Although most of this week’s readings were clearly written from a practicality standpoint, I think that the larger conception that I extracted from them centered on our methodological approaches and how those approaches may or may not be rigorous enough to deal with a reality that evolves as fast as the digital reality has evolved. That’s not to say that the underpinning of the conversation is not important – I think that it’s quite clear that design philosophy is important in any medium that seeks to interact with a user (either passively or actively), but I do think that there are some concerns that can be mined in the readings and which should be explored for what they are.
In particular I take issue with the debate that Cohen and Rosenzweig bring up here (paragraphs four and five) regarding text length. Although the book speaks to “new” technologies and calls for academics to learn new techniques to capitalize on those technologies, for some reason here they opt to stick to their traditional forms of writing as though they don’t also need to be restructured for a new medium. I think that the problem with this conception is really rooted in perceived audience. I think that one of the best features of the web is that it gives unparalleled access for a diverse audience and subsequently allows for opportunistic outreach that doesn’t exist in a traditional format. That said, in order to capitalize on that potential outreach and audience the webhost must recognize that as our digital reality is evolving and expanding, so too are the ways in which we learn from that environment. Two excellent books that speak to reality construction in the digital age are Roger Silverstone’s, Why Study the Media?, which deals less with digital presence than with diversified experiences, and Andrew Hoskins’ and Ben O’Loughlin’s, War and Media: The Emergence of the Diffused War, which deals with how our traditional reality construction paradigms are impacted by the emergence of a digital world that evolves so quickly (though framed through the lens of warfare, policy, and experience).
Of course, that is really just a long-winded way of saying that perhaps we should be re-thinking our methodological approach to the digital world (we most certainly need to develop tools to more rigorously and regularly interrogate a medium that changes so rapidly) and questioning whether traditional modes of academic expression are still relevant if we genuinely want to expand the audience beyond academia.