What is Digital Rhetoric?

Today, we worked toward a definition of “digital rhetoric.”  I think we discovered that it’s actually pretty complex.

Just trying to define authorship became messy.  Is someone an author onlyAristotle_by_eviolinist if they are famous?  How much can an author borrow and still be an author?  What makes something original?

A few times, we tossed the work media around.  However, like authorship, media has complex meanings. Many commentators consider new media a catchall for all web-based texts.

In the end, Elizabeth Losh’s definitions from Virtualpolitik (2009) may be a good place to start.  She focuses on four definitions:

  1. The conventions of new digital genres that are used for everyday discourse, as well as for special occasions, in average people’s lives.
  2. Public rhetoric, often in the form of political messages from government institutions, which is represented or recorded through digital technology and disseminated via electronic distributed networks.
  3. The emerging scholarly discipline concerned with the rhetorical interpretation of computer-generated media as objects of study.
  4. Mathematical theories of communication from the field of information science, many of which attempt to quantify the amount of uncertainty in a given linguistic exchange or the likely paths through which messages travel. (47-8)

I think definitions 1 and 3 will be of particular use to us this semester.

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