New Media Design and the Problem of Ease - Tom Lindsley
RPC Research Colloquium | Iowa State University | February 26, 2014

In the last decade, independent web developers and open-source communities have created tools such as front-end development frameworks and plugins to aid fellow web developers in the rapid design and deployment of web applications. While using these tools is in the interest of efficiency, novice developers risk relying too heavily on the prefabricated components built by others, ceding agency and context-based decision making to the developers responsible for the tools. Public discussions among industry professionals have shown growing concern regarding the problems that arise from the non-rhetorical use of popular frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap. This presentation addresses the problem of “extreme usability” (Dilger 2007) in web development practice and considers how ancient and modern rhetorics theorize the concepts of propriety and use in ways that can guide the deployment of development tools. The presentation concludes by discussing the implications that tool-based decision-making has on new media design within the humanities.

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