Digital Rhetorics… What are They?

Derek Mueller posted this on Sweetland’s Digital Rhet Collaborative Site, and I found it a thought-provoking piece. I’m going to engage his invitation. A Googlism (he explains this in the post) for “Digital Rhetoric is” yielded the following results, sprinkled with his own additions. I’m going to share the ones I liked best. So, for me, Digital Rhetoric is…

  1. digital rhetoric is characterized by many new genres
  2. digital rhetoric is ?rhetoric? that is ?digital
  3. digital rhetoric is more of a disciplinary nebula than a field
  4. digital rhetoric is the sattelitization of a lost dog found with an embedded RFID chip
  5. digital rhetoric is a Roland Barthes hologram annotating images of his mother and more in a Flickr set called “Almosts”
  6. digital rhetoric is a bridging mechanism between digital consumers and producer
  7. digital rhetoric is worthy of greater attention by rhetoric and communication
  8. digital rhetoric is especially important now that so many citizens rely on official websites as sources of information
  9. digital rhetoric is objects by which I mean units by which I mean things by which I mean nonhumans
  10. digital rhetoric is wasted if those same students aren’t also able to see the relevance of digital rhetoric to their own lives once they leave

There’s my top ten. What does digital rhetoric mean to you? What are digital rhetorics? And… my big question… how are digital rhetorics and digital literacies different or the same? Many of the statements above could replace “digital rhetoric” with “digital literacy.” Perhaps we need more cross-talk between the digital literacy and digital rhet folks?

2 thoughts on “Digital Rhetorics… What are They?

  1. Derek

    Glad to see you take this up, Liz. Reading your top ten here, I’m drawn this time to #3. It reminds me that the domain of digital rhetorics is unlike fields that have evolved more slowly within academic walls. Nebula frames it more as an expanse, a scatter-blast of sorts (due perhaps to its diverse practices and its rapid rates of change). Identification with this nebula is also fraught because it is not limited to the expertise of a few. The nebula/field line takes me back to discussions about Computers and Writing and Digital Humanities as field-like identifiers for academics. These terms matter quite a bit more in academic circles than they do anywhere else, though perhaps network thinking can help keep C&W and DH nebular, despite the implicit pull in either area to become (or be recognized as) a field.

    1. Liz Homan Post author

      Thanks for reading, Derek, and for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you — my hope is certainly that due to the nature of our digital, networked world that we can keep our “nebularity.” I work a lot in the K-12 arena, too, where the pull to “be a field” for new/digital literacy folks is perhaps even stronger (based on my observations) than that same pull for C&W & DH. My hope is that the two nebula (digital literacies and digital humanities) may both maintain their nebularity, remind themselves of their constantly fluxing and changing natures as “fields,” and perhaps experience some nebular overlap. Thanks again!

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