navigation index Chapter 5:  Hot and Cool Technologies in the Age of Convergence

In “Chapter 5,” Penrod describes how convergence occurs as “hot” writing assessment and “cool” networked technologies collide, conflict, and/or combine; furthermore, she discusses the obstacles for networked writing instruction and assessment. To highlight principle arguments from Penrod’s chapter, I have presented them in a Question and Answer (Q&A) format below--a succinct, common rhetorical strategy for emphasizing key points in an online format.

Q: What are “hot” and “cool” technologies?

A:  Drawing upon Marshall McLuhan’s terminology, Penrod explains that writing assessment is a “hot technology” because it is an emotionally loaded, high-stakes “spectacle” (p. 117). However, online writing is a “cool technology” that elicits communicative or “phatic” discourse techniques through online media like blogs, emails, and chats (p. 118). She argues that “hot” and “cool” technologies must be combined in ongoing, collaborative, and developmental writing assessment (pp. 134-36). 

Q: What forces impede the advancement of networked writing assessment models?

A:  Penrod discusses the impact of Brian Winston's “law of suppression of radical potential,” in which social forces hold back new progress in technology.  In particular, she discusses the political obstacles compositionists and writing programs must confront in updating assessment models for writing online (124). In addition, she calls attention to the conflict between the forces of corporatization and democratization in networked composition (12).