Below we share a portion of Linda Adler-Kassner's introduction to Joyce before Joyce's Chair's Address in Houston, the full Red Rhetor podcast episode in which Michael interviewed Joyce (Faris, 2017), the video of the Eye Guide tracking software that Joyce shared during her address, and some extra gifs from the final video.
Linda Adler-Kassner Introduces Joyce
Red Rhetor Episode
In this episode of Red Rhetor, titled "Making the CCCC Chair's Address: An Interview with Joyce Locke Carter," Michael interviewed Joyce about her process of creating her address and her hope for the field of rhetoric and writing studies. Excerpts of this podcast episode were used in our discussion of the context of her address.
Michael: Welcome to the first official episode of Red Rhetor. I’m your host, Michael Faris, and this is a Podcast out of the Media Lab at Texas Tech University's English Department. Today I'm sharing an interview with Joyce Carter, who in April gave the Chair's Address at the annual convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Houston. In her address, titled "Making, Disrupting, Innovating," Joyce argued that we in rhetoric and composition need to be engaged in the dual processes of advocacy and making. She especially focused on making. Here's the last minute of her address, where Joyce charges the field with making:
Joyce: Now, for your part, here's my charge for this CCCC and beyond. Go forth and innovate. Disrupt. Make. Reframe. To circle back around to how I started this talk, consider the words of my friend (and punk philosopher) Geoff Sirc (1997): "Punk is not a helping discipline; it doesn’t want to reform, but rather re-form" (p. 14).
Yes, Re Form, Re Make. Re Make through your innovation and your disruption. Take the initiative—Don't wait for someone to give you permission. You'll be waiting a long time. Conserve what's worth conserving and jettison the rest in the name of creative destruction. Go learn to code and write an app.
Invent or reinvent something. Make movies, interviews, podcasts. Make connections with your colleagues in STEM fields. Make new rhetorics, new publications, new pedagogies, new research methods. Make new companies, new products, new services. Continue to make new writers. In short, for our organization and our discipline, Make a difference.
Michael: Joyce and I sat down over dinner and a few beers at Funky Door in Lubbock a few weeks after the conference in Houston. Lucky for you listeners, this episode is mostly Joyce talking—she was so generous that I barely had to ask any questions for about a half hour.
I asked Joyce how she prepared for her Chair's Address, and what I really love about this conversation is Joyce's focus on her composing process: She discusses the technologies she used, the music and the performances that have inspired her, and more. Later in the conversation, Joyce talks about her hope in the field of rhetoric and writing studies.
Joyce is a good friend and colleague of mine here at Texas Tech, though by the time you're listening to this podcast, she will likely have started her new job as Chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
You'll have to forgive me for the sound in this podcast. A local musician was providing some great ambience to the conversation, so occasionally the background music gets a little loud. But you should be able to make out Joyce's voice pretty well.
So, here's the interview:
["Kill the Old" by the League, 2016]
Michael: I know we’ve chatted about this before, but how do you prepare to give the CCCC Chair's Address?
Joyce: You mean me personally? Because I don't know how one does it. It is an insane, insanely difficult thing. I knew I had to do it when I got elected. I didn't really think much about it. I was sitting just to the right of Adam Banks at—in Tampa we did it old-style. This year was the first time we did it in an arena-style. You know, you're sitting facing the audience and you're up on that podium. And I was trying to not look panicked. But it began sinking in in that moment that I've gotten myself into some deep stuff here. 'Cause he's doing such a great job. I wasn't even looking at the words. I was thinking, This is a long speech, and it's hard.
So I like to check in on tradition and rules. So what I did was I looked: There's nothing in what you read. There's nothing in the election stuff. It's just custom. What we have is a history. So I looked at Duane Roen's (2006) collection. I had first gathered all the [Chairs' Address] since 1979, so I didn't get anything before '79. And I read those. But then I also I realized I had Duane Roen's collection, which has not only the essays but also the authors' reflections. And a little bit from the audience's reactions. My huge mistake was I started reading through that, and I got all panicked because the preface and everything is about how important this talk is. It's a watershed moment. It's a milestone. It's like Jesus Christ, that is too much! It really is too much. It's not in the bylaws or anything. It's just what’s expected.
So last year, after Tampa, after school was out, I started thinking about this seriously. I'll tell you exactly where I started putting pen to paper. I was sitting in the far back seat of a Land Cruiser, a safari vehicle. I was in Botswana. It was zipping down the—not zipping—it was in the Kalahari Sands. We were going along, and I was sitting in the far back seat listening to French punk music. And the wind was in my hair. And the great smell of the sage that's all in the African desert. And I just felt—and there's wind in my face—I felt so alive and so full of possibility that I said, This is what I want the speech to feel like. I don't know what it's going to say, but I want this feeling. So I got my little black book out and I started writing, just about that.
And the first thing I began thinking of was—just brainstorming, just freewriting. What kinds of things have people done in the past? It seems like there’s three or four basic speeches, and I think Duane Roen (2006) comes to the same conclusion. There's your basic state of the union or state of the field kind of speech. There is the pet project thing. When Malea Powell (2012) talked about Native Americans and the Cahokia—and the way that Native Americans have been moved around: That was specific to St. Louis because Cahokia was just across the river. So you've got your pet project that you want the field to know about but the field doesn't pay much attention to. Then there's the alarm: We have to do something. That's Maxine Hairston’s (1985) speech, right. Not an alarm, but a call to action of some sorts. Cynthia Selfe's (1999) is the same way: There's this thing happening, and if we don't pay attention, we're going to be rendered obsolete.
So I brainstormed that, and I said, ok, I can certainly do one of those. I mean, how bad is it? I mean, things are pretty good by and large. So some kind of state of the union, right? So that was the end of what I worked on in Africa. I wrote about 10 pages, just jotting notes down. The nature of rhetoric. What I wanted—It wasn't words, but it was concepts. I wanted to talk about—and I carried forward all that stuff from Tampa. When I wrote the call for papers in Tampa, I wanted to take this shot. You only get one shot. That’s the only time…
My image is what if you—It's not quite a wake, because you're dead for a wake, but what if you could get everyone together. If they were all together, and they were predisposed to listening, what would you say? To your colleagues or to the entire field, right? Or to history, for that matter. Of our short little history of our field.
This is what I said in Tampa also: Composition has got to have a rhetorical foundation. So rhetoric must be part of the Tampa convention. I want rhetoric to be foundational to what I say in the keynote speech. Because it's possible, and it's not in my life, but it's possible for composers and composition teachers to see writing as imitation or generic, or something like that.
Michael: Or transactional, yeah.
Joyce: Exactly. Business communication does that all the time. Here's how you write in business class: Imitate. There's no rhetoric or rhetorical analysis at all. So I really wanted that. I wanted technical communication to be prominent in Tampa and in the speech because—it's my opinion—but I think that, as I said in my talk also—It ended up being a real substantial part of the talk in Houston. We imagine when we teach composition as being eroded from a number of places: Composition is dead, long live composition. I think composition lives in something like technical communication, or business communication, or nonprofit writing, or something. It may not be, I mean, we don’t write for expressionism anymore, but there was a time when composition was all about your feelings, right? Kenneth Bruffee and Ken Macrorie. So it died. But it didn't die.
So I think the college writing—or the great essay, I don’t know. So I wanted to make sure I mentioned technical communication or some sort of sense about transactional writing. And that got me thinking about innovation, sort of, or technology. I wanted to mention Computers and Writing, because I think C&W is a bastard step-child—not a bastard, but it depends on the Chair and it depends on how times go, whether CCCC thinks that…
Michael: So at this point, we got cut off as our server offered us bread and took our empty beer bottles. So, Joyce was saying that CCCC has an ambivalent relationship with Computers and Writing—sometimes C&W seems integrated within CCCC, and sometimes it seems marginalized. Back to the interview.
Joyce: You know, it kind of comes and goes, whether it's a minority thing, or whether it's in the majority sort of depends. If you don't talk about it, it goes away. It becomes a thing that nobody cares about. And I wanted the innovation that I think is inherent in C&W to be present in Tampa. That's another thing that I brought from Tampa: The Ignite stuff, the C&W alternate forms of presentation, posters, all the sort of stuff. It was already there in Tampa, so I began writing about—What are they, and what forms might they take?
That began forming this idea that that's kind of—I want to try to imagine—not that I'm a soothsayer or anything, but I wanted to imagine, what might be some of the ways that if what we think of as writing teachers and what we do, if that gets eroded from any number of places, where are the exciting parts? And I jotted that down. That's what I jotted down in Africa, and I promptly sort of jotted around the margins. And I came back to it in earnest when I got back to the States and when school started. And I started in earnest writing lots and lots of pages. I threw most of them away.
Michael: As we do.
Joyce: So as I began thinking, I began to get really resentful about the whole process. If I gave a student an assignment, I said, Here's the assignment: Write 40 pages, or 40 minutes. Make it meaningful. I'm not going to tell you what to write. There's no topic, there's no genre. But you have to do it. You can't get out of it. You can't delay. It has to be delivered on this date. And it has to be good. I would get penalized for having a crappy assignment. You'd say, this is not—you need a rubric. You need, you know, whatever we do for assessment, right? So I realized that it's a really weird—and I've carried that theme of weirdness all the way through. It's such a strange circumstance. So I quit thinking about it as a piece of writing and [instead] as a performance, which has really helped a lot. And I think my tone was—I think my structure was academic, but the tone I tried to make me-conversational and not too literary, not too, um… I think I achieved that. I mean, some of my drafts were bloated and long and had periodic sentences and that kind of stuff, and I tried to change it around some.
Michael: Yeah, I think it delivered well.
Joyce: Redoing it and re-looking at it, I think there's some places where I had some things that worked in writing that didn't work in speaking because I could hear them when I delivered them because they weren’t quite—I could see the punctuation in my head, and I tried to do that with pauses and with voices and with my hands and stuff. But I think 90 percent or maybe 85 percent I did pretty conversationally. But that really helped. That was a huge crutch to think of it as a Ted Talk. That was, in my mind, was what I kind of wanted to do: a long Ted Talk. So once I began thinking of it in terms of a Ted Talk, then I said, What kind of exhibits do I want to have? PowerPoint? Or do I want to do Prezi? I thought, I had a student write me out of the blue, just before Tampa, about six months before Tampa. His name's Hugh MacLeod, and he's a cartoonist, and he does live drawings to support keynote talks, so I thought…
Michael: Server's back. We got interrupted a few times.
Joyce: Man, that would be great! What if I could get him, and he could just draw live while I talk?
Michael: That would be so cool!
Joyce: And I saw some of his videos, so I reached out to him, and the conversation fell off, so that was it. So I thought, okay, so this is what I want. I want the spirit of that. I want something that's different. And it didn't help—This is like the lack of assignment in writing. It didn't help that everyone in the Executive Committee and the Officers team said—like Linda, when she was setting up Houston last summer, she had done a site visit because you do a site visit the summer before. She said, "You’re going to love this. We have an arena that we can do 360 degrees, but I'm just going to block it off to just like two sections. But it's a regular stage, and you can fly in on a wire if you want to." She said, "But I’ve already two big screens because I know that anything you do is going to be way up there and innovative." So I thought, well, thanks a lot. It’s hard enough to write the thing. Now you have—
Michael: all this pressure
Joyce: So I was thinking I was going to do it down, because like Adam just did words because, you know, people have overdone the production stuff, and he had a good point. Like Malea really did a big thing, which I thought was really neat. I really loved Malea's in the sense that it was like a Ted Talk that was so informative. But I could see Adam's point. The pressure is enormous.
At the same time, I felt, I can take this challenge. I'm up to it. So then I began thinking about—and I've always been a presenter who used real minimal PowerPoints. I never do bullet stuff. I try to put a word on the screen or a phrase or a quote—because I want when I'm speaking, I want my words and my face and my eye contact with the audience to be the primary thing. And I'll give them notes. So I really hate—
Michael: PowerPoint Parroting?
Joyce: Exactly. "Here's what I'm going to tell you. Here's the ten slides." It's like a five-paragraph essay. And I don't want to do that. So I was already predisposed to that kind of stuff. I've done a lot through our May Seminar and for other talks. Just five or ten slides that are key exhibits, pictures, or bar charts or scatterplots, I think things that you would normally want to look at. But since this was really an opinion piece, I didn't really have any particular exhibits when I first started thinking about it.
And I don't know when it hit me—I know exactly when it hit me. I was at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October, and I was watching, because they had two big screens—I was up close, we bought VIP tickets. We splurged. I was up close for all kinds of acts like Dave Grohl and those guys, and I realized—
Michael: So, our server came back again, this time for a bit longer, and raved about Dave Grohl, so Joyce and she had a conversation about Austin City Limits. An enjoyable conversation, but one I'm cutting out for this podcast.
Joyce: But I realized they used those big screens just to show the people way back in the cheep seats. They don't do visualizations. I either saw—I started thinking about it. Somehow in my mind, I thought, You could use visualizations. Like sometime after ACL—ACL doesn't do visualizations. They just do multiple camera shots on the big screen so you can see. So I thought we could do that, that's just looking at me. There's nothing to look at. But then I was watching a… like in October, maybe when I got back, it was something on HBO and it was the Who in Hyde Park. And they had tv screens. But that was actually not what ACL did. It was a lot of visualizations. It was using video feeds that were through a ripple effect or a number of things.
Joyce: So I said, that's actually really interesting. And about the same time I began thinking about the theme. So disruption wasn't it. I was using "creative destruction," which is economist [Joseph] Schumpeter's term. I didn't want to use destruction, so I started using disruption. A little bit business-y jargon, but less frightening than destruction. So I thought, so what if you disrupt something, it doesn't matter if you see the guitar or the face. The idea is that you're supplementing and augmenting this experience with something different.
So then sometime around Christmas I began thinking, just about the time that I had to have some copy to stick in the program—I didn’t have the thing finished, so I wrote 500 words about the talk. And I began thinking really seriously. Then I downloaded this software called Magic and I started playing around with it. And I said, This is kinda corny, but I think we could make this work. So, since this was a Ted Talk and not a paper, I used the music venues I had seen, I used the text I was writing, and I used this music software, and I invented what I wanted it to look like and sound like all simultaneously. So I would write something, and I would say it and I would run it through these effects and play with stuff. And I began getting a little bit of confidence. This wouldn’t be too corny. I guess people can be the judge of that.
But it began giving me ideas. And it began supporting the idea that if I’m going to make the argument—and the argument began coalescing when I had to write that 500 words—that I want to attach the maker movement and the C&W people in general to the salvation of the field. Or at least one way to save the field. You can't preach to the people about being disruptive and innovative if you’re not going to take chances yourself. So the last line of that little blurb was I'm going to take some chances; I think I said something like that. I also took on your challenge and Casey Boyle's to use the word runcible, which I did.
Michael: Yes! You did!
Joyce: And I got that idea when we were at the Dandy Warhols in Austin. I couldn't find a way to put it in the talk, but I did put it in the teaser thing in the program.
Michael: That was great!
Joyce: That last line, that I will take some chances, and I said, yeah! So from December, I'd write a little bit, I'd think about how it would look, I think about how I would say it, and then I would revise and cut and move. So really seriously from January through to about March, it was very fluid. I had fragments everywhere. I was also dictating: With dictations, I could hear phrases. I'd be driving to work in the car and then as soon as I got into the office, I would sit and type those up. They'd be in a file. And then next day I would do the same thing. And then in March I tried to collate all these things, and I found like ten things that all said the same thing…
Michael: Sorry for that abrupt cutoff—server again, delivering our food. Joyce managed to say this during our conversation with the server:
Joyce: But they sounded different, so that was really actually hard to try to find the right version of what I wanted to say.
Michael: We discussed our food with the server, and then Joyce dove right back into discussing her process:
Joyce: But the oral thing I really liked because I would drive down the road on the way to work and I would just imagine—It's corny, but it really helped—the end of Linda's introduction: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Joyce Carter." And music to play me on. I played all this music, and I would just play that music in the car and then turn it down and start. And I would just go. It really helped. It helped get not afraid of it, but also helped remind me that this is a visual thing and an experiential thing for the audience. Performers know this all the time. Writers I don't think sometimes think about that. So it really got me in that right mindset.
I'd go in order. The first part got worked and worked and worked through February and March until I really—smy hardest challenge was just cutting it until it made sense. And I cut more than I left in. Which is fine. I didn't want to get—Having a firm 40-minute deadline really helped.
So that was my composing process. End of March—spring break into the first week of April when we had to go to Houston, I locked myself into a room, literally. It was really hard. The hardest part, because I was really trying to put it all together, and Becky [Rickly] was on leave, so she wasn't there. Nobody was here in Lubbock. And I was also packing my house and cleaning up the house and getting it ready for sale. It feels a little bit like the first part of Apocalypse Now when he's in the room and he's lost all—he's just stuck in his room drinking, right? Martin Sheen. And it's also like Up the River, where all rules have gone away. And it was really just very primal. I would walk around the house just talking and hearing my voice. It was crazy, actually.
And I wish I hadn't waited until—I wish I had done that more in March rather than at the end of March and April. That deadline was a great way to cut. Having the exhibits and the last ten minutes of the websites of people who I thought were doing a good job, was one of the last issues I had. I knew I wanted to call them out, but I didn'’t know how much I wanted to. But I realized it was really really important rhetorically to not just say, I'm taking some chances in this talk—big deal. I wanted to show—that was nothing. Once I realized that, that gave me a lot of meat near the end.
Somewhere I saw on the Twitter feed, somebody said, That was really—and I try to channel them—"you're saying this is all well and good but this has nothing to do with writing." Somebody tweeted, "That’s exactly what I’m thinking."
Michael: The server offers us more beer, and we kindly oblige.
Joyce: That's more or less how you write—how I write.
Joyce: I was making changes right up until the night before.
Michael: That was like some Paul Prior and Jody Shipka (2003) process stuff right there.
Joyce: It was really hard.
Michael: It was great.
Joyce: I made some final cuts in Houston. And I still didn't really know how—We had said we would work together, but I didn't really know how it was going to work. So I still had this plan B, which is that I would have to have this little table on the side and I'd have to play my own transitions. I was thinking this is going to either a total disaster or it'll be like The Wizard of Oz where everyone thinks there's this really great thing going on, and I'm just pulling the levers, you know, and making the fire come out. But I realized I should surrender to the chaos. And it was just rationalizing, but it seems like that was also in the rhetoric and in the argument of the talk.
Failure is just fine.
Joyce: And I hadn't thought about making failure a major—I use failure quite a bit in a few places. But I realized that's got to be part of it. Because the fear of trying something like programming is maybe that you look stupid and fail, and I think that's got to be okay. I’ve got to try and fail. It's alright. I take some solace in that. That even if I fail, I'll have a throwaway line that, I'll say, Well, there you go, there’s a perfect example of failure right there. I think I could do that and still be alright.
Michael: Here we switch gears in our conversation from Joyce's process in preparing for the talk to her hope for the field of rhetoric and composition.
Earlier you mentioned tone. You also said that you saw C&W and other technology stuff as the salvation. One thing that really struck me about your talk was you had this setup moment a few minutes in that really painted a dire picture of the field: Composition is going to leave college and go to high schools, we're relying way too much on contingent faculty, core curriculum is dwindling at a lot of universities. But the talk itself was like, We've got a problem, but then it was super hopeful and future-oriented. What makes you so hopeful about composition and writing studies?
Joyce: I believe what I said before the dire part, when I said, These are great times. We are writing and reading more than ever. And I guess it's implied in a lot of it that people who study reading and writing aren't in the middle of things, maybe that we're—I don't know this for a fact. I maybe don't even believe it: Maybe we're not in the middle of things because we haven't put ourselves in the middle. Not that we're being bad or nostalgic or anything. Because that's what disciplines do: They repeat themselves, they do their histories, and we teach from our teachers. But that's a dangerous—it's not even complacent. It's called tradition, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But it may put blinders on as to—and I think that we have been as a field completely blindsided by dual credit. And you can go back to early 1900s. Go back and look at Harvard's writing requirements and all this kind of stuff: Writing is foundational to all college experience. We'll always have that. But you know, I don't think we took seriously the idea that we might not always have that. So I think that's being a little bit—and still, people say, We'll still have—that's whistling past the graveyard.
There's some massive disruptions going on in higher ed. We tend to not be part of that.
But I'm hopeful. I think we have a lot of smart people. All the companies and innovative things that I put up on the screen. I'm very optimistic. There's so much creativity. I've seen so many interesting research methods. I think people in our field can—I'd put them against anybody in any field. I've been to dissertation defenses in other fields where I'’m like, Is that it? Not to be snotty about it, or snooty, but I think that we have a really high caliber rhetoric and composition who have found a way to tie very small techniques of putting words together and the history of making those words persuade people, to delight people, and put them in a broader context of special circumstances like writing in the workplace or writing for certain industries, into a broader context of society and social—like the way language works for society and identity.
That's like theory of the cosmos from particles all the way to galaxies and the universe. I think we evolve by accretion that way. I think the field has a big dirty snowball of a comet. We picked up linguistic theory, Ferdinand de Saussure, Foucault, and Derrida, and we've got transactional writing—There's all this stuff, and it's all part of what makes us. And it is a dirty snowball. And it glows, right? There's synergy between all those perspectives.
And I think there's some other—I have a degree in business, and I've met business people. I think they do amazing things, but they're not typically indoctrinated into the business world: You can't teach entrepreneurship. And I think our field has done some incredibly creative things. It's unfortunate cuz our field doesn't have a "good name": writing or composition. Knowing what we're capable of doing, what many of us have done, unbelievable books and theories. Recovering feminist rhetors, for example, a wonderful project. The whole project starting in the '80s of looking at writing in the workplace. So easy to think of now, but instead of imaging how people write, why don't we go and study how they write? That's brilliant! And that's just grabbing stuff from psychology and sociology. We have no core, and that's what's so beautiful about it.
We're not a pure field, and I think that's just beautiful. It's terrific for the postmodern age. I think we've got everything necessary to succeed. I think we're just probably too optimistic and a little naive sometimes.
I thought a lot about where that despairing part needed to go. Because I needed to say honest things and I wanted the tone of my talk to be honest, talking amongst friends and colleagues. I wanted to give the same talk that we'd have sitting at the bar. So I wanted that to be like that. So I didn't want to be like, I'm pronouncing anything. It's just stuff we talk about. I want to talk about how CCCC has been opaque; I don't want to talk about how their has been problems in our field; I didn't want to leave it at that. Which is why I pivoted to the twin pillars of advocacy and making as outward looking. I don't want to say navel gazing, but inward-looking work—I don’t think inward-looking work solves any of these problems. It makes us feel better, it makes us a more inclusive organization, but that's internal politics and internal culture. And I really wanted to illustrate that: The problems we have are external. Yes, if we're not being fair to certain groups, yes, that's an internal problem, and it needs to be fixed, obviously. But like I said in the talk, no degree of making this the friendliest, most accepting organization on the face of this earth is going to address these external problems, so I wanted to pivot to external problems and external solutions. And to be very optimistic about external solutions, because I am optimistic.
Michael: And on that optimistic note, our conversation about CCCC drew to a close. From here, Joyce and my conversation shifted to discussing new media, music, and all sorts of other topics—and maybe there's enough there for a future episode. But for now, I'’m going to sign off on this episode. I'd like to thank Joyce for her graciousness with her time and her experiences. I'll provide a link to her Chair's Address in our podcast description so you can see the whole thing.
Our opening song was "No Ska Today" by Skabrot (2014), and I also played "Kill the Old" by The League (2016). Both bands' music is available on Jamendo. Until next time, folks.
References in This Podcast Episode Not Listed in Our Webtext's References Page
Hairston, Maxine. (1985). Breaking our bonds and reaffirming our connections. College Composition and Communication, 36(3), 272–282.
League, The. (2016). Kill the old [MP3]. Jamendo. Retrieved from https://www.jamendo.com/track/1316756/kill-the-old
Prior, Paul, & Shipka, Jody. (2003). Chronotopic laminations: Tracing the contours of literate activity. In Charles Bazerman & David R. Russell (Eds.), Writing selves/writing socities: Research from activity perspectives (pp. 180–238). Fort Collins, CO: WAC Clearinghouse. Retrieved from http://wac.colostate.edu/books/selves_societies/prior/prior.pdf
Skabrot. (2014). No ska today [MP3]. Jamendo. Retrieved from https://www.jamendo.com/track/1136142/no-ska-today
Eye Guide Tracking Video
This is the video of eye-tracking software that Joyce shared during her address in Houston. It's in the full video (at 37:06) but it's pretty cool, so we wanted to share it here as well. As Joyce said during her address:
At Texas Tech University's Usability Research Lab several years ago, we developed a research question about knowing whether the user saw something on the screen or not, and we identified eye-tracking as the right method to answer that question—but the eye-trackers on the market were well outside of our budget. But innovative grad students and faculty Nathan Jahnke and Brian Still asked, I wonder if we could do the same thing? All we need is to put a camera close to the user's eye, and then write some software that would find and identify the pupil as it moved around. And thus EyeGuide was born, and enabled researchers to follow an eye around the screen. You've all seen heatmaps of patterns of interest on ads or other images, and that was our initial market. But check this out:
Just look at that. It's beautiful—each dot is a reader's eye as it engages the text. Some are slow, some fast, but all of them play across the text in their own reading. This is my area of research, and we're observing, visualizing a biological audience in ways audience theory rarely ventures. (36:27–37:32)
Some Extra GIFs
In our discussion of the context of this remediation and our intentions, we shared a few gifs pulled from the final remediated video. Here are a few more. Hover over the static image to play the gif file or click on it to open it in a new tab.