Integrated Theory for Digital Rhetoric

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Zappen, James P. “Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated Theory.” Technical Communication Quarterly 14.3 (2005): 319-25. Web. 1 May 2012.

This article offers a survey of the literature of the history of digital rhetoric. Traditional rhetorical persuasion and its restructuring for digital spaces (319) and opportunities to expand on traditional rhetoric (320) are discussed. Digital media’s basic modes and models of communication as well as the related difficulties are discussed (321). For example, “Anonymity encourages experiments in self and gender identities, but it also problematizes notions of authorship and ownership and encourages ‘flaming’–the hostile expression of strong emotions” (321). The formation of identity and community are also discussed (322), with comments from players who create player characters and decide whether they are their pc or not. Zappen notes that relationships between online and offline communities actually increase social ties (323). He ends with questions, which he says will lead towards an integrated theory.

There are some useful ideas discussed, especially in connection with yesterday’s post (identity, community, ownership and authorship). But as a move towards an integrated theory of digital rhetoric, this article falls short. The review of literature covers a single article or two per point and is by no means comprehensive.

Most helpful would be the stories included, with quotes, about how online and offline personalities, identities, and questions relate.


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