Johnson – Chapter 2 Refiguring the End of Technology: Rhetoric and the Complex of Use
“Art – the systematic, creative knowledge of craft and technique” “Language, and by extension, technology, is a force that, like fire, can be used for burning, but can also burn those who use it.” “Language and other technologies are tools that can serve practical or mundane functions like making, shaping, or fixing.” “But language is also power. It can persuade, control, and manipulate. When language is power, its usefulness is altered from a relatively neutral activity to an activity charged with opinion and controversy.” (p. 18-19)
“We are enamored of the things that technology can promise, but we simultaneously live in fear of the power that unchecked growth and dissemination of technology has over our lives” (p. 20)
Rhetoric as “cookery” or a “knack” “Rhetoric, however, has another meaning—one positive and powerful. In this uplifted sense, rhetoric is the art of creating (inventing), arranging, and delivering language for the purpose of evoking action upon the part of an audience” (p. 21-22) “That is, rhetoric is a systematic series or collection of techniques that makes the production and dissemination of language strategic for the orator or writer, and, due to its systematic and thus transferable nature, is teachable to others” (p. 22)
“Hence, the end of rhetoric as art is in the hearer, or as the analogy to housebuilding demonstrates, the end of any kind of human activity involving making and producing artifacts (whether material or discursive) is in the receiver or user of the product” (p. 23)
“In the Aristotelian definition of productive knowledge, the concept of art is referred to as techne.” (p. 23) Aristotle: Art (techne)/science (episteme) “Art in the realm of coming to be, science in the realm of being” (p. 23).
System-Centered Model of Technology “In general, the system-centered view holds that the technology, the humans, and the context within which they reside are perceived as constituting one system that operates in a rational manner toward the achievement of predetermined goals” (p. 25). “There is no need for the user to be involved with system or artifact development, this perspective suggests, because the system is too complex and therefore should be designed and developed by experts who know what is most appropriate in the system design” (p. 26)
“The interface is crucial to the user of the technology, but more often than not this intimate connecting point between technology and the user is relegated to the end of the development cycle” (p. 27). “user-friendly interfaces like these can mask the complexities of a system to such an extent that if there is a system breakdown, such as when you receive a cryptic error message that explains the problem in virtually encrypted language… you are left helpless, unable to solve the problem, and continue with your work because you are dependent on external expertise not available to you in any useful form” (p. 28)
User-Centered View of Technology “In a user-centered approach to technology, users are active participants in the design, development, implementation, and maintenance of the technology” “They are allowed to take part in a negotiated process of technology design, development, and use that has only rarely been practiced” (p. 32)
“Thus, collaboratively, the technology is created through a process of ‘give and take’ that places users on a par with the developers and the system itself: a space within which users and developers can learn to value each other’s knowledge and accept the responsibilities of technological design and development in new, shared ways” (p. 33)
“The user, in this rhetoricized space, becomes an active participant who can negotiate technology in use and development” (p. 33). “There is, though, one final stage necessary to complete the construction of the user-centered rhetoric, which entails complicating the rhetoric with the crucial elements of situation and constraint.” (p. 37).