"R" and the Relevance of technological change
Technology itself as a commonplace is thus perhaps the most pressing and relevant for our discussion of MOOCs, simply because we recognize the continuity with previous critiques of technological ERAs. The astonishing, but even more confirming, fact is that Critel traced this topic all the way back to the beginnings of our flagship journal College Composition and Communication (CCC) in 1950: The “CCC archive shows that the speculations on how technology can improve participation go back to the inception of the journal in 1950” (161). This finding confirms that we might be destined to repeat ourselves in the present-day rhetoric of participation.
These insights about technology also resonate with a tradition of the earlier materialist and feminist critiques of technology in our field, including Mary Hocks’s early work drawn from her own dissertation. Hocks explains how each technological discovery always cycles back to dominant paradigms in terms of how our theories and our praxis repeatedly attach themselves to fantasies of progress and to hopes of a literal technological enactment for the abstract body; in the early days of hypertext theory, our “technotropes of liberation” attached to liberatory ideals about hypertext itself as embodying poststructuralism and as representing the associative processes of the human mind. In Critel’s dissertation, we again happily find another confirmation and a kindred spirit.