Christina Haas’ Writing Technologies text appeared the come into its own in chapters 4 and 5. Haas, having explained the theory, mindset and ideology of writing studies in her previous chapters allows her to move into a greater deal of empirical analysis. Specifically, chapter 4 deals with effects technologies may have had on a writer’s process, while chapter 5 focused more upon the notion of materiality as represented through the notion of text sense- the literal and figurative feeling that the text conveys towards its writer as it is being written.
A large criticism leveled against Haas is the element of time. The validity of her research aside, because she analyzed the nature of writing and digital technology in 1996, her studies are outdated as there have been numerous developments to technology itself, the teaching and societal incorporation of both writing and technology, and in writers themselves as well over the course of 18 years. Because she could have no way of predicting the massive changes to her field of study, her work is missing element of relevance.
This criticism is fairly disingenuous as it has a certain implication that any source that could be considered “old” isn’t necessarily useful, which is often not the case. A perfect analogy would be a comparison of Haas’ piece to a historical text written in the 1950’s. Interpretations of events would change around the late 40’s and 50’s because they were “current”, and their implications would not have been understood by scholars who were writing at the time. However, their sources still have a certain usefulness because they can illustrate to a reader what was understood at the time, which can then be used by said reader in their timeframe to better understand what has changed. This is why Haas still holds relevance.
Furthermore, her data analysis in itself still seems like it could be useful. In general, Haas managed use statistical analysis to conclude that writing on via a word-processing unit had relevant differences to writing on paper- a sentiment that is still echoed today.
As towards Haas experiments and analyses themselves, they seemed valid, even though there is a very real difficulty in quantifying something as qualitative as writing practices in such a way that statistical tests of significance can be used to provide credence to an alternative hypothesis, which in the specific case of Haas writing process experiment, was the idea that were was a significant difference between processes of digital writing and tactile writing.
As such, I feel that expanded upon ideas presented by Haas- the ideas of materiality and how it can be conveyed differently depending on the medium, in the modern day would be a good launching point for personal investigation into writing practices. One big idea is that with the ascendancy of digital technology and its incorporation into both culture and writing environments, the changes and differences Haas may have observed could have dulled; digital media is commonplace, and as such, human society may have adapted.
Specifics of how this study could be conducted would have to depend upon a number of factors, the primary of which can be represented as the following question: “How does one quantify ‘difference’? Such a research question is wide and far too expansive for one individual, and as such, I would need to hone in on a specific difference.
In response to this necessity for specificity, I’d argue that one of the more open fields that’d like a bit of development consists of the idea of memorization. There have been numerous cursory studies illustrating the idea that tactile writing is better for memory as compared to writing via digital means. While this idea still proves to be a bit too massive, the exact details of an experiment can be refined and redefined in due time.