“If you aren’t given a lot of time to speak, talk fast.”
That was my motto going into this project, which was completed as part of my experience at the Digital Media and Composition institute this past summer. “Authentic Design” is an attempt to convey a sense of playfulness and frustration, along with a hefty warning to digital writing scholars: We need to understand that meaning is not inherent in our tools (writing, media, ideas, language) nor does meaning reside in ourselves. Rather, it exists in the space between our tools, ourselves, and each other—in the space of design. This piece makes a case for how dangerous it is to think about media affordances without thinking about the systems of activity in which they take place. Or, to put it another way, the next time you want a tasty burrito from an “authentic” Mexican restaurant, consider what the rhetorical purpose is of that media selling you a burrito, a restaurant, or a concept of authenticity. For more on the process of composing this piece, see my DMAC blog.
Douglas M. Walls is a PhD student in the Rhetoric and Writing program at Michigan State University and research assistant for the Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Center. His research interests focus on identity as informatics and knowledge work; the design of decolonial networked semiotic systems and new media, especially in composition classrooms; and distributed user-centered design and usability in writing assessment tools and research.
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