Article Review: “When Writing Becomes Content”


Lisa Dush wrote an article called When Writing Becomes Content where she reviews the differences and connections between writing and content. Dush argues that writing becomes content itself and defines content as well. She also argues that there are four characteristics of content: conditional, computable, networked, and commodified. Dush discusses why it is important we are teaching this in schools and how it impacts us in the long run. In the end however, Dush is conflicted and skeptical on whether it is a good thing or bad thing.

Positive Aspects

I believe Lisa Dush’s article is well written and well put together to form a cohesive article. One thing that I found that was smart and well done was the fact that she had block quotes off to the side in bold. She would take what she found to be an important quote or fact in her article and pull it out to the side of the page. She would have it to be bold and a larger text so it is very noticeable. This is an example of her performing content within writing; it stands out and takes on an almost digital feel to the article. Personally I like when books do things like this, so, I enjoyed this aspect of her article. Another thing I enjoyed about her article was the images and charts embedded in the article. I am a visual person, and while yes, reading is visual, images allow me to better understand what the author is trying to convey. Which leads me to wonder is this an example of writing becoming content? Are we a generation where we want snapshots of what we are reading and the highlights, and summaries? Just something to think about.

Inconsistence & Respones to Arguments

While most of the articles is a fairly easy read some of the parts where a little more difficult, especially toward the beginning, but once understood, her train of thought was easy to follow. There were two things I was not sure I agreed with. One she says the following: “The piece will likely lose its original formatting when it is displayed on a mobile device or within a content aggregation interface. No matter how well a post is crafted as writing, it is unlikely to meet its rhetorical aims if it is not also prepared as computable content.” (Dush 177) I understand what she is arguing however on websites like WordPress (which she does mention) you can change your website to look a certain way on various devices. For example, on WordPress you change your mode your viewing to see what it looks like on a laptop, mobile device, or tablet and adjust each one individually. This may not be the case for every site but I think for the most part you can keep the rhetorical integrity you are looking for.

The second thing I am unsure on goes along with this one; Dush argues that: “Johnson-Eilola describes how “breakdown and incessant movement and recombination” create many of what he calls “marketable chunks” (209)—for example, chapters extracted from a book for republication in a “permissions-paid” coursepack, or individual songs sold in isolation from the albums on which they originally appeared.”(178) Dush believes when take an excerpt from a piece or a song off an album it looses its integrity and breaks it down. However, I disagree with this. First of all she did exactly what she saying in that very paragraph; she took an excerpt from someone else to strengthen her point. Most all writers do this, when writing a piece you pull from another writer to argue your point and strengthen your ethos. Also the argument with song I do not agree with either. If anything songs sold apart from the album most likely help the album. When you buy one song off iTunes from an album and like it you would be more likely to buy the entire album as well. I believe the part strengthens the whole.

One thing I did agree on was her argument that: “Writers can’t be experts at everything related to content:..Writers cannot be expected to know enough about content standards and content modeling, reuse models, content for metadata, microformats, writing for syndication, writing for search engines, and componentization for content management systems to make informed decisions about how to pull all of the pieces together” (184), as well as: “in what courses do we already or might we address writing as content, either from the perspective of the content metaphor outlined in Figure 2 or from the practices described by the content professions?” (188) This is why workflows are critical to jobs, projects, and even some classes. First of all I am in a couple of classes where this is put into play. Both classes use the idea of putting content and teaching this way into effect and one class uses workflow as well. In my class with workflows the class would not operate without the workflow. We are working on the Atlanta Student Movement where we are creating podcast, videos, content creation, social media, and etc, but I can not do videos and podcast; however, I can do social media. We have to bring these together into the classrooms to prepare students for the real world and prepare them for jobs that ask them to perform these exact things.

Dush, Lisa. “When Writing Becomes Content.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 67, no. 2, Dec. 2015, pp. 173-196.

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