CompFAQ/Digital Writing/Remediation

From Gerald R. Lucas
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📝 CompFAQ » Digital Writing 📖

Remediation in Technical Writing: Bridging the Analog-Digital Divide

Remediation, as a concept in media studies, was first expounded by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin in their influential work Remediation: Understanding New Media.[1] At its core, remediation refers to the process through which new media forms borrow elements from older media forms and, in doing so, transform and recontextualize them. It represents a dynamic interplay between different media, where each medium influences and remediates the other. Bolter and Grusin articulate two key principles:

Immediacy and Hypermediacy: Immediacy refers to the desire to erase or transcend the medium, making the viewer forget they are looking at a medium and instead focus on the content. In contrast, hypermediacy embraces the medium, highlighting its presence through multiple layers of representation. In digital media, hypermediacy is often manifested through the incorporation of various elements within a single document, such as text, images, videos, and hyperlinks.

Transparent and Opaque Media: Transparent media aim to efface themselves, allowing the content to take center stage. Opaque media, on the other hand, foreground the medium itself, making users aware of the medium’s presence. Remediation often involves a shift from transparent to opaque or vice versa, as digital writing reshapes traditional textual practices.

Remediation holds profound implications for digital writing. In the digital age, writing is no longer confined to the printed page; it is a multimodal endeavor. Technical writers must navigate the convergence of text, images, sound, and interactivity. Remediation provides a framework for this convergence, enabling writers to repurpose and adapt content from various sources to create engaging and informative digital documents.

Therefore, document design in technical writing is critical, and remediation plays a pivotal role. Here are key practical considerations:

User Engagement: Remediation allows for the creation of user-centered documents by incorporating multimedia elements that cater to diverse learning styles. For instance, an instructional manual for a complex software application can include video tutorials and interactive simulations to enhance user understanding.

Accessibility: Digital documents can be remediated to enhance accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Text-to-speech functionality, alt text for images, and closed captioning for videos are examples of remediation techniques that make content more inclusive.

Adaptability: In the fast-paced world of technology, documents need to be adaptable. Remediation facilitates this by allowing easy updates and revisions. A technical manual, for instance, can be remediated as an online knowledge base that can be continuously updated to reflect the latest information.

Examples Across Professions and Discourse Communities

To underscore the relevance and versatility of remediation, let’s explore how it manifests across different professions and discourse communities.

Medical Field: In medical research, traditional print journals have been remediated into digital platforms that incorporate interactive diagrams, videos of surgical procedures, and links to related studies. This enhances the dissemination of medical knowledge and facilitates more comprehensive learning.

Engineering: Engineering reports have transitioned from static printed documents to dynamic digital formats. Engineers now use 3D modeling software to create interactive prototypes that allow stakeholders to visualize and interact with designs, fostering better collaboration and decision-making.

Journalism: Traditional print journalism has been remediated into online news portals, where articles are enriched with multimedia elements such as videos, infographics, and social media integrations. This not only enhances reader engagement but also extends the reach of news stories.

Education: In the realm of education, textbooks are being remediated into e-books and digital learning platforms. These digital resources often include interactive quizzes, multimedia content, and collaborative tools, enhancing the learning experience for students.

In the digital age, the concept of remediation serves as a guiding principle for technical writers and document designers. It bridges the gap between analog and digital modes of communication, allowing for the seamless integration of various media elements. Understanding remediation is paramount for creating engaging, accessible, and adaptable digital documents.

As technical writing continues to evolve, embracing the principles of remediation empowers writers to craft documents that not only convey information effectively but also cater to the diverse needs and preferences of contemporary audiences. By acknowledging the transformative power of remediation, technical writers can navigate the ever-changing digital landscape with confidence and creativity, ultimately enhancing the impact of their communication.

Exercise: Remediation Challenge: Transforming Traditional Content into Digital Media

Objective: To familiarize you with the concept of remediation and its practical application. You will select a piece of traditional content from your respective field and transform it into a digital format, thereby gaining hands-on experience with remediation techniques.

Step 1: Selection of Traditional Content

  1. Identify a piece of traditional content relevant to your profession. This could be a written report, a presentation, a manual, an article, or any other document written by yourself or someone else. Do not choose anything too lengthy.

Step 2: Analysis and Planning

  1. Analyze the chosen traditional content to determine its key information and objectives.
  2. Consider the target audience and their preferences. What digital media elements (e.g., images, videos, interactive features) would enhance comprehension and engagement?
  3. Develop a plan for how you intend to remediate the content. Will you create a multimedia presentation, an interactive website, a video tutorial, or another digital format?

Step 3: Remediation Implementation

  1. Begin the process of remediation:
    • If you are not proficient in multimedia software, you can use user-friendly tools like Canva, Adobe Spark, or Microsoft Sway for creating multimedia content.
    • If you are comfortable with more advanced tools, consider using Adobe Creative Cloud, Camtasia, or similar software.
  2. Transform the traditional content into a digital format by incorporating multimedia elements, hyperlinks, and interactive features. Ensure that the remediated content is user-friendly and accessible.

Step 4: Documentation

  1. Create a brief post (≈500 words) that explains your rationale for the chosen remediation approach. Discuss how the digital format enhances the content’s effectiveness and audience engagement.
  2. Post this to the course blog.
  3. Read and response to someone else’s post. Provide constructive comments on the clarity, interactivity, and overall effectiveness of the remediation.


  1. Bolter, Jay David; Grusin, Richard A. (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Written: 2002, 2022; Revised: 10-30-2023; Version: Beta 0.7 💬