Template Anxiety: A Question of Metaphors?

Proposal Title: 
Template Anxiety: A Question of Metaphors?
Presenter(s): 
Abstract: 

This video essay explores template anxiety in terms of metaphors, using my own experience as a teacher, writer, and designer, and the experiences of colleagues and students as they make use of the Digital Studio at Florida State University. It seeks to pull out and attempt to organize experiences with templates, in order to begin to answer the questions: What are our metaphors about templates? Are we anxious about template usage? And why? And, should we be?

Proposal: 

What we think about templates in multimodal environments gets to the heart of several thorny issues, including epistemology, creativity, ethics, assessment, and ownership. It could be argued that multimodal composition, especially digital multimodal composition, entails templates. Yet with template usage comes anxiety: anxiety about substituting template usage for technical and design knowhow; anxiety about the bedazzling power of templates; anxiety about student usage of templates (Arola, 2010; Folk, 2013; Yancey, 2004).

We know that our metaphors organize our perceptions (Lakoff, 1980). So Anders Fagerjord (2005) identifies four metaphors of template usage: collaboration, platform, mould, and framing of a house. He proposes that the metaphor we choose shapes our understanding of templates. I agree with him, and I extend his thought to suggest that this list of metaphors is a useful heuristic for understanding attitudes about templates. For instance, if we tend to see templates as collaborations, our anxieties revolve around division of responsibility: how much work did the template author do? How much work did the template user do by comparison? Who, in other words, is the author?

This video essay explores template anxiety in terms of metaphors, using my own experience as a teacher, writer, and designer, and the experiences of colleagues and students as they make use of the Digital Studio at Florida State University. It seeks to pull out and attempt to organize experiences with templates, in order to begin to answer the questions: What are our metaphors about templates? Are we anxious about template usage? And why? And, should we be?

Context: 
The theme of the conference is Technoliteracy In(ter)ventions, and this presentation addresses issues of technoliteracy--templates are often used when learning new software packages--and invention--anxieties about template usage often address issues of invention, such as who is inventing, and how. Our views about templates also suggest interventions; how do we teach them? How do we assess them?
Proposal Type: 
individual