Conference Proposal: From the Technopoetic to the Technosocial or Where Next, Now that Computers and Writing has Taken Over the World?

In 1995 I gave a presentation at the Computers and Writing Conference in El Paso called “From Browsers to Builders.” It looked at shifts in writing required by the Web, adapting theories that emerged from stand-alone hypertexts into tenets like “don’t create dead-end links” or “make sure you have consistent menus to orient readers.” In 2000 at the conference in Fort Worth, I spoke in “Toward a Web Poetics” of a need to broaden our thinking about online writing. At the time, the growing ubiquity of computers and shifts in the field of rhetoric and composition caused some to wonder, “Is Computers and Writing really necessary any longer?” I argued that a technopoetics was best articulated by a special group, a group able to recognize the exuberance that could be had from online composing. In 2005 I spoke at the Conference on College Composition and Communication about the the community that had developed around the photoshopping of images at Five years later, that transformation is nearly complete. From friends composing status updates to neighbors collaborating on Google Docs, computers and writing are deeply woven into our interactions. Today, we need a technosocial understanding of how computers and writing are bringing us together. In this presentation I will recall the inventive heart of the technopoetics that developed from the early Web, and then demonstrate how a technosocial approach can help us recognize the creativity and joy that are at the center of the Web’s social turn.