Thinking About Writing As A Medium


For the last two years, I have been very troubled by this word media and its many uses and applications. I’ve also been increasingly interested in the materialities of various forms of expression. The “material affordances of a medium,” as Charles Bazerman puts it, are always of interest to those who study literacies and literacy practices. But what is writing as a medium? Is it possible to approach the subject of writing and the practice of the teaching of writing from such a perspective? I think it may be. Furthermore, I believe there may be some very interesting insights produced as a result of this approach.

Communication in writing involves not just the production of a message, but the distribution and reception of this message. In some cases when there is more than one recipient, there is actually an additional step–the reproduction of a message. If we think about the various technologies used in the production, reproduction, distribution and reception in relation to one another–ink/handwriting, printing presses, typewriters, word processing programs, networked word processing programs, authoring software applications–some interesting observations can be made with regard to the technologies and languages involved in the process, as well as with regard to the existence and status of various remediations that take place.


Handwriting/Handwriting/Physical/Original or Handwritten Reproduction
Handwriting/Printing Press/Physical/Printed Reproduction
Typewriter/Printing Press/Physical/Printed Reproduction
Typewriter/Mimeograph/Physical/Mimeographed Reproduction
Typewriter/Photocopier/Physical/Photocopied Reproduction
Word Processor/Printing Press/Physical/Printed Reproduction
Word Processor/Printer/Physical/Network/Printed Reproduction
Word Processor/Word Processor/Network/Word Processor
Networked WP/ Networked WP/ Network/Networked WP
Authoring Software/Authoring Software/Physical/Viewing Software
Authoring Software/Authoring Software/Network/Viewing Software