The importance of rhetoric in our everyday technology-filled lives becomes more and more palpable the further we read on the subject. The further we read on the subject, the more I personally want to understand the mechanisms that seem to govern our everyday lives. “The Algorithms of Our Lives” by Lev Manovich was a particularly compelling piece related to this subject of social media sites and software. His basic argument is one I am concerned with: “If we want to understand today’s techniques of communication, representation, simulation, analysis, decision making, memory, vision, writing, and interaction, we must understand software” (Manovich). All of our popular sites and applications derive from software programs, programs that we do not understand unless we have experience developing it. More importantly, brings up the importance of rhetoric when creating these software programs as the people in power decide the information that they reveal and retain information to and from the user. Manovich furthers this point of secrecy when it comes to algorithms in stating that “many popular software services use machine-leaning technology that often results in ‘black box’ solutions.” Because if these “black box” technologies, we as users are limited in our understanding of how these sites work, placing control in large corporations that create and keep these software algorithms secret.
I find this secrecy quite unsatisfying. The mystery drives me to learn more about the software that permeates throughout our society and culture. Therefore, the “Introduction to ‘The Role of Computational Literacy in Computers and Writing’” by Mark Sample and Annette Vee furthered my interest in understanding software in understanding the coding that comes with it. As a very old fashioned reader and writer (one who prefers reading physical books and takes notes typically with a paper and pencil), the notion of coding as a new (or is it old at this point?) form of writing is a baffling one. I never considered coding to be a form of writing, and think with the growing prevalence of technology, perhaps adding coding to composition classes would benefit current and future students. However, this can prove a challenge nowadays, how do we teach coding to older students who have virtually no coding experience? Of course I speak for myself as one who has no coding experience, and I wonder that if I could learn coding and about software, how would this possibly help me in the future? I wonder that if I could code, could I finally reach into the rhetorically complex company software and break out of this “black box”?