Workshop Recap: Visualizing Rhetoric with Emojis and GIFs

Mac Scott

Events, Multimodal Writing

This image is of the "nerd emoji." The emoji has a cartoon, circular barely semi-humanoid face. It's entire head is circular. It's wearing glasses, and it's mouth and eyes are agape in wonder and earnestness.

In the DWRL’s most recent workshop, staff members looked at two of the most apparent–but perhaps most easily dismissed–exemplifications of visual rhetoric: emojis and GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format). Although we’ve all no doubt interacted with both emojis and GIFs before–whether you see them as a mildly amusing (or annoying) novelty or an essential part of how you communicate with others–we wanted to do more than glance at these visual vehicles of expression, and instead explore their affordances and limitations. Splitting

Remixing the News

Mac Scott


This image reads "citation needed." The phrase is in brackets, the font is blue, italicized, and underlined. It resembles Wikipedia's interface.

In the last couple weeks, we’ve heard a lot about fake news, and “post-truth” was recently named by Oxford Dictionaries as its word of the year. One of the things this has had me thinking about is not only how news stories proliferate online, but how information transforms as it circulates. In particular, I’m interested in how information from one text is translated or “recomposed” into another–whether it’s commenting on an article shared on Facebook, summarizing an argument via a

Lesson Plan: Peer Recordings, or Revising Peer Review

Mac Scott

Lesson Plans, Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

An important component in the composition process is peer reviews. In fact, it’s a requirement for RHE 306 courses. But when instructors assign digital writing assignments–particularly those like infographics that have a visual component beyond alphanumeric text–a question emerges as to how students can best provide helpful feedback. In “Can You Hear Us Now,” Julie Reynolds and Vicki Russell argue that audio-recorded feedback on student writing encourages them as instructors to “focus less on lower-order writing concerns (such as spelling,

Affectively Interactive

Mac Scott

Data, Data Visualisation Week, Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

A photo of a silver keyboard with the image of a red treble clef on top of it.

One of my favorite data visualizations concerns the Beatles. Created by Adam McCann from Dueling Data, the graphic, amongst other things, lets the user hover their computer cursor over illustrations of band members to see how many hit songs those members have written and when. I find the visualization memorable, no doubt, because I find the content interesting (e.g., the Lennon/McCartney duo falls off toward the end), but the graphic seems to resonate beyond that. This partly has to do

Lesson Plan: Visual Literacy and Infographic (Re)Composition

Mac Scott

Data, Data Visualisation Week, Lesson Plans, Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

In Multiliteracies for a Digital Age, Stuart Selber discusses the importance of pedagogy that cultivates, what he refers to as, multiliteracies, where students strive to be “users of technology . . . questioners of technology . . . producers of technology” (25). This idea of multiliteracies pushes beyond a focus on teaching students the technical functions of technology (though that still has a place) to emphasize that students also need to hone their rhetorical and critical capacities. Working with visual

Workshopping Our Web Presence

Mac Scott

Events, Tools

A DWRL staff member wearing a Chicago Cubs t-shirt sits at a computer in a media lab. A DWRL Assistant Director stands beside him, leaning forward with his hands on the table. They're both smiling and looking at the computer screen, which is facing away from the camera.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve already heard about the importance of managing your web presence. Often, the issue is presented as a warning about the damage “inappropriate” photos or posts on social media can do as you seek to enter (or remain in) a profession. In this sense, managing your web presence is approached as a negative. That is, it’s framed as the absence or the removal of information that could hurt your professional ethos. At the

Learning to Learn, Digitally

Mac Scott

Multimodal Writing, Pedagogy

The image shows the intimidating, green, and translucent head of a man hovering in the air above some sort of altar in what could be a throne room. The man is shouting, and he has an enlarged cranium. Below the floating head is dense smoke. Partially encased by the smoke is a metalic scultupre with fire coming out of its sides toward the camera. At both the left and the right edges of the altar, fire erupts out of short but thick columns. The floor is black, but shiny and reflective. The back of the altar (behind the semi-transparent head) are tall narrow columns that resemble a massive church organ.

A couple years ago, I enrolled in my first digital rhetorics course. I was excited, but also insecure, certain that I was out of my league compared to my classmates, all of whom I assumed were naturals when it came to all things digital. Even though I knew this way of thinking didn’t make sense, I constructed a digital literacy binary of sorts: either you’re naturally techy, or not. A wizard born with magical powers, or not. In a sense, this