Theory (5)
Fifth, eportfolios are first instrumental and then substantial, existing as tools for our use but then helping us to create new cultural systems that may in fact help to restructure the teaching of composition in general. Andrew Feenberg, who closely examines the "successes" and consequential "pitfalls" of Marxist critical theory and application within the realm of technology studies in his A Critical Theory of Technology, attempts to present a political alternative to established theories of technology [two types: Instrumental Theory, the dominant view of modern governments and the policy sciences on which they rely, treating technology as subservient to values established in other social spheres (e.g. politics and culture). In instrumental theory, technologies are seen as "tools," which are deemed "neutral," implying technology, "as pure instrumentality." This understanding of technology accounts for "the tensions between tradition, ideology, and efficiency, which arise from socio-technical change; and Substantive Theory, first proposed by Jacques Ellul (1967), which claims "what the very employment of technology does to humanity and nature is more consequential than its ostensible goals" (p.5). In Substantive Theory, stemming from Ellul and Heidegger's request to make technology more than just an instrument for achieving wealth and power, he acknowledges that "technology constitutes a new type of cultural system that restructures the entire social world as an object of control, technology is seen as autonomous, implying "we are engaged (Heidegger claims), in the transformation of the entire world, ourselves included, into 'standing reserves,' raw materials to be mobilized in technical processes (p.9). The Feenberg argues that a "coherent civilizational alternative" (p.18) may be found within "democratic reorganization of industrial society" (p.20).


Furthering this notion of eportfolios as becoming "Substantive" types of technology, Yancey (2004) suggests, "…representations constitute a rhetorical situation, precisely (1) because they are immediate, direct, and substantive-composing as they do, the material of our teaching lives and those of our students- and (2) because they perform a double function-providing grist for the twin mills of identity and assessment… Any representation is situated in multiple contexts (p. 739)… Portfolios are exercises in remediation. Like new media themselves, portfolios 'emerge from within cultural contexts, and they re-fashion other media, which are embedded in the same or similar contexts' (Bolter and Grusin 19)" (pp.747-748).