Revolution Lullabye

February 16, 2008

Kemp “The User-Friendly Fallacy”

Kemp, Fred. “The User-Friendly Fallacy.” CCC 38.1 (Feb 1987): 32-39.

Kemp argues for the development and use of open-response computer programs in writing instruction, arguing that the close-response programs in use at the time relegated the computer to remedial and fact-checking uses. He claims that the full potential of the computer in composition instruction can be realized when people challenge the “user-friendly fallacy,” the belief that computers should be able to interact with students’ ideas as a human does, replicating human cognition. Instead, Kemp argues that open-response programs, like Hugh Burnes’ TOPOI computer program, which assists students with invention by asking prompts and questions derived from uses Aristotle’s 28 enthymeme topics, are the most valuable type of program because they do not limit students’ response and guide them into making connections between their ideas.

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