally posted, Dan engaged in more self-evaluation than might be expected for such a brief writing episode: narrating what he wanted to write (and thus, perhaps mentally organizing the narrative), evaluating the move from elaborated detail to pithy status update, re-reading text as he was producing it, making decisions about his word choice, deleting text and replacing it with other words, recognizing and correcting misspellings, pausing to think about the status before clicking the “share” button that would post it publicly to his Facebook wall, adding more information in the comment, and then finally, deciding that the comment was “just not appropriate at all” and deleting it” (7)
  • Micro-Attention: “Sherry appeared to be paying conscious attention to each individual print-linguistic character as it appeared on the screen before her. This micro-level of attention to the unfolding written text was, in fact, evidenced by every other writer in the larger study in almost every instance of writing. This micro-processing of the text as it unfolded character by character and the accompanying revision and editing at the level of the letter is characteristic of the composing process of writers” (8)
  • Composing process across platforms: The micro-processing and awareness of the text evidenced in Sherry’s written turns in the conversation is evidenced in writing she did outside the Facebook interface as well. … These writers’ composing processes suggest that composing processes learned and deployed in one technological context may be translated into other contexts, or at the least, there may be composing processes which carry across multiple types of interactive, networked writing (8).

 

 

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