Reading Response: Monday, January 28, 2019

Within Kristin Arola’s “The Design of Web 2.0: The Rise of the Template, The Fall of Design,” there are various points presented relating towards her relationship with web design and the use of the design as a way of connecting teachers, students, and viewers within story telling.

Arola touches on various points, but highlights an emphasis on the relationships we have with technology, or lack thereof. In the initial page she discusses the complexity of students relationship with technology, as it serves as a guiding force within many of their daily functions, yet there seems to a be a lack of understanding between the two. Specifically there are discrepancies behind the more technical processes that make technology possible, for example coding, which she describes with the analogy of one being able to drive a car but unable to fix it. Through a lack of connection between users and the internet, sites are created to utilize these missed connections by making the site easily accessible, for example for one’s ability to be able to “post” with ease; posts are seamlessly created through websites like Facebook and Myspace, as she mentioned. Through the processes of posting becoming more accessible, the “web authoring” has been replaced as well as the knowledge that is needed to web develop. All of which show that the relationship between users and the internet has shifted to become one that is less in depth in terms of technological design, but instead oriented around presentation and aesthetic.

The focus of the web has become fascinated and oriented around content, as Arola describes as “the only thing most users have control over,” which is encompassed in the use of words, photos, hyperlinks, photos, etc. Through this, our focus has shifted be one that is visual in terms of content rather than web design and set up. Arola argues that although these aspects are important, there needs to be constant conversation regarding design and the template of design as something that is consistently able to held in the hands of the creator, rather than the focus just being on more surface level web design decisions such as photo, video, etc. There has to be a balance between everything. Much of this can be achieved through what Arola argues as the power behind autonomous interfaces which “do rhetorical work,” behind the storytelling process. Through these processes she is arguing the importance of design agency, and the ability for the creator to have their own process in the rhetoric that is created amongst interfaces. Arola emphasizes that there is lack of freedom between social media sites and our ability to express autonomy amongst these sites. There is a lack of flexibility in the ability to design our profiles on social media sites, such as Facebook, which limit the ability for creative expression but also the interpretation created through social media.

Viewing her analysis in a more contemporary view, a social media site that aligns with the inability to be fluid within template design is Instagram. As a site, there is a continuous emphasis placed upon image and the ability for one to present themselves in various ways through image and interaction with these images, as is similar to Arola’s analysis of Facebook. However there are also strict guidelines on how one is able to present their image, specifically in format size, video length, and an overall page layout, that limits autonomy amongst social media users and their ability to utilize the web deeper than surface level image decisions. Through this, users who utilize sites like Instagram are only able to attain set amounts of knowledge upon the autonomy of their design, thus lacking their ability to be completely independent in their sites decisions. However, is makes the use of the app simple and accessible to many, including those who are simply trying to use the site for image layout rather than learning more about web design.