With more than 800 million active users (more than half of whom logon every day), it is no wonder so many people have written about Facebook. Some have looked at how political candidates use Facebook, other, rhetorically-minded scholars have seen it as a pedagogical aid. Oddly, however, Facebook has not received an adequate analysis as a unique, multimodal, rhetorical space. This is due, in large part, to a lack of analytical tools for such a diverse medium.
In recent years, the search engine Google and social network Facebook have been competing for the top spot as the most popular website. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, there are approximately 800 million active Facebook users, making it the most popular social networking site, followed by MySpace with 33 million.
Social media has been a topic of interest for scholars and professionals for several years. Researchers in many different fields have explored its definition, reach, use, and potential. Considering social media in the corporate sphere, Brian Howlett, Chief Creative Officer at the Toronto advertising and marketing firm Agency59, describes the effect social media has had on his field and his clients’ business: “There has been a fundamental shift in the corporate-consumer relationship, resulting from the steep rise in popularity and use of social media since 2007” (2012). Howlett’s statement suggests that, rather than being an asymmetrical power dynamic where the organization communicates a story to their stakeholders, social media sites have accustomed users to expecting that organizations will communicate with them, and put more emphasis on dialogue.
I’m desperate for tools and strategies to help me get my job done and still live a life. Like many other writing instructors over the past twenty years have done, I’ve tried out scores of promising technology solutions that looked like they might help me do my job more effectively or efficiently, whether that means helping students to apply concepts they’re learning, or freeing up time for me to apply to course planning, attending meetings, and grading stacks of papers.
“Writing in the 21st Century,” by Kathleen Blake Yancey, is one of several recent texts that examine how new media technologies are reconfiguring the practice of composing, the definition of literacy, and the nature of what it means to be a writing teacher. Yancey’s text has proven influential, and is often cited in discussions of “21st century writing.” This paper provides a critical analysis of Yancey’s claims, and of the call to action she advances.