My interest in digital writing first began when I was an undergraduate, convinced that I would finish my degree work and find a job as an editor at a publishing company. As a way of getting some professional writing experience and earning a little extra money, I took an internship at a local company that managed the publication of several trade magazines. I was the Web Content Intern, so my primary responsibility was moving content from the programs that formatted it for print publication in the various magazines to the CMS that would publish that content online. As I worked, I became invested in understanding how the writing changed in each industry as I moved it from platform to platform. I had noticed early on that the content, and even the authorial voices of individual editors, shifted markedly between industries—the home and garden writing sounded nothing like the aerospace engineering writing, even when it was produced by the same team. I was less prepared, however, for the way that moving the exact content shown in the print magazine onto the web platform changed the reading experience. At the time, I was looking for an original research project to complete for my undergraduate thesis, and that idea of writing changing in response to technology was very appealing.
That particular research project ended up focusing on technology and writing pedagogy, but the broader question of how technologies shape communication in industries stayed with me, propelling my interest in going to graduate school and eventually shaping my career plans and research agenda. Through exposure to existing scholarship, my definitions broadened to include different kinds of communities, not just industries, and I started to reflect on the interactions between rhetorics, social systems, and the technologies that these shape and are shaped by. This interest has manifested in research projects that explore topics like modern myth and folklore, rhetorics of online weight loss communities, and most recently the memetic proliferation of Fake News. My dissertation project takes up these topics by outlining the tenets and application of Memetic Rhetorical Theory and then using this framework to analyze how community rhetorics work to create new definitions of credibility that change how we distinguish between fact and fiction in digital spaces.
For the past three years I’ve enjoyed adapting my research interests to inform the writing classes that I teach. Working with students in scientific and professional writing classes has provided opportunities to engage students in productive conversations regarding the communities that make up those disciplines and the processes by which students can enter those communities.
It is the collaborative, community building work of the DRC that I am most interested in. I hope that by participating in social media coordination, conference review processes, and webtext creation during my time with the DRC I can contribute to the collaborative growth of the digital rhetoric/ computers and writing community. I look forward to working with you all in the coming months. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @carleighjoan.