Coherent Fragments: The Problem of Mobility and Genred Information

TitleCoherent Fragments: The Problem of Mobility and Genred Information
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSwarts, Jason
JournalWritten Communication
Keywordsgenre, medical writing, mobile, PDA, place, technology

Genres embody typified discursive activity that is situated in an ecology oftexts, people, and tools. Within these settings, genres help writers compose
recognizable information artifacts. Increasingly, however, many professions
are becoming mobile, and mobile technologies (e.g., personal digital assistants
[PDAs]) are creating problems of translation as writers attempt to make genres
work across contexts. Mobile devices uproot genres from their native contexts,
undercutting their ability to mediate discursive activity. The semantically
reduced design of PDA-accessible information magnifies these problems by
obscuring, but not erasing, genre characteristics that tie information to its
native context. Readers must assume the burden of composing meaningful
information artifacts,work otherwise offloaded to genres. The author explores
the nature of this composition burden in a case study of veterinary students. He
finds that context and the degree of mobility both influence student perception
of this composition burden.