Chameleons of the Craft: Ever Changing Style and Environments, and Jobs

Katie’s post made me think of one of my most favorite texts I’ve read since starting college: Richard Lanham’s Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information (which Amazon just told me I bought September 2015… yikes, but all things considered, Michelle can attest that it definitely affected the way I responded to my classmates in Advanced Comp over the summer), which then, of course, lead to me reading Pigg’s piece and still drawing connections to the importance of stylistic thinking.


Pigg’s article states: “this article begins to trace how social media and digital participatory writing environments are intertwined with the inventive practices of sym-bolic analysts who work outside traditional organizational structures.” Which to me highly connects to the ideas I’ve grappled with from when Lanham states “Add all these differences up and we get a complex and detailed reenactment of the oscillation between the flat and fixed expressive field of printed text and the fluid animated world of three-dimensional human behavior. This oscillation becomes a fundamental one: the difference between an oral and a literate culture” (109). And when he later follows it up with discussion of oral cultures being interactive and easily lost. What I’ve continuously thought about is how the incorporation of the “symbolic” and the “interactive”/”participatory” into our written, linguistic, “literate” communication of ideas fits into the way we communicate ideas and (more recently because of conversations with some of my coworkers) how it contributes to the ethics of what we’re writing. This is unless the symbolic idea Pigg is trying to discuss is based in letters are a place for symbolic words on screen/page….. cuz if that’s it I’m not in the mood to buy it right now.

This, again, all contributes to the ways in which we get our information and how we decide what to consume. Katie spoke specifically to click-bait and the way we consume that kind of information. Which (in the case of click-bait) is strictly chosen based on placement and choosing to present information in a specific way (which the presentation of information because of the abundance of information and the lack of time for consistent attention is exactly what’s in Lanham’s book).

Pigg’s article then goes into questioning the ways in which these kinds of issues affect professional writing. So I guess we”re being forced back into the actually relevant topic of this class and not off in the happy theoretical land of thinking about everything I’ve learned thus far in college.

Luckily for me, Pigg continues to talk about the way the physical body and the way it’s interacting with its environments is a part of how culture influences the way we write. So I will take a moment to appreciate that watching a person write in a coffee shop and say that it contributes to their writing is the same as me sitting on my couch cross-legged writing this blog post right now.


All in all… I think Pigg is trying to tell us that we need to calm down and be adaptive. Like, everything is always going to be changing, so we can’t keep doing it the same way. Whether that’s where we are writing physically, or how we are writing on different platforms. We’re going to have to get used to changing, because otherwise we’re pretty screwed and won’t be able to keep being writers. But maybe that’s wrong and I should’ve read closer.


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