Designer’s Statement Richard Lanham focuses on the “at/through” principle in his essay “Digital Rhetoric and Digital Arts,” which is what I have taken away the most from this class. He stresses the difference between looking through a medium (such as a page full of a block of text out of a novel) to get to the content and looking at the way that the content is designed, which lends an entirely new layer of meaning to the text on top of its content meaning. Lanham says this within the conversation of the media industry’s switch to digital formats. He says that with this transition, the way we read content changes: “the digital text becomes unfixed and interactive. The reader can change it, become writer” (31). This shift in the way we relay information from a narrative structure to an aesthetic structure can be challenging for writers to grasp, but when we are presented with the theoretical logic behind why this change is occurring, it is much easier for us to change with the times. Because we are moving away from print publication, there is no longer the idea of the “final copy.” Instead, because the digital arena of information presentation is literally a series of codes that can be reprogrammed at any time, there is no such thing as a final draft and everything is a continual work in progress. If we can harness this information with an open mind, then the potentiality to communicate so much better with our audience should be incredibly exciting. It is easy for me to think about digital writing in casual forms, such as in my social media outlets of Facebook and Tumblr. On both of those mediums, I have posted plenty of my poetry and enjoyed engaging with my readers in the comments section of these websites. I also enjoy following some of my friends’ poetry blogs and engaging in conversations of their poetry online, especially since some of them live far away from me. It only makes sense that this level of community, originality, and the speed at which information can be shared and discussed should move into the professional world of writing as well.
With this transfer comes a change in the way businesses, nonprofits, and colleges communicate. Lanham says: “The traditional dependence on commonplaces in rhetorical education has been transmuted from word to image” (37). While some may worry that this is a return to pre-analytical thinking, this shift in fact extends our current level of thinking by allowing us to condense concepts we are already familiar with into symbols and use them on a different plane. We no longer have to painstakingly build up our arguments into chronological molehills; once a concept is created, we can represent it entire with a symbol and look at it outside of its original context. This “flash reason” (Ulmer’s phrase in Avatar Emergency) allows us to leave chronology behind and see concepts from outside, which goes back to the “at/through” principle in a practical way. Because professionals can now “play” with concepts in this manner, creativity now can have a much higher standing among business professionals. Play also brings the audience up on a pedestal: more focus is now being made on how to attract readers/viewers visually so that they will be drawn to pick up/click on a particular article over all the others out there. And with competition comes increased skill. As businesspeople think about how to attract their readers/viewers, they think about how viewers are going to view the content, which aspects of the content and design the viewers are going to see first, and so on. This type of thinking rewards businesspeople who communicate the most effectively, therefore making everyone more literate within digital media. I am excited that I got to work on these projects while digital media is still relatively new, because I am capable of seeing how an entire world’s paradigm is shifting in regards to communication. Although my designs are a small part of this movement, they still help contribute to my personal understanding of communication, prepping me for further contributions in the future.