A Defense of Digital Waste

The Computers and Writing subfield is inherently invested in innovation, but its pursuit leaves much in our wake: classroom software and hardware adopted with optimistic pedagogical intent but abandoned due to obsolesce, disuse, and burdensome upkeep; online collaborative spaces that fall vacant after never reaching a sustainable critical mass; digital Web resources that sit ignored and unmaintained after a period of initial interest; online journals whose publishing outputs begin with a flourish but slow to a trickle. This talk contends that such aborted efforts are not the mere byproducts of a drive to find the best method, tool, or resource; rather, our very involvement with digital technology is predicated upon the production of waste. Waste becomes both our intent and milieu. Such a depiction reframes these waste products as outcomes rather than failures.