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Edward Barrett

Edward Barrett is Senior Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT.

Titles by This Author

The mobile device is changing the ways we interact with each other and with the world. The mobile experience is distinct from the desktop or laptop experience; mobile apps require a significantly different design philosophy as well as design methods that reflect the unique experience of computing in the world. This book presents an approach to designing mobile media that takes advantage of the Internet-connected, context-aware, and media-sharing capabilities of mobile devices. It introduces tools that can be used at every stage of building a mobile application, from concept creation to commercialization, as well as real-world examples from industry and academia.

The methods outlined apply user-centered design processes to mobile devices in a way that makes these methods relevant to the mobile experience--which involves the use of systems in the complex spatial and social world rather than at a desk. The book shows how each project begins with generative research into the practices and desires of a diverse set of potential users, which grounds research and design in the real world. It then describes methods for rapid prototyping, usability evaluation, field testing, and scaling up solutions in order to bring a product to market. Building Mobile Experiences grew out of an MIT course in communicating with mobile technology; it is appropriate for classroom use and as a reference for mobile app designers.

Most books on Web design focus on the appearance of the finished product and pay little attention to the ideas and processes involved in intelligent interactive design. This book is based on the premise that the principles that have defined good communication design in the past apply equally well to the Web. The basic process is one of defining the purpose, audience, and style appropriate to one's objectives. Another premise is that effective Web site design is an inherently collaborative process requiring not only technical skills but more traditional written and oral communication skills. Hence, this book stresses a social, process-oriented approach both to design and to classroom instruction.

The book covers all aspects of teaching Web design, from optimal class size and classroom configuration to peer review of completed projects. It is written in an accessible style and uses many examples from the Web design course taught by the authors at MIT.

Classical Rhetoric, Oralism, and a New Literacy

"We are commonly not aware of the complex history of orality and literacy and of the effects of this history on the depths of human consciousness, where electronic communication is now having its deep and as yet not understood effects. Professor Welchs work can give us some of the in-depth understanding we need to be aware of where we really are."-- from the foreword by Walter J. OngComputer screens now dominate many workplaces, and televisions are ubiquitous in our homes, waiting rooms, and many public spaces. In Electric Rhetoric, Kathleen E. Welch explores the profound changes in writing and discourse brought about by electronic forms of communication. To this end, she integrates three related strands: the redeployment of Sophistic classical rhetoric; current literacy theories within rhetoric and composition studies, including gender and race issues; and the inherently rhetorical nature of "screens" in relationship to writing and other communication technologies. Throughout the book Welch deals extensively with women's issues, which have played a particularly important role in the history of oralism. Welch's ultimate aim is to help build a movement to change, partly through critical pedagogy, the actions people take in their daily writing and speaking lives.

Titles by This Editor

Multimedia and Interpretation


Contextual Media expands upon the theme of social construction of knowledge developed in Edward Barrett's three previous volumes. The thirteen contributions focus on specific applications of multimedia technology to cultural institutions such as museums, universities, and corporate environments; they analyze narrative and other navigational structures in various interactive multimedia systems and make recommendations for the design of future systems based on these analyses; and they present innovative uses of multimedia that break out of the confines of a single terminal to develop interactive transformational environments.

Contributors: Colin Beardon, Walter Bender, Edward Brown, Mark H. Chignell, Glorianna Davenport, Ben Davis, Peter S. Donaldson, Larry Friedlander, Geri Gay, Ricki Goldman-Segall, Janet H. Murray, Patrick Purcell, Michael Roy, Niall Sweeney, Laura Teodosio, Suzette Worden.


Multimedia, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Knowledge
Edited by Edward Barrett

Sociomedia continues the assessment of hypertext and hypermedia systems begun in Text, ConText, and HyperText and The Society of Text. It examines the use of integrated multimedia to support social or collaborative research, learning, and instruction in the university, one of the best environments for developing and analyzing the effects of computing technologies on our understanding of complex sets of information. The twenty-five contributions discuss critical design issues in the creation of advanced multimedia computing technologies, describe the systems now in use, and assess the effectiveness of this emerging technology.

Barrett's opening essay further explores his original and thought-provoking application of social construction theories of knowledge to the development and analysis of multimedia systems. The chapters that follow look at the effectiveness of particular multimedia systems across the curriculum, from medicine, sociology, and management to language learning, writing, literature, and intergenerational studies.

Writing with and for the Computer
Edited by Edward Barrett

Text, ConText, and HyperText presents recent developments in three related and important areas of technical communication: the design of effective documentation; the impact of new technology and research on technical writing; and the training and management of technical writers.

The contributors are all authorities drawn from universities and industry who are active in defining and analyzing the role of computing in technical documentation and the role of documentation in the development of computing technology. This first synthesis of their diverse but related research provides a unique conceptualization of the field of computers and writing and documentation.

The book first examines techniques for writing online documentation and the value of usability testing. It presents new research into the impact of human factors in screen design and designing online help, and looks at the impact of desktop publishing on documentation, and at visual literacy and graphic design.

Artificial intelligence and documentation processing are then addressed with discussion of data acquisition, automated formatting in expert systems, and document databases; the uses of HyperText in documentation; and the future of technical writing in this new environment.

Text, ConText, and HyperText concludes by examining the training and management of documentation groups: how they "learn to write" in industry, management of large-scale documentation projects and their effect on product development; and the "two cultures" of engineering and documentation.

Text, ConText, and HyperText is included in the Information Systems series, edited by Michael Lesk.

Hypertext, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Information
Edited by Edward Barrett

This collection of essays continues Barrett's investigations into implementing networked online systems described in his first book Text, ConText, and HyperText, with a more focused emphasis on specific hypermedia systems. In four parts the 22 essays take up designing hypertext and hypermedia systems for the online user; textual intervention and collaboration; new roles for writers; and sensemaking and learning in the online environment.

In his introduction, Barrett analyzes the design of networked online systems as part of a collaborative process, asserting that the online environment fosters collaboration by using computer technology to support interaction among those who design, use, and write software.

The first five essays present a genealogy of hypertext development, assess various hypertext designs, discuss users' wants and needs, and analyze the "rhetoric" of hypertext applications in light of new models for computer human interaction. Seven essays then take up new, important online systems for information retrieval, document production, and training in the online environment. Included are a first time full scale analysis of the Athena Muse hypermedia system developed at MIT, the hypertext environment Intermedia, developed at Brown, the University of Maryland's Hyperties, and the Educational Online System for document production and training technical writers, now in its second year of use at MIT.

New roles for writers and productivity gains provided by online environments are the subject of the next six essays. The final four essays discuss instructional efficiency and the failures of instructional materials. Novel proposals are described for addressing the needs and strategies of learners, for supporting cooperative work in creating, revising, and testing a software program, for evaluating online help systems, and for eliminating ambiguity in online text.

Edward Barrett is Lecturer in the Writing Program at MIT. The Society of Text is included in the Information Systems series, edited by Michael Lesk.