Yancey, Kathleen Blake "Looking for Sources of Coherence in a Fragmented World: Notes toward a New Assessment Design"

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Yancey writes that in order to attempt to ascertain some sort of value on digital composition we need to use the frameworks and processes of printed, textual compositions and apply them to the new digital medium. Yancey says that coherence is at the heart of our worlds, so “coherence is all about relationships.” Achieving coherence digitally involves not only the pattern of words with words and words with context like printed text, but it involves the entirety of the piece and the multiple contextual frameworks to assess the text in. The reader then becomes the inventor/creator of their own logic, or achiever of the text’s logic, while “weaving” through the multiple layers and realms of any digital text, regardless of whether the composer intended the reader to go in this non-linear pattern.

Yancey says that in order to assess digital texts, we should understand that technology can be at odds, not with the intent of the writer, but with the effect. Yancey supports this with an example of word processing programs such as spell check to assess the composition, changing what the writer intended. In contrast, the technology can seduce the writer; for instance a teacher re-writing a student’s essay even though she merely intended to write comments, so technology was so easy, it became seductive. Thus, awareness is essential when assessing digital texts.

Yancey writes that in order to assess digital texts, then we must create a heuristic, so that we are encouraged by the technology of the heuristic, i.e., questions. Yancey states that the questions of the heuristic should include the inquiry of, “what is the intent? What is the fit between the intent and the effect?” In other words, does the composition work like the composer intended, and if it does differently then the intent then how and why?

Kathleen Blake Yancey

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