"I have started to think more in terms of generations, hardware, and economics. It's the case of my students compose one way, my generation another, and my parents' generation a different way all in the same medium."
-Kirk St. Amant
I have started to think more in terms of generations, hardware, and economics. That is, who uses different online media to compose and access composed texts can vary along generational lines. So too can the rhetorical strategies one uses to compose via an online medium. It's the case of my students compose one way, my generation another, and my parents' generation a different way all in the same medium. To this end, I think we, as a field, need to do more research on both:
We need both kinds of data to better understand composing and reading practices in international online contexts.
"The central issue is making students aware that when composing online, they are inherently composing for an international audience. What does this mean? How should they write for or engage that audience via their online compositions?"
In terms of hardware, it's a matter of what kinds of physical technologies individuals use to compose online, and how this aspect of physical technologies—or hardware—differs from nation to nation. Many individuals in industrialized nations, for example, still use desktop and laptop computers for composing online texts. Yet in the world's emerging economies, the majority of individuals use handheld technologies—usually mobile phones—to compose online and to access online texts. The question thus becomes how do these aspects of hardware affect both the composing practices and conventions and the reading practices and expectations in different nations? After all, this hardware factor affects everything from interface size to the softwares one can access and use (e.g., if they don't have an app for it, can you use the software on your handheld?).
Finally, there's the notion of economics. In industrialized nations, online business is based on the transaction of funds via computing systems, and this overall approach is founded on systems of credit tied to banking practices and associated with monetary funds. In many emerging economies, however, online credit payment systems are still emergent—and sometimes, nonexistent. As a result, alternative online payment systems have evolved, such as using cell phone minutes as a form of currency individuals can exchange for other items online. What do these different systems mean in terms of paying for access to online materials in global contexts? What do they mean in terms of paying for online access or for bandwidth use? These are major questions that need answers, for they have profound implications for online composing practices (e.g., what you can "purchase" in order to compose online as well as what you can "purchase" to access and read online texts).
In terms of teaching the topic, the central issue is making students aware that when composing online, they are inherently composing for an international audience. What does this mean? How should they write for or engage that audience via their online compositions? These are the central questions educators need to have students engage with to help them better understand this new, international context of writing online.
—webtext & interview by Gustav Verhulsdonck 2017