Who's My Audience?

This week in ENGL 888D:

I found Lukens and DiSalvo’s definition of technological fluency incredibly appealing.

Fluency, in contrast to literacy, affords creativity. If I am literate in a language, I can read, write, and speak it, but if I am fluent in a language I can write poetry or a novel or use the language in ways the literate cannot. Technological fluency is the ability to be creative with technology;...
What drew me in most was how Lukens and DiSalvo used this definition to advocate for a constructivist pedagogical approach in technological education for the Humanities. To an outsider like myself, it seems that frequently university level Humanities instructors only want to educate about their content and expect students to learn the technology and methodology outside of their classroom (either in another discipline or at the previous education level). Utilizing speculative design in coursework moves away from this mentality.

Likewise I appreciate that speculative design encourages participants to think critically about technology. Our understanding of digital has just begun to expand beyond a textual replacement. Much of the internet’s content is still just replicated print rather than the interactive, linked web that it could be. The constructivist approach to developing technological fluency and critically thinking about the digital medium helped me really enjoy the first half of the article “Speculative design and technological fluency”.

I struggled with the lack of practicality which is part of speculative design's foundation. I believe that there needs to be an avant-garde pushing boundaries of what we think is possible. I believe that students should be exposed to the critical thinking skills, technology education, and methodological approaches that will allow them to be the avant-garde of the future. However, I think DH needs a greater dosage of “the third space” than speculative design.

DH doesn’t seem to be thinking in terms of “who’s my audience*?” Given that DH’s end product is typically published on the World Wide Web more DH projects should be designed with audience in mind. Muller’s participatory design in the third space feels like the perfect answer to the question of designing DH with the audience in mind. Additionally, participatory design provides a toolkit of HCI, social science, and humanities methods which feels appropriate to DH.

Questioning DH’s audience made me wonder “Will/would DH have greater acceptance in the academy if it were more speculative or if it were for the public?” If we (Engl888d) could answer that question, should it guide this class’s white paper?

*I chose audience over user because audience feels more appropriate when discussing digital humanities users.

Works Cited

Lukens, J. and DiSalvo, C. (2012). Speculative design and technology fluency. International Journal of Learning and Media, 3(4), 23-40.

Muller, M.J. (2007). Participatory design: The third space in HCI. In J. Jacko and A. Sears (eds.), Handbook of HCI. Mahway NJ USA: Erlbaum.

Have a great day and keep smiling!