“what should be an unforgettable face”

Wysocki and Jasken argue that the computer interface is simultaneously meant to be seen and forgetten. In other words, discourse about interface use and interface design attends to both what we see and what we don’t see.

Interface: a boundary between systems and the means by which communication is achieved at that boundary: “Interfaces are about the relations we construct with each other—how we perceive and try to shape each other—through the artifacts we make for each other.”

Background – an important part of composition has been inquiries into the screen, the interface: what they mean for writing, for teaching, and for knowledge-making: These writers thus ask teachers to look not only at what is on the screen, but at where the screen is and who is (and how many are) in front of the screen, and at who is “behind”; these writers ask us to try to see the already existing values and relationships that shape how designers and users approach computers and software, and they also ask us to see how softw are, in its turn and through its formal designs, shapes actions, thinking, and attitudes.

In other words, “we have to see interfaces as not just what is on screen but also what is beyond and around the screen if we want to understand how interfaces fit into and support the varied and entwined sets of practices that shape us.”

However, writing handbooks prepare students to not see the screen, to hardcode the form/content divide by attending 1st to the words on the page and 2nd to the styling of the page: “we see instruction that often constructs the technical as neutrally arhetorical; emphasizes getting work done—the values of efficiency, ease of use, and transparency—over other possible human activities and relations; and separates content from form, as though form contributes nothing to how others respond to and are shaped by the texts we make for each other.” In other words, writing handbooks ask students to treat web texts like print, ignoring the medium of the web and the possibilities for that medium. Or to say it yet another way, these handbooks disregard the possible rhetorical choices a student might make in favor of a set of tidy, prescriptive rules.

Suggestions:

  1. Ask students to redesign interfaces for different kinds of relations, i.e. different languages, collaboration, with/without a different kind of monitor
  2. Seeing texts of all kinds as interfaces – boundaries between people and systems

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