The question of whether or not computers can write autonomously is at this point moot (hello, AI and generative text!), but perhaps where the field of digital writing needs further exploration is in the re-examination of writing practices, as well as how they can be taught.
In their essay “Digital Writing: Philosophical and Pedagogical Issues,” Serge Bouchardon and Victor Petit argue that the technical (material) and symbolic (cultural) dimensions of digital writing must be explored as a Janus faced issue. Building upon established theories of writing from Derrida and Barthes, the essay explores the transfer of writing into the digital realm as a mechanized process–more transparent in the French term “écriture numérique” or in expressions such as “‘computerized media’ … [which] continually remind us that the specificity of these media is that they are writing technologies.”
Given this formulation of digital writing, Bouchardon and Petit propose teaching digital writing through three levels of understanding: writing by the machine (theoretical analysis of computational composition); writing for machines (platform analysis); and writing with machines (user interaction and semiotic analysis). As a case study, the text explores the PRECIP project (PRatiques d’ÉCriture Interactive en Picardie; on interactive writing practices in the Picardy region of France), which treats print and computational literacy as distinct approaches in today’s classroom.