Ball, Cheryl E. “Show, Not Tell: The Value of New Media Scholarship.” Computers and Composition 21 4 (2004): 403-25. Print.

Abstract: In this article, I consider the changing nature of publications in relation to technology and tenure, presenting a taxonomy of scholarly publications: online scholarship, scholarship about new media, and new media scholarship. I offer a focused definition of new media texts as ones that juxtapose semiotic modes in new and aesthetically pleasing ways and, in doing so, break away from print traditions so that written text is not the primary rhetorical means. By applying this definition to scholarly online publications, readers can be better prepared to recognize and interpret the meaning-making potential of aesthetic modes used in new media scholarly texts. I conclude by offering an analysis of a scholarly new media text, “Digital Multiliteracies.”

  • Ball begins by noting that the progressive closure of hard copy print publication venues has provided the opportunity for many departmental tenure and promotion committees to consider online publication as a legitimate venue for new publications opportunities; however, despite these forums gaining legitimacy, Ball notes that many folks publishing in online environments have yet to take advantage of the opportunities provided by New Media scholarship.
  • Ball makes a useful distinction between scholarship about new media (written texts about new media) and new media scholarship (uses modes of New Media other than print to represent the scholarship).  To demonstrate what New Media scholarship looks like B. considers Miles’ “Digital Multiliteracies” as a representative text that makes meaning through New media in a way appropriate for counting as “scholarship.”
  • Why didn’t Ball use New Media to represent this scholarship calling for the legitimacy of New Media?  She wanted to make this argument in a linear fashion using print so that Humanities scholars would actually read it (404).
  • What are the modes of new media?  “Modes, here and throughout, refer not to the traditional modes of writing but, rather, the semiotic elements such as video, graphics, written text, audio, and so on that a designer uses to compose multimodal texts” (405).
  • What is B.’s intention in this article?  “not to outline how the forms of rhetorical argument can be applied neatly to new media texts (as I don’t believe they easily can), but to help readers understand the possibilities of interpreting new media scholarship so that when they approach a new media texts, they can make meaning from it” (405).
  • B. calls new media “texts that juxtapose semiotic modes in new and aesthetically pleasing ways, and, in doing so, break away from print traditions so that written text is not the primary rhetorical means” (405).
  • B. notes that what people often call ‘new media’ is actually just online scholarship – scholarship developed for print and in line with the standards of print but existing in an online form (usually as .pdfs).
  • B. asks how readers of new media scholarship approach and interpret work as “scholarly” when the genres of new media are often, by definition, non-traditional.  If readers are looking for “focused meaning” how do they find it?  B. works through Bolter & Grusin’s conception of “remediation” as well as the multiliteracy perspectives of The New London group & Kress/van Leeuwen to describe how meaning is made in a multimodal environment.  She makes this move in order to argue that “what counts as knowledge” in the disciplines is actually subject to change (and change to new media modalities!).  Further, B. also recommends that a strategic combination of appreciation for how aesthetic elements operate as meaning-making strategies will help readers more successfully interpret new media texts (412).  She calls this aesthetic appreciation “bringing the art consciousness to daily life.”
  • B. notes that the argument is new media texts often isn’t foregrounded but must actually be “discovered” through participation in the new media artifact itself (412-3).

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