“Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments

Because technology is evolving at such a fast pace and quickly becoming accepted as a formal writing space, training on writing for digital spaces is becoming a necessity. In her writing “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments: Mary Hocks explains the importance of teaching visual rhetoric to students, which is explained in three categories: transparency, audience stance, and hybridity.

Hybridity is explained as incorporating different forms of media into online writing to make reading the work more pleasurable and riveting. The combination of text and media can include visuals, videos, graphs, embedded web pages, interactive modules and even sounds. Including media compels readers to completely delve themselves into the reading which makes it easier to see the meaning and understand the author, not to mention also keeping the reader engaged.

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Social Media site Tumblr.com allows for users to post multi-modally.

Transparency is defined as “the ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film and Web pages” (632). She backs her support of transparency because it makes the reader feel more connected when the work calls upon other sources stating the same thing. When others are saying the same as you and you cite them it makes your work visibly more credible.

Audience Stance is described by Hocks as the level of interactions received from the audience, what emotions the work brings about, and if it possibly discourages them from reacting certain ways. Each work created, if done properly can subtly bring about feelings in readers or construct mindsets. Hock uses evidence from other studies which prove that the interface and multi-modality of a work can compel readers to challenge themselves.

The study of audience stance also looks at how to keep different people engaged no matter the background. Hock gives us a look inside a study done where a group of students were asked to create a website answering a question. The students made the site intricately which allowed for students and adults alike were completely intrigued and engaged. They did this by including an interactive forum to engage students, and Shakespearean sources to engage the adult readers.

Including media in the digital writings enhanced students’ enhanced the students’ thinking because they had to carefully map out how things would flow in the work and present the visual information in a way that would engage the audience. Creating multimodal works also is beneficial to students because it is challenging yet it “leads students to a new understanding of how designed spaces and artifacts impact audiences”.

Mary Hock’s call for students to be taught how to incorporate various forms of media  into their digital works as it benefits the engagement levels of the reader.

Hocks, Mary E. “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments.” College Composition and Communication 2003: 629. JSTOR Journals. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

“Better Online Living Through Content Moderation”

Content control options available on social media titan Twitter.com

In the article “Better Online Living through Content Moderation” Melissa King shows readers content control tools that are available to protect from online abuse and explains why they are necessary in the digital age. King also addresses opposers of content control tools by stating that “nobody should be required to read or listen to content if they do not want to” (1). She backs this stating that sites that do not offer content control make for bad environments which could have psychological and sociological backlashes.

Some of the content control tools that are widely available on most sites include content warnings, privacy options, blocking restrictions, mutes and reporting. Melissa King argues that these content control features are beneficial to the general public because they allow users to protect themselves from crude or triggering topics as online aggressors can possibly invoke anxiety attacks or spark Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. King calls for television to become the next media outlet to present content control options. Television’s massive commercial and advertisements industry puts many viewers to new levels of uncontrolled exposures. After experiencing subliminal messages users may suffer from spending frenzies, breakdowns and anxiety attacks.

Cable companies only offer basic content control such as rating locks, which allow parents to lock shows with certain age ratings to prevent children from exposure to adult material at such young ages. Because these parental locks do not offer controls to the subliminal anxiety sparks, therapy is provided to help consumers cope. Just as television is television offers low amounts of content control, the internet also has become a marketing guru as advertisements heavily douse the digital world. Ad blockers and pop-up blockers offer good controls to the many advertisements but some sites have begun not allowing users access to their sites without dialing any adblockers.

Alongside her arguments for content control, the author shows viewpoints of why content control isn’t beneficial and refutes them with adequate reasoning. One reason people believe content control is not beneficial is because people  mostly interpret the “abuse and harassment” they receive at another level than what it is really meant to be. Sometimes the supposed abuse and harassment isn’t even online bullying but just merely debates. Those who discredit content control also call upon Exposure Theory which proposes that the more you’re gradually exposed to something that builds severe anxiety the less it will be a trigger to you. Melissa King fires back with the fact that online harassment is at random and the lack of controlled exposure by trained professionals the trauma caused will most likely increase and be more significant.


“Better Online Living through Content Moderation by Melissa King | Model View Culture.” N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

“His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society”

“His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society” by Suzanne Tick is a progressive article that calls for developers to understand that we in a time where masculinity and femininity is built into our environments but these constructs need to be recreated into an accepting society where choice of gender does not matter. Tick describes that the places we work are created by men and is founded on male perspective. This male perspective is with the male being the head of the office and females in the workplace serve as the secretaries, which is an outdated and sexist perspective. For society to come to a completely equal playing field for both genders the author states that men have to join the gender equality movement. Because the LGBT movement has been so successful we also need to propel the gender equality movement alongside it. While this transition and acceptance movement is going on the issue of restrooms becoming safe spaces for all is brought up. Transgender and gender fluid individuals sometimes feel as if they are forgotten about when it is time to use the restroom. Facilities that do not offer gender neutral bathrooms force these individuals to chose a gender. At this point this leaves them sometimes feeling as if they cannot use the restroom in either and proceed to wait until they have another option. The author states that while developers are working on incorporating more sustainable options, “The time is ripe for designers to start questioning how they incorporate gender sensitivity into their work” (Tick, 2). Gender neutral restrooms allow for a harmonious environment and a safe experience for everyone. Tick also explains that the American Disability Act being incorporated into facilities everywhere was filled with discourse and we cannot approach gender accommodation the same way the Disability Act treated bathrooms and entryways. Suzanne Tick closes out the article with a powerful statement that inspires developers to understand that there are thousands of individuals who need to be accommodated for to allow for everyone to be themselves at all times.


Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society.” Metropolis. Metropolis Magazine, 2015. Web. 02 Mar. 2016. <http://www.metropolismag.com/March-2015/His-or-Hers-Designing-for-a-Post-Gender-Society/>.

“Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”

In the article “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces” by Kathleen G. School and Gowri B. Gulwadi, the authors make a case calling for campuses to incorporate green spaces in their landscapes to help recharge students’ ability to pay attention. Because college asks for students to devote many hours a day of concentration and devotion students begin to lose the ability to seriously focus. With the inclusion of technology and smartphones in this generation, it also reduces the focus levels the students have. Historically, colleges and universities were stationed in predominately rural areas where they were surrounded by natural landscapes and green spaces.

This picture portrays Marist College in 1960, surrounded by nature and in a rural area which Scholl and Guwaldi claim claim helps regenerate student’s direct attention. Lane, John. Bird’s-Eye view of Marist College Campus. Early 1960’s. Photograph. Marist College Archives, New York.

With the introduction of federal grants and the rapid increase of student enrollment after World War II, open spaces were used to house new buildings which reduced the natural landscapes. In the article, Scholl and Gulwadi use a quote from Frederick Law Olmstead stating that “natural scenery employs the mind… and gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigorates the whole system” (Bratman, Hamilton, & Daily, p. 124). This backs up their statement that natural scenery helps students recharge their ability to pay attention and focus more on challenging subjects. The authors also bring up the concept of ART which stands for Attention Restoration Theory which states that “interaction with nature has specific recovery effects on the human attentional system” (Scholl & Gulwadi, 54), which serves as more proof of their main ideas. After prolonged focusing and mental attention being used, the authors state that students will struggle with demands of school and start to see a decline in success on assignments, and social changes which would make them more likely to be hostile and less friendly. Also presented in the article is the idea that a student’s over college experience is possibly affected by the ability to recharge their attention span through surrounding nature. The question of “what is considered nature?” is then proposed and the authors include a diagram of the different sources and forms of nature. In conclusion, Scholl and Gulwadi wrap up the piece by recalling that openand natural spaces are vital to providing regeneration of attention spans of students and providing a great college learning environment.


“Tapestry of Space”

Spectacle is a word used to observe and interpret on how society uses certain images to help people understand or develop relationships. In the social world today, spectacle is a gateway that allows people to use the media to feel a connection within themselves (4). In a world where material production is key, it is hard for one to see the truth behind how the media depicts certain area of atmosphere. For example, the photographs taken by Margaret Morton of the homeless under the bridge portrayed such a strong message, due to the true implication behind it (5).

Dérive is a psychogeography term that takes one on an impulsive trip through a type of media or scenery. Morton uses her photography to show the effects of the city streets and tunnels on the homeless. Observing the picture shows how difficult it must be to try and live in this type of environment, and really confronts the readers mind to think about the other aspects on what it must be like to call your home to be under a tunnel. It provokes readers thought processes to consider the opposite point of view, as opposed of what they are actually used to (7).


It is obvious that the tunnel is shown in a very negative way to society, because even the city neglects the idea of the tunnel in general. A city is very dependent on consumers’ money, to keep the standards of the good city life. On brochures, maps, or even suggestions on tourist spots, this location is avoided in every humane way possible. It is almost like the city is embarrassed, or even ashamed to show this side of reality to potential new habitants. The tunnel is a metaphor on how dark and cold the world may be, and how the inhabitants living in that space can be perceived to be these terrible humans because society is too afraid to help or understand their stories (13).

Besides from the photos, the term “homeless” is a word that everyone wants to avoid. From an average persons’ perspective, being homeless is something that you look down upon, because the media has implanted a certain image to this particular word. As said in her epilogue, “Most of the entrances have been padlocked or welded shut by Amtrak police” (23). This comes to show that people want to shut these people out from the world simply because they have a stereotype of being violent, or demonstrate criminal-like behavior (24).

Not all of Morton’s intentions were to demonstrate feelings of sorrow or remorsefulness; these pictures allow the reader to be invited into the lives of those who truly call this tunnel their home. It broadens the mind of the reader, and goes to show that there are so many of those who are less fortunate than you (31). There are so many different examples of individuality in this world, and Morton does an excellent job of reminding us that you do not have to be in the norm to be a human being. These photographs also remind us that space, or a surrounding is not something that you should take for granted (39).

“Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment”

In the text “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment”, by Sarah Schindler, many topics which pertain to structured separation of cultures, and groups of people may be put into place be it intentional or unintentional motives. Some of the many structures being put in place to separate ranged from highways to legislation and zoning practices. The reason these institutions are problematic for society is because it keeps the underprivileged from attaining the chance to move up and better themselves. At many times these divides are not seen to be disturbances in the community by legislators and lawmakers or they are just overlooked. Schindler makes note of how these divides are usually racially motivated. Many times it is explained that the structures tend to attempt to keep lower classes out or away from the area which usually reflects a certain race of people. This can be exampled in Atlanta with Cobb County’s creation of Cobb County Transit. Anytime talks of MARTA being expanded to reach Cobb, they are received with much disdain from citizens of Cobb and local political leaders. CCT extensively limits the amount of travel that is possible within its borders when compared to easy access to most of the city in Atlanta through the use of MARTA. Often times advocates of MARTA’s expansion say that the ban is just to prevent people of lower incomes from entering. This is backed by the fact that the lack of sidewalks in Cobb makes it virtually impossible for anyone to work without owning a car. This also creates a separation of people in other areas of the state from accessing job opportunities in the secluded county. One portion of the article states that

“public transportation continues to be routed in a way that makes it difficult for some blacks to get to and from leisure venues that more affluent or more mobile persons freely enjoy”

This can be exampled with the construction of the new braves stadium in Cobb County. The city of Atlanta and MARTA have announced no plans to extend the rail lines to the new stadium as Turner field was easily accessible through it. While this might change the people who attend the sporting events it also will affect the demographics of the potential employees and their location. Previous Turner Field employees who depended on MARTA for transportation to their job will now have to seek alternative jobs. In the area law makers and new developers in the area may team up and use zoning ordinances to change the local area of Turner field and gentrification will occur.

The lack of MARTA in Cobb County is also mirrored in north atlanta. MARTA only runs to Lenox Mall in north atlanta because the citizens in the area expressed that expanding it to their areas would increase the amount of crime in their suburban areas. They also feared for citizens in other areas of the city having accessibility to their employment opportunities.

All of these barriers and institutions including zoning, expansion of public transportation and creation of highways are ways that citizens and legislators alike may prevent certain people from accessing an area and potentially moving up in society.