Unit 3: Space as Argument
In our previous two units, we’ve looked at how news reports are framed to reinforce or challenge the views of a publication’s readership and the ways that visuals are strategically designed to develop implicit arguments. Now, we will turn to the ways that space, particularly digital spaces, make implicit arguments about the participants and types of participation permitted in that space. This final unit will draw on your experience analyzing complex rhetorical situations, identifying implied audiences and additional stakeholders, making implicit genre conventions explicit through analysis, and documenting design choices.
Invention Writing Prompt: Digital Persona Argument Analysis
To begin developing an awareness of the way arguments take place in digital spaces, we will analyze how individuals exert power over their digital personas in social media while being profiled and sorted for commercial ends. For this Invention Writing assignment, you have two options:
- Analyze how you develop an argument about yourself through the creation and curation of one of your social media accounts
- Analyze the argument developed by advertising and third-party data collectors about who you are based on your online behavior and the behavior of others deemed “like” you
For the first option, you will need to include screenshots of your online behavior on one social media platform in order to develop an argument about how you present yourself. For the second option, you will use information from Oracle Data Cloud Registry, Google Ads Settings, Facebook Ad Preferences, Your Twitter Data, Instagram’s Ads Interests, and/or other similar resources to develop an analysis of the argument being made about you.
This Invention Writing is considered complete if the IW
- analyzes how your digital persona is being developed by you or advertisers,
- uses primary research, including screenshots of your online behavior or of the advertiser assessments of your online behavior, to develop your analysis,
- reflects on how the digital persona developed by you or advertisers connects with your offline identity and behaviors,
- Is at least 750 words, and
- is submitted on time.
November 19—Invention Writing due to WordPress site; use “Digital Persona Analyses” category
Writing Project Prompt: Making Arguments about Space
For your final Writing Project for this course, you will make a multimodal argument about the design of a digital space. Just as news publications and visual mediums are developed for particular audiences, digital spaces, such as social media platforms, ecommerce sites, news platforms, and static webpages, make implicit arguments about who is invited into that space and how you are able to participate in it. For example, Twitter highly restricts the length of individual pieces of content created by users, but allows you to follow any public account you like. On the other hand, Facebook has no limitation on post lengths, but encourages you to connect only with individuals you know “in real life.” Both have content moderation policies, require users to register, include advertising, and encourage users to create content through social metrics such as likes and retweets. Therefore, these digital spaces have different purposes, appeal to different individuals, and require individuals to behave in different ways.
Analyzing the spatial argument developed by a digital space requires that you critically examine both the design of the interface, or the front-end version of a website that we view on our Internet browsers, as well as the design of the code, or the back-end architecture of a website that dictates how users can interact with that space. While we won’t be able to access the back-end code of digital spaces, you can develop some understanding through interacting with the digital space, analyzing the Terms of Service and privacy policies, using browser extensions to identify trackers, and drawing on commentary about the digital space from other researchers.
Based on your primary and secondary research, you will either evaluate how well the space functions for its intended users or propose changes to the space that invite new users and, therefore, make a new spatial argument. Evaluations and Proposals are two different types of arguments and require different components:
- Evaluations must establish evaluation criteria and then evaluate the digital space based on how it serves the intended user group
- Proposals must identify and establish a problem and then propose a solution that accommodate users or uses that have been overlooked by the current design
Whether you make an evaluative or a proposal argument, your Multimodal Digital Space Argument should
- develop an analysis of and argument about a digital space,
- use multiple modalities (text, image, audio, video) to develop your argument,
- draw on primary as well as secondary research about the digital space, and
- address a specific audience that needs to be informed about your evaluation or has the ability to implement your proposed change.
Multimodal Digital Space Arguments may take the form of videos, podcasts, or websites as well as infographics and visual essays depending on your intended audience and comfort level. However, your Multimodal Digital Space Argument should not be in the same medium as your Visual Argument Piece and I encourage you to experiment with new mediums and modes. The length, tone, and modalities of your Multimodal Digital Space Argument will be determined by the type of argument you make and your intended audience. Depending on the form and your preference, final versions can be submitted to D2L as .doc, .docx, .pdf, or .jpg files or links and/or posted to the course website.
December 2, 4, or 9 (depending on Whole Class Workshop day)—First draft due to D2L discussion board
December 11 at 11:59 pm—Revised draft due to D2L submission portal and/or posted to WordPress site
December 16—Instructor feedback returned
December 17—Self-evaluation and reflection conducted during finals period
Maker’s Memo Prompt
Your Maker’s Memo will serve as the introduction to your Multimodal Digital Space Argument and should provide a narrative summary of the choices you made throughout the analyzing, composing, and revising process. The goal of the Maker’s Memo is to document and make explicit the work that went into your project. Your Maker’s Memo should address the following:
- What you tried to accomplish in your Multimodal Digital Space Argument
- How you developed an argument, either evaluation or proposal, about your digital space
- How you address a specific audience and why they need to learn about your evaluation or proposal
- What research you conducted in order to analyze your chosen digital space
- How you identified who the intended users of the digital space are
- How you used the browser extensions discussed in class
- If you did not use them, discuss why
- How you found secondary research about the digital space
- How you considered the ways that different groups of users are impacted by the space
- Your methods for composing your Multimodal Digital Space Argument
- How you chose your medium and the ways it connects with your argument and audience
- Discuss the material conditions of your chosen medium and design tool, including your design process and any challenges and/or limitations you encountered
- The choices you made in revision
- Make specific references to places in the text that you revised and describe your choice for making such a revision
- Reference feedback from peer reviewers and myself
- If you chose not to make changes based on feedback, you must indicate why
- What you learned about writing, the design of digital spaces, and making multimodal arguments
- Did you review the assignment prompt and the rubric?
- Does your Maker’s Memo address all of the above?
- Do you analyze a digital space and make an argument?
You have two options for submitting your Multimodal Digital Space Argument
- Submit to the D2L submission portal titled “WP 3: Multimodal Digital Space Argument.” File types might include .docx, .doc, .pdf, .jpeg, .ppx, .key, etc or maybe a .zip file, but do NOT submit a Pages file.
- Post to the course website using the “Multimodal Digital Space Arguments” category. You may either upload the content directly to the “Media Library” to integrate it into the post or embed the file using a “Custom HTML” block. **If you have questions about how to do this, please ask me!!
Either way, make sure to include your Maker’s Memo. If you are posting to the website, you can include it before you Multimodal Digital Space Argument or submit it separately as a .docx or .doc file to the D2L submission portal.