Rhetorical Handbook: Heuristics and Heuretics
We would like to start this handbook by suggesting that heuristics (guides to analysis) and heuretics (guides to invention) are going to be of vital importance to effectively working with new media and digital communications, both as consumers/interpreters and producers/creators. The tradition of heuristics, schema, or topoi has been a central part of the rhetorical tradition, as teachers of rhetoric have always faced the difficult task of trying to teach a fluid, situational, unstable art—rhetoric—via memorable, coherent, useful strategies. McLuhan scholar Frank Zingrone (2001) suggests that heuristics like Marshall McLuhan's Laws of Media capture the positive spirit of "symplexity": "taking huge amounts of complexifying information and imploding it into simplistic transformations" (44). These heuristics and heuretics run the risk of over-simplifying analysis and production, and will always benefit from the critical eye of the dialectician, questioning both the value of the heuristic or heuretic, as well as the analyses or products produced.
- Marshall McLuhan's Laws of Media, via Mark Federman. Primarily a heurestic for analyzing media, the Laws of Media are best represented as a visual-verbal blend, working at the interface and print and visual analysis.
- Gregory Ulmer's PopCycle is a heuretic, a guide to invention employed by Ulmer as he worked out two genres of electracy: the mystory and the MeMorial.
- Ulmer's CATTt,] via Craig Stroupe, is a heuretic for a manifesto.
- Lev Manovich's 5 Principles of New Media, played by Madeleine Sorapure. Manovich's principles are a heuristic for analysis, but Sorapure turns them into a heuretic for invention.
- Kenneth Burke's Pentad. Although theorists like Stuart Selber identify the Pentad as a heuristic "problem solving strategy" (p. 172-73), it is also a richly generative strategy for inventing dramatistic production beyond academic problem-solving.
- Scott McCloud's Big Triangle, via Kevin Brooks.