Dobrin, Sidney I. “Ecology and Concepts of Technology.” WPA 35.1 (Fall/Winter 2011): 175-198
This is a review of four recently published books:
Baron, Dennis. A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Blair, Kristine, Radhika Gajjalaand, and Christine Tulley. Webbing Cyberfeminist Practice: Communities, Pedagogies, and Social Action. Cresskill: Hampton Press, 2008. Print.
DeVoss, Dànielle Nicole, Heidi A.McKee, and Richard (Dickie) Selfe, eds. Technological Ecologies and Sustainability. Computers and Composition Digital Press. 2009. http://ccdigitalpress.org/tes/
Selber, Stuart, ed. Rhetorics and Technologies: New Directions in Writing and Communication. Colubmia: U of South Carolina P, 2010. Print.
In his WPA book review, Dobrin argues that the conversations in the field about writing (especially digital) technologies need to move past the idea of “writing technology as tool or apparatus” that can either improve or inhibit writing or writing instruction. Instead, Dobrin points to these four recently published books and collections to argue for technology as a concept and a way to do and think about writing, as inseparable from a larger local and global ecology. He emphasizes at several points in his book review that writing has always been and will always be inseparable from technology. He challenges scholars, administrators, and teachers to push the bounds of what they mean by ecology by considering (drawn from the books he reviews) the environmental impact of technology and e-waste, the spaces in which people write their lives outside of the classroom, the global human justice issues of writing and technology, and the gender bias in the computing languages and platforms we use to write.
4 threads: ecology, cyberfeminism, rhetoric, history
need to understand the constraints and institutional limitations in the ecologies we write and work in
complex ecologies are fluctuating ones
importance of historical context for understanding how a writing ecology works – the technology doesn’t just appear out of a box
“We have to acknowledge that the instituational limits, the environmental oppressions, and the human oppressions are themselves ecologically bound.” (184)
“The study of writing cannot be separated from the study of technology.” (195)