Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Text, New Text

Our discussion this term has included older texts, newer texts, some systems of distribution, etc. What do you make of the relationship of older texts to newer texts now, at this point in the term?


rory said...

To ask what I “make of the relationship of older texts to newer texts now,” implies that there is, indeed, a relationship between older and newer texts. I, of course, would agree.

One relationship I see is that of time, and I mean this in multiple ways. For starters, old texts and new texts are connected historically and chronologically over time: a text is considered “old” only insofar as there are “newer” texts available, ones that age and date their predecessors.

Intrinsic to that is also the idea of birth (or invention). In other words, these old texts give birth to new ones. “Older” ways of composing and older texts are not completely effaced with the creation of new texts—and by “new texts” I am referring to digital texts (FYI). Bolter and Grusin continually reiterate that old mediums do not just go extinct; rather, they are remediated and refashioned, and while this affects the mediums in which texts are composed and circulated, it also provides us a nice framework for looking at the relationship between old and new texts.

As Hesse illustrates in his conference presentation “The New Age of Parataxis? Or, YouTube as The Tatler?,” essayistic writing, what many would consider a feature of “older texts,” still has a place in our “newer” composing processes. More interesting, perhaps, is how features of older texts continually manifest themselves in newer ones. Take, for example, his example of The Tatler, which he describes as “a short regular publication of gossip and commentary, accompanied by ads, published under a pseudonym, with a high degree of snarkiness.”

“Familiar?” he asks.

Well yes: The Tatler is quite akin to blogs and other Web 2.0 applications—what we might call new texts. He also highlights that The Tatler had a subscription list, not much unlike, say, a friend’s list on Facebook.

For me, the only major difference between older texts and newer texts is the affordances of new technology—which, of course, have expanded rapidly over (you guessed it) time. As composers, we simply have more opportunities—not only in ways to compose but also in avenues to publish as well as means to read. Inherent in these new opportunities are new ways of seeing and new occasions for invention, arrangement, delivery, and style (which Yancey and Fortune discuss in their respective conference presentations). What we need to remember, however, is that while these opportunities seem new, they are still heavily linked to (often times predicated on) their predecessors, as Hesse makes sure to remind us.

Liane said...

I think I've moved from thinking of texts as old versus new, into thinking of text genres. Not that I don't consider how long a type of text has been around, or how it might yet evolve, but I see them now as interdependent rather than new or old. That's a line that has blurred almost completely for me since the beginning of our discussions this semester.

The notion of print text as old is not something I buy. I think print text has a history (duh) but I also think the print text that emerges today is quite different, even if the form is old the composition that results can be different because it's informed by layers of social construction that are inherent in any author's (or authors') composition. Print on paper isn't new but the way it appears is. Take Dr. Yancey's syllabus as an example...the visuals enhance the reading experience, and help explain the concepts included in the course, but perhaps more importantly they help the reader of the syllabus engage with the text. It's still print, but it's more familiar to us because of the visuals - this is more like the type of text we see every day, so we "accept" it more readily. We relate to it in a way, I would argue, that we don't relate to documents that are devoid of visual. Then there's another layer...if we view the syllabus online, we can link to other texts that both frame the discussion we'll be having and lead us to additional knowledge. The document works in both parataxic and hypotaxic ways, but it's multi-layered intertwining with additional texts creates a relationship between author, reader and text that allows for another layer of interaction between other authors and other texts (and to consider other readers I suppose).

This layered context is where new text takes us but not without old text. It really merges all text - like palimpsest - into an experience.

Hesse talks about the possible relationships between texts -- the parataxis and hypotaxis examples of text formation. In this age of "merged texts" (because I don't see them as new so much as reiterated) the relationship between texts might be coexistent or interdependent, depending on the composition. Fortune also discusses this when he talks about the branching off and the lack of closure with hypertext, which tends to remain open.

The branching invites layering, which adds context to the text, regardless of form. But this is not just a symptom of hypertext, it has always been a part of print text, as Fortune explains with his examples -- Faulkner's archive, the Kerouac scroll version of On the Road, etc. In our own pedagogy, whether print, digital or whatever, students are taught process, to mark up a text and layer new writing over old. Not exactly palimpsest perhaps, but definitely a layered approach that creates a writing in progress allowing for "a depth of thought" as Fortune points out that Yancey claims.

Perhaps the old and new are not as important as the coherence of the merged text. The forms of composing that digitality affords are so varied that coherence is often absent. Hesse's point about parataxis is that it may "gather widely" but then the coexisting text is made sense of at the end, it is made coherent by tying those coexisting parts together. This is coherence, and this is the concept that all text struggles to achieve. With new text seamlessly merged with old, the multilayered composing of and relating to a text affords greater coherence. The participatory culture we've recently discussed figures into that -- it impacts coherence, potentially detracting from or adding to it. The social construction of any form of text which occurs inherently, I believe, regardless of author intent, creates endless possibilities but at what expense? I wonder about the lack of closure this might entail and what that means for the future of text and of the knowledge we construct as a society. Were there ever any simple answers?

Ruth Kistler said...

In “Made not only in time…” Dr. Yancey says that some of those studying the effects of new media on literacy haven’t always agreed about the significance of the changes that are being wrought as we’ve adopted and adapted to the new digital media environment. “Some scholars,” she says, “think these changes are incremental, that they don’t really challenge what and how we know, what and how we compose.” On the other hand, she explains that “others […] believe that we are in the midst of a radical epistemelogical transformation” (1-2). When I first began this course, I think my general position was fairly closely aligned with the first group of scholars. Sure, I could see that the digital media formats were changing HOW we composed, but I didn’t see this affecting WHAT I might write or, more importantly, what or how I know what I have to say. At this point, however, I’m coming to see that the affordances of digital media are so vastly different, in some key ways at least, from those of the older print formats, that it really makes more sense to think of them as radically transforming the ways we read, write, think, and learn.

So what are the key differences that I see now and that I didn’t see then? Well, one of the noteworthy shifts is in who feels authorized to speak as an author. Before the digital revolution, access to publication venues was much more limited and was fairly well monopolized by those elite few who had insider access to the right contacts and training opportunities. Now, almost anyone who believes s/he has knowledge on a topic can publish ideas quickly and easily on the Internet. While, as Rory points out, we might define this difference simply as one of opportunity (who has the opportunity to publish), I think it is more than that. Back in the “old” days, if I was looking to find basic, introductory information on a topic, I would start searching in the reference section of a library and probably read the relevant encyclopedia, articles, sources that had undoubtedly been written by those with academic and scholarly credentials to their names. I expected that, by looking in these sources, I would find accurate and reliable information and that, after reading it, I would "know" the facts. Now, however, I turn to the Internet, and if I look at a reference encyclopedia at all it is probably Wikipedia. Because sources such as this are produced by those who have authorized THEMSELVES as knowledgeable insiders, I am less likely to passively accept what they offer as the one and only “truth.” In some ways, though, they actually offer me greater access to knowledge than did the old sources. For instance, unlike those earlier reference sources, these articles are ones that are often constructed by multiple authors who have worked together by revising and reworking what the others have contributed. Since these new formats don’t emphasize WHO is speaking as much as WHAT is being said and HOW it supports or contradicts what others have said on the topic, my focus, too, has shifted from trying to find out what others "know" to constructing my own knowledge base from what I find others have said. Because of this shift in who is authorized to speak, in other words, I have become a much more active participant in my own learning process. I can see that this really is, as Yancey suggests, a radical shift not only in the ways I look for information but, more essentially, in how I am thinking and what I am learning.

Certainly this doesn’t mean that I no longer see a relationship between old texts and new ones. Clearly the older texts, in those by-gone days when I tromped off to the library every time I needed to get some information, were fundamentally just as much socially constructed in nature as the ones I now access on my laptop computer. The differences in whose ideas I am now able to access and the ways I generate (and publish!) my own ideas, though, are huge. Liane mentions the potential such diverse participation in knowledge-making holds for interfering with the coherence of the ideas presented in a given text or, perhaps, in a body of texts, but I’m not sure that really needs to be a problem. In this new digital environment we may get a less coherent picture of the “facts” on any given subject, but that lack of coherence just might provide the impetus we need to become more active in our own learning, requiring us to understand knowledge as perspectival rather than fixed and to generate our own understanding of the meaning of the body of ideas available to us.

Natalie said...

In his piece, Doug Hesse tells us “let’s not use fat tip markers in palmpsizing the present over the past” Similarly, in Beltway Blog we are told “it’s too simple to say that the new media are killing off the old media… [; they] need each other to supply material and drive attention… [; they] are still symbiotic, but it’s getting hard to tell who the rhino and who’s the tickbird.” Similar lines could be pulled from Jenkins’ book and others we have read this semester. Essentially, video did not “kill” the radio star per se, but rather video had a symbiotic relationship which remediated and refashioned (perhaps repurposed?) the radio star. (I don’t think that would have made a hit song, however.)

It seems easy enough to see that the composition community is certainly moving towards (if not, has already embraced) the idea that old and new media exist in an overlapping, palmpsistic, parataxical, relationship (I think I just make up those words). We look forward as we look back, and we borrow as we move forward. However, like Liane, I often have a problem defining what is “new” and what is “old.” The terms are relative. Radio was once new, but video—arguably—made it old. Print was new, but digital—arguably—made it old. Moos and MUDS were new, but synchronous IMs—arguably—made them old. Are wikis, blogs old or new? Is Myspace the old Facebook? The relationship between these two terms is clearly porous, and in our inability to place media in one extreme or the other we can see on a larger scale how complicated (and palampsized) this relationship is. [Again, I think I am making up this version of the word but its emphasis on space rather than time works nicely here.]

But what I have above is not the complicated part of this relationship. Sure they overlap, sure they interact, sure it is a two way street, but looking at how they do that and how we navigate between and among those relationships is the complicated part, for me at least. In what ways and to what extent can we use the strategies employed in old new in new media spaces? How much of our writing techniques and approaches in print media “transfer” into our writing in new, say digital, spaces? How much of our knowledge of MOOS helps us function inside IMs? But further than that, how can we use our old strategies but not be limited by them? How can we use traditional methods but still be open to the possibilities afforded to us in different and “new” media? These are the difficult question I feel like we are in the midst of answering as a field. (Hence a panel at Watson that looked at “new” means of assessment with new media composition, and another session that examined how “traditional” models of assessment could be used with new media compositions.) We seem torn; how can old help us navigate new but not limit us? How much life and influence does the radio star have once video enters the scene?

Because we are still answering these questions for ourselves, it can become complicated for us to try to help students answer them or to help our students navigate these “new” spaces. If we are still figuring out how to write in new media, how can we teach our students to, especially when our students tend to know the technology of the media a bit better? How can we be both informed by tradition and forward-thinking in our classrooms? For me as an instructor, these questions are the bottom line in the old and new media debate. Perhaps these questions are best answered along side students, in dialogue with them. I am just not sure…

Matt D said...

As usual, I'm going to cherry-pick from posts already made and then add a little extra, hopefully something that I learned at Watson. (Does this strategy make my text old or new? Or does the fact that I'm doing it on a blog displace my strategy as the marker of old/new?)
The two characteristics I thought of to explore the question were perspective and mutability.
Natalie had a nice little explication of old and new, and I think that jives well with my thinking on perspective. What's old or what is new (and its importance relative to the other) depends on your perspective or lens and historical moment. As Michael Stephens said at Watson, new media and new texts are revolutionary for journalism. They have, by many accounts, completely upended the credentialist journalistic hierarchy that began, I guess, as soon as we invented the "editor." Similarly, we've got claims of a new type of democratic citizen that exists within a brand new sphere of agency...another upheaval of the old regime. Through the lens of media studies, however, things look different. B&G did a good job of showing us that there is nothing new about new media...except, as Johnson and Janet Murray (@Watson) added, the different combination of affordances it allows us. So I set myself up to take both/and pill and jump down the rabbit hole.
Speaking of affordances, I am reminded of Carolyn Miller's talk on "vernacular" genres @ Watson. She explored the "genre talk" that keeps popping up-- why is every new band on iTunes a new genre of some indie sort? Why is every new hard-to-classify novel a new subgenre of something or other? Miller suggested that these attempts to posit works as new "genres" might be an attempt to classify as different in kind (rather than degree) the small characteristic differences between expressions that take differential advantage of the affordances of new media. In other words, we're trying to come to grips with the mutability of new texts.
A test: when I wrote "credentialist journalistic hierarchy" above, did it need a hyperlink to the beltway blog or was that "linked" enough? Could you tell that I changed Fortune's "malleability" of new text into "mutability"? What about the fact that I nabbed Yancey's both/and? If I linked to these documents, would it have made the connections different in kind or degree?

Leah Cassorla said...

I am taken by the way so-called old texts are threatened by so-called new texts. I would argue that the division between the two is rather arbitrary. But the response of publishing and, especially, of news media makes that a tough argument to stick to the wall.

So here goes. I think that the movement from old to new is so slow and subtle because of the overlap and interaction of the two. It's not as if we switched from Coke to New Coke (and back again, amen) one day. There are decades of overlap, and decades of redundancies. But there seems a sense of impending doom in the last decade or so, for the producers of "old texts"--the book publishers and the news and magazine publishers.

That tension has been interesting to watch as a journalist and as a fiction writer. But as a rhetorician, I see something different. The rhetoric in journalism is about survival--but also, as the Beltway Blogger Wars piece indicates, about the definition of journalism, itself. Having taught journalism, I was intrigued that the first thing we did was pass our press credentials, but within a few weeks we talked about why it's important the press not be licensed.

The rhetoric on the fiction side is of highbrow Vs. lowbrow. Electronic publishing is seen as vanity press publishing made cheap--or free--and is therefore not worthy of consideration in "serious" cricles.

This, I find amusing and depressing simultaneously. As a writer, I feel the process of getting published "officially" is drawn out and generally not particularly effective. Worse, it requires a thicker skin than journalism for dealing with rejection.

It amuses me because I picture the panic on the faces of editors, and then wonder how the monks felt about Gutenberg.

I would call the relationship genealogical. In the same sense that the text and our mental picture of it is born out of the limitations we have been exposed to and the affordances we seek, the technology, itself is born out of an Ongian written culture that has controlled the way information is passed "down."

Kara T. said...

The six post before me did something similar to what KSF did in her response to the C’s Symposium and created fractured realities based on their perspectives. All defining the difference between old and new texts based on what they have read or what they have seen (as Matt did using Watson). I now come to add my own fractured reality of old and new texts and as I do so have to agree with a lot of what my fellow bloggers stated. I am particularly drawn to Matt’s comment from Mitchell Stephens although I would like to add to it. Stephens offered a quick history of communications from a journalism viewpoint. Through this lens Stephens stated that there has been “pockets of grumblings” that tend to protect the older texts or the old way of doing things. He said that we do not take the opportunity to celebrate the new forms of composing. Stephan’s encouraged us to use new texts because he believed it would bring wisdom that has not been thought about before. New texts can offer new ways of thinking; new ways of composing. He actually called the new forms of composing “fragmented” making me think back to KSF’s analogy of the fragmented fairytales. Fragmented however means that the new texts must still call back to the old text so that they may become splintered versions of the old text. New texts then often build upon what was once done before (here I think of remediation or even remix).

The connection between old and new I think lays in the idea of literacy. KSF stated that the C’s panel “by fracturing fairy tales, these presentations destabilize the subtle dominance of a single account of or explanation for literacy.” Similarly new texts do this thus creating or allowing for the creation of an expanding definition of what literacy means. I think at the heart of any text is a desire to reach a literate society but what new texts can offer is a layered way to achieve this. Today all of the elements/characteristics that complete a new text create a layering affect (think KY’s opening remarks on the panel) which can not only give a new definition to literacy but also offer a different way to understand what it means to be literate.

I am left thinking that literacy is the connection of many unanswered questions that are floating around the world of academia. After yesterday’s conversation about how to bridge the gap between some of the disciplines I have to wonder if literacy is the key. By redefining literacy perhaps we can then connect literature to rhet/comp. Old and new texts have a joined heart—literacy. A heart represents life and in terms of old and new texts allows for the pumping of knowledge throughout each. Knowledge in our world of academics is our life and allowing for new texts but remembering what it took to get there makes sense as we progress.

Kelly said...

"While not denying its multidimensionality, we must at the same time recognize the multidimensionality of the print text. Certainly print texts and digital texts differ in their materiality, but operationally they are much more alike than we have allowed" (Fortune 34).

To me, this quote expressed the relationship between new and old texts. A new text is new in that it offers a new viewpoint, but it is also old in that it derives from something prior. And, the purpose of the old is not to be simply a derivative. It, as well, offers perspective and insight as much as the new.

The term "new" seems to go along with the word "improved." Just look at advertisements--when something is new, it is automatically better, that we should simply reach for the newest version of a product on the shelves because that one is closer to perfect than the others. This connection with new and improvement leaks over to our notions of new and old texts. Because a text is new, it is in a sense, seemingly closer to perfection. However, the old text cannot be discarded simply because others have come after. I do not think that old texts are important simply because new ones have derived from it. That, to me, seems to claim its importance through the new, that without the new, the old would not sustain any lasting impression. (And, now that I think about it, maybe it wouldn't have the impression without the new--maybe they have a codependent symbiosis of sorts...)

I agree with Rory's statement that the only difference between new and old technology are its affordances, but I think in those affordances, we have created multiple meanings of a text through both its form and content. (And, as I write that, I ask myself if that is anything that new--that older texts have been accomplishing the same objectives--just not in such a mainstream and "cool" way. The more I delve into this complicated question, the more I seem to second guess my answers.)

The old text has shifted just as much as the new. They are both ever-changing and ever-evolving based on their relationship. When new texts are constructed, they are shaped by the old inasmuch as they alter the shape of the old (and vice-versa for old texts).

I liked Natalie's ending questions--these I think are the issues of old/new texts as well. I think that as much as students come into the classroom knowing a lot about constructing new texts, we need to be prepared as well. And, I do not think this should be a singular task. Just as much as knowledge is being disseminated from the bottom up in the construction of new texts, this knowledge needs to come from the top-down as well. There needs to be a meeting in the middle. Without this meeting, I think there will be a gap between old and new texts in our comp courses and in our students' thinking.

Leigh said...

For me, the distinction between digital (new) texts and old, linear texts has always been clear. Hypertext allows for much more “textual openness and interplay” (as Ron Fortune tells us), while old texts are static and limited. Digital texts that are static are only so because they fail to take advantage of all the possibilities offered by new technologies. Right? Fortune’s piece showed that this divide is not as clear as it may seem. The idea of intertexuality is not new to me, but somehow, connecting it with the openness and playfulness of digital publishing leads me to think about “old” texts as not separate from, but a predecessor to, new digital texts. Fortune contends that only recently have we made these connections. The recent move in traditional publishing to offer competing versions of previously “authoritative” texts, positioning the reader as author(ity), is compelling.

These insights illuminate the relationship between old and new texts. But I’m still not entirely sold on the idea that fixed text has always been open. Are the recent trends in print evidence of the openness that has always been there? Or is it just an attempt to mimic the effects of hypertext and digital technology? Either way, I think that new and old texts are speaking to each other, and changing the face of both.

Jill said...

The relationship of older texts and newer texts is symbiotic in nature. As Bolter and Grusin discussed in their book, Remediation, new media is a misnomer because it is really just an offshoot of a media that already exists. In this way, older and newer texts have a similar connection. “New” texts are actually very akin to previous text versions, many times more so than we think. The Beltway Blog discussed this notion: “It's too simple to say that the new media are killing off the old media. Interest in political news is sky-high, and new and old media each need the other to supply material and drive attention. What's happening instead is a kind of melding of roles. Old and new media are still symbiotic, but it's getting hard to tell who's the rhino and who's the tickbird.” This lets us know that it’s not a distinct old-informing-the-new, but it’s almost a “what came first—the chicken or the egg?” kind of inquiry. This blending of influences exemplifies the way new and old texts speak to each other, constantly informing the operations and literacies of one another. Video most definitely did not “kill the radio star,” but instead actually fuels the radio star and vice versa. As we have seen in Convergence Culture, media has recognized this and exploited it to their economic advantages. The issues that are prevalent here are the ideas of access, audience, and layering. In terms of access, the more texts represent the multiple points of entry. In terms of audience, the old and new texts speaking to one another broaden their audience by diversifying their media. In terms of layering, the more dimensions included in these symbiotic relationships of old and new texts, the more audiences respond to the simultaneous familiarity and originality within. The layering serves as a place of invention. So, it could be argued that it is the combining of old and “new” texts that truly creates something new.
Also for the “new” texts, the trend seems to be a move toward access and agency. The more access one has to these new texts, the more agency they tend to have. For example, blogs represent a point of individual authorship coupled with collaboration and collective intelligence. The knowledge isn’t just emanating from one “approved” source anymore, but that source of knowledge and intellectual property is now moved to multiple sources, asserting the agency to dispense that knowledge.
Old and new texts need each other. Their interconnectedness and similarities are constantly defining and redefining literacy, agency, and knowledge.

Jennifer O'Malley said...

I still think that there is something to be said for someone who can create something using only words and “formal composition” techniques. It is such a talent and an envied ability to be able to express meaning through the written word. As a writer, you must rely on your ability to use words and manipulate their meanings in order to clearly convey your thoughts and ideas. When writing, a writer uses language to tell a story, to make an argument, to suggest a proposal, or to persuade an audience. They are essentially limited to a pen and paper, a typewriter, a screen and a keyboard—they are limited to the words in order to make meaning. In the way that I’m thinking about old texts, writers cannot rely on font, text color, images, pictures, YouTube clips, etc. to express their intentions. (I guess we need to define old texts?) Again, they must rely on their skill to convey meaning through writing in order to get their point across.

However, as today’s society incorporates technology into every aspect of our lives, we see the definition of writing and what is considered writing to be changing. Technology and the World Wide Web offers us space to write that wasn’t there ten year ago, even five years ago. Not only do we have the option to write in the traditional sense (of relying solely on black and white print), but we now have options to add different layers—another dimension—to writing. We have the opportunity to choose font, text color, font size. As a result of today’s technology, I now think of writing, not as writing, but as composing. Old texts required writing in the traditional sense, or so I how I see it. New texts offer us opportunities to explore other alternatives to black and white print. When I think of new texts, I think of composing spaces that allows the composer to lure their audience through a gamut of sensory stimulants. For example, a MySpace page is a new text. This space offers the composer a place to compose a profile that reflects the composer’s choices and intended design. The composer can choose which font to use, how large or small the font should be, the color of the font, the placement of photos, a background song, and also whether or not to incorporate a video/film clip. This new text also has the ability to reach a more extended audience than perhaps an older text.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned about the relationship between old and new texts is new texts’ reliance on old texts. In order to compose effectively in new texts, the composer must (I think) utilize the skills necessary to compose effectively in old texts. I also think the themes of the rhetorical situation play a vital role in composing regardless if you are in an old or new text. What is your purpose in composing this? Who is your audience? Which language is appropriate? I think that this set of questions applies when composing in both old and new texts. As technology increases and society’s obsession with immediacy intensifies, new texts continue to build upon the foundations of old texts.

Brittney said...

What do you make of the relationship of older texts to newer texts now, at {"this point in the term")?
Wow, That's alot to cover.
Mmnuscript/Print Culture, Remediation, Interface, Convergence, Palimpsects,Parataxis.
Accordingly, we are using the so-called old text to formulate and repurpose the new text. Like clothes, we are refashioning old concepts into the the present now.

Thinking back to Hesse talk, I remember thinking, "finally the essay is coming back into view" but my thinking was more simplistic as I thought of the essay as a print text. But similar to Liane, I see it now as a genre that has been adapted to various mediums. If we say the essay is a "old text", I might argue that the old text is being "used" in new ways, not defined as a new text. Similarly, if we say the Tatler is an old text/genre, then I might argue that the the old text is used differently with the affordances of time (experience) and space (in/out of academia). Consquently, I find myself saying there are no new texts, but different new ways of using the traditional (Realizing I may be proving Rory's point when using the term older).
Time and space plays a significant role in how we define the terms old and new. If we look at Yancey's pictorial example of Emily, et al example of the theoretical scholars, through time, theories were grounded or connected to previous ones. We call them new theories , but they are on the foundation of the older ones?
Perhaps I'm thinking these issues out by keystroke. I've probably contradicted myself at least twice so far.

So returning, like the parataxis, I see text layering and shifting with eachother, and what remains on top of the pile is what we might call new. When the text continues to pile up, then what is seen(what sticks out and pushes through) is then termed new, not burying, but hiding the old under.

Gil said...

What is the relationship between old new texts? This question made me think about how I define “old” and “new” in terms of texts. To me, an old text is not defined by age but by my ability to use and understand said text. For instance, I would consider Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – at least in the form that we read it today. On the other hand, if I was to read this same play in the original folio that it was written in, I would consider it a new text, in that the format is completely different than what I am used to and therefore “new”. So, if I do not look at the age of texts chronologically, what does this say about the way the old and new texts relate?

The answer of course is what we’ve been studying all semester. Old and new texts relate on multiple levels, from format to content to form. While it is easy to say that new texts are remediations or redesigned old texts I believe that the line cannot be drawn so narrowly. I believe that old texts (i.e. common forms) inform new texts (unusual texts) in the same way that Hesse mentions in his writing The New Age of Parataxis [...] in that old essayistic forms inform new texts which are more open for personal interpretation through the use of image and video.

We also read in Hesse that new forms of media which represent texts are not trying to overtake or “kill” old forms of texts, rather they are informing new texts. SO, how does this fit into my idea of new and old texts? The same way that Hesse describes! Since I would consider the essayistic an old form of “text”, and since the essayistic style of writing informs and impacts new forms of texts then I believe that older forms of texts (i.e. written page, column -by-column construction) have deliberately and artfully determined the path of new texts. What would new texts be without old texts? Would a discombobulated construction of web-text which floats around until clicked and can be read in any particular order function as a “new” text without the presence of “old” essayistic texts? I think not!

S. Andon said...

When it comes to literacy, I found the insights provided by our readings this week featured an interesting mix of new ways to appreciate and value the tension between new and old media. However, my perspective is based primarily on the growing tension that exists between producers of new and old media. In a now-famous segment of the HBO show "Costas Now," Bob Costas moderated a debate between journalist Buzz Bissinger (author of "Friday Night Lights") and internet blogger Will Leitch (editor of the sports blog Deadspin). The video is located here:

The vitriol spewed from Bizzinger and, in a way Costas, towards Leitch epitomized the conflict between old and new media. For some reason, newspaper journalists feel a sense of entitlement in regards to their profession and their product. Perhaps this air is simply due to their professional training, or their inside access to athletes, or maybe it's a self-defense mechanism that seeks to protect their livelihoods, yet, their disdain for blogs is far from reticent. As a side note and in order to place Bissinger's holier-than-thou attitude, Bissinger attended Phillips Academy in Andover then the University of Pennsylvania, has won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting, and is a Harvard Nieman Scholar.

On the show, Bissinger critiqued sports blogs particularly - for their often crass commentary - by claiming that "blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they're dedicated to journalistic dishonesty." His rant continued, "It really pisses the shit out of me. It is the complete dumbing down of our society."

It seems that Bissinger would join the list of critics addressed by Hesse, who lamented the end of an essayist era. What Bissinger failed to grasp was that there is plenty of valid work being done on blogs and they cannot be labelled as lowering the discourse just based on a few bad apples making lewd comments under blog postings - a point which was supported by a Kansas City journalist Joe Posnanski,

How are you going to judge blogs and the Internet because some anonymous jerk on a message board or in a comment section decides to tell poo-poo jokes about Tony LaRussa? Are books dedicated to murderous anti-semitism because Hitler wrote ”Mein Kampf?“ Is music dedicated to demeaning women because Flo-Rida sang “Low?” (

I am tired of the complaints from aging newspaper-lifers decrying the value of the Internet. And while I do not believe that any value is added to this example from the example of the palimpsest or paratxis and hypotaxis, Ron Fortune's short piece on "openness" can be applied.

Blogs are simply open, therefore, by the nature of their existence as a hyperdocuments. As a contrast, in his several books, Bissinger has not been so kind as to provide us the backstory that is necessary for printed text to be considered open. And, in a way, doesn't the openness of the Internet paired with its ability to encourage new modes of composition, make it such an exciting medium?

For me, it is the ability for new media (and Blogs) to open up my understandings to elements that exist far outside the traditional printed topoi. Bissinger has to face it, not all printed text is literary gold, in fact, sports writing can often be stuffy, pompous, or lacking in creativity and effort. Blogs give people opportunities to add to a discourse, be creative, and explore issues that no journalist could touch.

Referring back to Posnanski, he inferred that the best sportswriters of tomorrow are blogging on the Internet today. Bissinger wrote this comment off because he felt Posnanski, who operates a blog, was simply saying that to appease the blogosphere.

It's clear to me that there is a connection between old and new and that the two are not that different. But the derision and arrogance that frames the tension that traditional journalists have towards new media is both shortsighted and abstruse - like fearing the end of the world in Y2K. Trust me Buzz, it's not the end of the world as we know it.

Katie said...

I am going to begin by playing devil’s advocate in response to the beginning of Rory’s post. In this I will reflect on “new,” “text,” “remediation,” and “rhetorical situation.”
Are there really new texts, or is the “new” merely in the delivery – ie medium and context? While I am probably not in the position to ask this question because of my lack of knowledge in the area, I cannot help but ask myself if the rhetorical situations of human life have changed to the extent that entire “new texts” have been developed.
Perhaps, however, my question is really about the definition of text. If we consider text to be a composition of some sort, of course there are new texts. However, are the texts that we consider new more remixes or … remediations … of previous texts? Or am I just talking about genre? Do the situations in which we create texts remain the same to the extent that the new media of the text changes it and the situation?
For example, this may be a stretch, but it seems that telegraphing and texting are distanced by degree but not necessarily situation. (Thus, I might argue that texting did not begin as a new text – but, really became one after effective marketing jump started its popularity) When telegraphs were popular was the idea not to send a quick message when a letter or phone call were not necessary? To this I would add a factor of economy. Minus medium I am not sure that texting is all that far away from the telegraph. This leads me then to suggest that while the situation of terrestrial experience and the needs of communication may not have changed so dramatically as it seems, the mediums that have facilitated these exchanges are now catalyzing a move towards “new texts” in the expectations that they set up within a contemporary “reading” public.
Thus, I think that the notion of new text is one that occurs in what might perhaps be a new (maybe remediated?) rhetorical situation. While newspaper reading may be unchanged in name and perhaps action, it has been remediated and now finds itself in a context with dramatically shifting expectations from readers. These expectations, while not occurring immediately upon the advent of the internet, have developed over time. Consequently, the parameters of newspaper reading in the 21st century are significantly distanced from those of the 19th century. The extent of this shift can be seen in the discussion that now appears around circular reading practices that have developed online and are increasingly beginning to reshape the experience of other texts.

Tony said...

I think Rori keys in on the key difference between older and newer texts near the end of his post: the affordances are the primary difference. I agree.

Does being left-handed matter when you're using a keyboard? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But you can't argue that it matters the way it matters when you're composing with a pen or pencil. There's an example of a key change in the affordance of the materials of composition.

There was a time, we're told, when some teachers forced students to learn to write with their right hand--that logic won't work for the keyboard. It would be completely absurd.

I am left-handed, so maybe I'm focusing too much on that. There's no telling how many ways the material conditions can change as we compose; it's a circulation issue. A digital recorder calls upon one's voice to compose; a keyboard calls upon both hands and (usually) one's eyes; and a tablet calls upon only one hand and also one's eyes. I think I've learned that the message changes as we reinvent it in different mediums, which harks back to MacLuhan I suppose.

Okay, so where my post has led is into three topics we've discussed in our class this term: affordances, circulation, and palimpsest. The three go together, and I do think they have an interesting force in theory building, at least in the context of our conversations and the things we've read thus far.

emily said...

I want to talk about the accessibility of new media versus old media. When we think of old media, we think of tradition forms (print, TV, film, etc). New forms—especially blogs—are vastly different. I keep thinking about Johnson’s concept of push and pull where we are either fed media, or we choose media by consuming it or creating it ourselves. It seems that much of the new media/ old media dialogue focuses on the affordances new media provides its users. Obama and his camp use new media because it allows for the populist accessibility that allows his campaign to be driven and determined as much by his advisors as by his supporters. This accessibility is a direct result of new media’s capabilities.

Doug Hesse refers in his piece to several varieties of new media available through the internet. While he compares them to traditional media like The Tatler, the differences are more striking to me. What makes new media—say Facebook—different from old media is that new media is at the users fingertips 24 hours a day. Rather than sitting ready on my couch with my TV turned to channel 12 to hear Brian Williams broadcast the news at 6pm, I can go to It’s about frequency, accessibility, and—most importantly—the up-to-date-ness of online news. I don’t have to wait; I can get it myself when I am ready! This is the difference between old media and new media that I most relate to. It’s the part that most affects my life.

Rather than wait for someone to write, edit, publish, and mail me a magazine, I can go check I’ll still read my magazine, even though I already know the news inside of it. I already found news out the day—maybe even hour—it happened. What I’ll look for in old media is the content that outlasts time. I’ll read features and opinions, but anything current I’ll find online. So, for me, new media presents accessibility on my schedule—not anyone else’s. New media provides me with the convenience old media lacks.

Scott said...

I entered this course convinced the digital revolution was real and that it was, in fact, a revolution. By "revolution," I mean a supplanting of older forms of media (despite their stubborn persistence) and the ways of thinking associated with them. I realize now that new media would not exist without the older forms. Cue here the symbiotic relationship referenced in the "The Beltway Blog Battle". But as Poniewozik suggests, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to tell "who's the rhino and who's the tickbird." Regardless of which form of media assumes the more dominant role, however, what matters is that the invention of new media generally does not signal the death knell of older forms. This has been a prominent theme in many of our readings. For example, Bolter and Grusin tell us that we can only understand new media forms as a result of the elements they borrow from older forms. It it this familiarity that allow us to engage with the new forms. While these elements are primarily a matter of materiality for Bolter and Grusin, the digital symposium we read for today's class shows that these elements are a matter of both materiality and ways of thinking. Of particular interest to me was the extent to which older and newer forms of media, i.e. print and digital forms, feature similar ways of thinking--namely parataxis and openness. This raises a question for me as to whether new ways of thinking accompany new forms of media, or if new forms of media are just more able to materialize the ways in which we've thought all along.