The methods in presenting arguments adapt and evolve as new ways of writing continue to be introduced through technological developments. To introduce the preceding concept, I will take two writing objects, an article and a video, to demonstrate how methods in WRTC are changing. In his article “From Pencils to Pixels,” (1999), Denis Baron claims that even though technology continues to advance at an accelerated rate, it is still too early to determine how new technologies, such as the computer, will affect reading and writing practices. To illustrate his argument, Baron explores the introduction and complex reception of new writing technologies throughout history. Baron’s method is similar to that employed by Michael Wesh in his Youtube video “Web 2.0… The Machine is Us/ing Us” to illustrate his argument as well, however, Wesch’s video shows a transformation in the way Baron’s method can be operated.
Baron uses historical evidence to back up his claim that while writing technology has become so advanced, we still cannot determine how objects like the “computer will eventually alter our literacy practices” (32). Starting as far back as 3500 BCE, when our ancestors wrote on tables, to the late 1990s, when we were typing on computers, Baron demonstrates artifact after artifact of a new writing technology being introduced and either being embraced or rejected. Baron explains that “[t]he effects of writing took thousands of years to spread [and] the printing press took several hundred years to change how we do things with words” (32). Baron theorizes that the time is still too early to make any predictions about how people will use the computer to read and write since this technology is still relatively new, and older writing technologies have taken ages to affect our literary practices.
In his article, Baron employs his historical data to demonstrate how advancements in technology have impacted the way we write. As WRTC students and scholars, we have the responsibility to know these new ways of writing and how traditional methods, like the use of historical artifacts, are evolving in order to still support the claims and theories told through these new mediums. This is why Michael Wesch’s Youtube video “Web 2.0… The Machine is Us/ing Us” plays an important factor in my article. Wesch not only shows a new medium in how arguments can be made, but also exhibits how Baron’s method had to be remixed in order to deliver the claim that Wesch wants to express: as technology continues to change, we need to rethink ourselves and how we use it and how it is using us.
Whereas Baron writes out each artifact he makes use of, Wesch relies on visuals to help present his argument. Similar to Baron, Wesch displays the historically linear progression of writing technology from the pencil, to typing, to hypertext, and then to digital text, but all by visibly demonstrating each writing practice. The purpose of exhibiting these multiple forms of writing was to provoke viewers to think about what the next step would be in our relationship with and use of machines and computers. Like Baron, Wesch combines his evidence to arrive at the central claim of his argument, but also expands on Baron’s theory by illustrating that our machines are also teaching us new ways to write.
Writing articles is not the only way to make arguments anymore; we live in an era where videos, and other technologies can be offered as alternative ways of writing. But as these new ways are introduced, traditional methods will need to adapt or transform in order to properly support the theories and claims we make. We will have to think about how we are expressing our arguments as technology continues to give us contemporary mediums to write.