Barbara Monroe

In her previous responses, Barbara’s focus concerned her family uses of the telephone and their preference for face-to-face communication.  In this response, Barbara is concerned with remediation.


"It is a given of the field that technological change is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. New media 'remediates' (Bolter & Grusin, 2000) old media, deriving from and building on previous incarnations: photography remediated painting, film remediated photography and theatre, television remediated film, etc. The ghosts in those machines past are sometimes so obvious that we are oblivious to them."  



The idea of technological hybridization and change can be at least partly understood through the concept of concretization forwarded by Gilbert Simondon that is used extensively in Andrew Feenberg's (1999) Questioning Technology. Feenberg wrote, "Concretization is the discovery of synergisms between the functions technologies serve and between technologies and their environments" (p. 217). Through the concretization process, technologies move from being unrelated and abstract (serving only one purpose) to being multifunctional. During this process the outcome is underdetermined; the possibilities for what might happen are multiple.


Cynthia Selfe and Gail Hawisher (2004) have argued that literacies and technologies emerge, overlap, compete, accumulate, and sometimes fade away. Specific literacies, they claimed, "accumulate, especially, perhaps in periods of transition" (p. 655). Literacies and technologies concretize but not without human intervention.  



We create and discover synergisms—the human element is fundamental to the process. We are part of the multifunctional convergences and concretizations. These processes don’t happen without us. Since the process is underdetermined and we have a role in it, we have a voice, a say, a responsibility to investigate (and even facilitate) the convergences and concretizations. Feenberg (1999) called for the democratization of technology during a phase of the technological process that he labels the "secondary instrumentalization” (p. 46). During this phase, technology is "integrated with the natural, technical, and social environments that support its functioning” (p. 205). According to Feenberg, the possibilities for agency become open to non-technological groups during the secondary instrumentalization.


The roles for savvy rhetoricians and composition teachers in a secondary instrumentalization for teaching composition are both exciting and challenging. One of the first steps in our consideration of this instrumentalization is inquiry into our students’ existing techno-rhetorical strategies. The question "Where have we been?” needs to precede questions about where we can go, how we can get there, or what destination we might reach. These are vital questions in A Pedagogy of Techno-memoria.