Kairos: Past, Present and Future(s)

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Kairos Was ...
(Doherty's Thread)

Kairos logo circa 1996.
CoverWebs: Promise and Praxis
(Salvo's Story)

So what is the purpose of writing? We were writing author-centered documents but were trying to write user-centered texts.

I started working with technical communciation and stumbled into user-centered design theory, most notably Donald Norman. He has written many interesting books since, but The Design of Everyday Things is still an eye-opener for folks like me making a transition from author-centered to user-centered design. I started thinking about what the future of writing might look like, if we started thinking about readers' comprehension and readers' experience with the artifact.

Will writing continue to be about displaying the author's erudition or will authorship itself continue to erode? Foucault's "What is an Author" is often cited when these issues arise, but I think we've wrung about as much as we can from this essay.

I fear that writing generally could come to resemble documentation, a reduction to the lowest common denominators of the audience. Yet digital technology also offers a promise of infinaite gradations of textual complexity, offering arguments tailored to the level of comprehension of the reader, incorporating the tastes and familiar references of the reader. In effect, there are possibilities for reader-centered text. But what will that take to create it — and what will it cost?

This requires an entirely new vision of the future of writing.