Since the words “visibility” and “invisibility” are ones that most people know, here are the dictionary.com definitions:
Visibility: the relative ability to be seen under given conditions of distance, light, atmosphere, etc.
Invisibility: withdrawn from or out of sight; not perceptible or discernible by the mind
In the context of computers writing, these terms get at the meaning of in / visible in a few ways. Below, I am mostly thinking about the readings we have done so far and the conversations we have had.
1) Different groups of people can be visible or invisible on the interface. So, the Selves warn that the white hand of the computer or the status signified by a “desktop” make certain groups of people more or less visible on the interface. Also, Alexander and Rhodes note of queer rhetoric the possibility that archives might make previously invisible histories more visible, but also that some parts of queer rhetorics will be invisible to people who are not a part of the community. To return to the dictionary definitions, these ways of being are can be physically visible (in that I can see a desktop or an issue of a men’s magazine from the 1950’s) but not fully discern what is going on.
2) McPherson initiates the idea of misleading visibility: the lenticular logic. Her examples are great illustrators. Race can be made visible one at a time (in Ken Burns documentary the stories of blacks and whites exists separately – not relational) but thus invisible when looking at each. Race can become completely invisible (she explains that Scarlett takes place in Ireland away from issues of race).
3) Bolter’s idea that hypertext remediates print claims as a benefit the increasingly pictorial nature of electronic writing (“welcomes elements that we in the West have long come to regard as inappropriate to writing”). In some way, expression is more visible in electronic writing; I guess, here, I’m associating what is visible with what is accepted / included. Also, there is something to be said about the in / visibility of hyperlinks. For example, if the words: ‘bear riding a bicycle’ appeared above in blue, people might know what that link will be, but the pictorial nature of that vision would still be somehow invisible. Another try: in an outline, all the parts are at once visible, but in a layered, linked outline, that is not the case. Does that make them more or less visible?
Huh. There is probably more to say.