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In recent years, social media websites have become increasingly popular venues for rhetorical exchange as well as social and political engagement. They have also attracted the attention of teachers and researchers interested in writing in digital environments.
The Multimodal Writing research area is founded on the assumption that all writing is already multimodal—even traditional or analog writing. “Multimodal writing,” then, is not simply the practice of remediating text or supplementing it with additional media; rather, the DWRL sees “multimodality” as being at the core of writing itself—a potential site of interaction between analog and digital writing technologies and between human and nonhuman actors.
Locative media is spatial rhetoric’s digital turn—or, thinking spatially, the digital end of the spatial rhetorics spectrum. With the rise of location-aware technologies and media forms, online and geographic worlds have converged: our online worlds move with us through geographic space thanks to web-capable mobile devices, while ever-more fine-grained geographic data becomes an integral part of online texts and networks.
Digital games are always laden with values: they make assumptions about players’ bodies and beliefs as well as race, gender, class, sexuality, and ability. Games invite their players to identify with these assumptions in order to succeed. But players can also resist a game’s procedural rhetorics, sometimes learning more from the resulting friction than from winning. In the Games research area, staff members consider how these frictions may represent useful sites of research and pedagogy for digital rhetoricians.
Archival theories and practices have long been central to scholarship on rhetorical history. With the emergence of technologies in digital archiving, however, and as rhetorical scholars have become involved in the construction of digital archives and exhibits, we increasingly recognize archives themselves as rhetorical entities.
Staffers working in the Devices research area focus on experimenting with discrete artifacts, exploring the affordances of these materials within the lab’s mission. These artifacts range from what are now considered mundane technologies (e.g., keyboards, smartphones, tablets) to 3D printers, microprocessors and microcomputers, virtual reality devices and software, and so on.
Over the last few years, “big data” has become a big deal. From election predictions to controversial surveillance programs, and from forms of data visualization to research in rhetoric and the humanities, digital data is being tracked, gathered, and deployed in unprecedented ways.
Throughout its history, the DWRL has had a persistent commitment to accessibility. Following in the footsteps of former lab director John Slatin, who played a key role in making the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities, DWRL staffers in this research area work with a broad definition of “accessibility” as they investigate and experiment with technologies designed to make digital spaces more open, usable, and accessible.