CAC Connections: Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism

CAC Connections introduces in its first e-dition with a hypertext that addresses the ways the Internet and hypermedia are changing our conceptions of "writing" in "writing across the curriculum." In Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism in 'Computers and Writing' at the Fin de Siècle, Dene Grigar and John Barber expand our understanding of computer-mediated communication throughout the curriculum. Connections are the key for their concept in their collaborative triple hypertext, which records and reflects on and intertwines – sequentially, interactively, and randomly – the two Town Hall meetings and conversations at the 1999 Computers and Writing Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota. In their introduction, they explain their goal:

Why three choices, you may wonder? The answer is multivalent and multivocal: To reflect the past, present, and future times; to make connections between these time periods in relation to the three philosophies – that is, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism – driving our presenters' comments about the field of Computers and Writing; and to provide multiple, diverse, and complex retellings of the same event--that is, the Computers and Writing 1999 Town Hall Meetings – within these temporal and philosophical contexts.

Among the messages at the town halls was a call to recognize the ways that the field of computers and writing already is reaching out to and connecting with other disciplines. Illustrating and expanding these connections are the three webtexts in Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism, which reflect the variety of representations of literacy in our computer culture:

In her moderator's comments on Town Hall 1, Grigar identifies three issues in the positions of the panelists: "loss of ideological innocence, ways to expand our identities, and time to dream and imagine." Collectively, she says, these issues represent "both fear and hope in the face of the many changes taking place in our universities and communities and exemplify a kind of self-reflection--an activity necessary, perhaps, to our growth and progress as scholars and as a field." And in his moderator's comments on Town Hall 2, Barber ends his summation with a striking quotation from a panelist: "Stop whining and take over the university." Readers will recognize here loss of innocence, growing awareness, expansion of identities, and maybe even some dreaming and imagining. More than a recapitulation of the Town Halls, then, Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism asks us to reimagine who "we" in computers and writing "are" and "who" we are "becoming."

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Publication Information: Reiss, Donna. (2000). CAC Connections: Idealism, Pragmatism, and Skepticism. Academic.Writing.
Publication Date: March 26, 2000

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