Creativity Corner

March 4, 2009

A Matter of Metaphor

Filed under: Uncategorized — kellyh34 @ 4:16 am

A Matter of Metaphor

            All of the readings that were assigned this week were very interesting and informative. I noticed that the writers of these texts discuss a lot of interesting aspects about technology. The article that I enjoyed reading the most was “A Matter of Metaphor,” by Bonnie A. Nardi and Vicki L. O’Day. This particular article discusses how we can use technology as many different things, such as a tool, a text, and a system; it also discusses how we can use technology as such. Nardi and O’Day raise good points in this article that really made me think. In the section titled “Technology as Text,” Nardi and O’Day state the following:

            “Critical theory has changed the way social scientists look at common-place      objects and experiences. This perspective challenges us to see that a written text –      a book, newspaper article, or other familiar written form – is not something whose          meaning is stable, reliable, and created solely by the author. Every reader has an            active role in constructing the text, to make it meaningfully present in the reader’s       own world.

            A reader’s construction is developed in a cultural setting that may be quite         different from the writer’s. As a result, the reader’s understanding and    appropriation of ideas can be very different from the writer’s. The writer cannot             command the unknown reader to develop one interpretation or another. He can             only make suggestions within the language and structures of the text. He will     succeed to the extent that his suggestions are intelligible and appealing to his             readers” (31).

I fully agree with what the authors of this article are saying in this particular passage. Writers may have certain ideas that they wish to get across to their audience, but that does not necessarily mean that the reader will understand the idea that the writer was trying to suggest. People can take things from the reading that the author did not intend for them to take. For example, I am currently in an English Seminar class that is based on poetry. The class is assigned readings from books of poetry every week and during class time, we discuss the poems that we have read. The professor normally goes around the room and asks us about our thoughts on the poems. Most of the time, students have different interpretations of the poems. Some students may share the same idea about a particular poem, but almost everyone interprets it differently. This is just an example that shows how a reader’s interpretation of something can be very different from the writer’s intentions of a work.

Do you think that it is better for readers to interpret a work on their own and give it more meaning to the actual reader? Or do you think the reader should interpret the work the way the author intends his work to be understood?

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