Transforming Advocacy (Chapters 1-3)

Beginning their collection, the editors demonstrate how new media transforms advocacy and activism.

Eileen Schell (Chapter 1) examines one example of cyberactivism—The Meatrix, which is a series of videos parodying the movie, The Matrix, but with animated farm animals interrogating how meat is produced. Although the meme critiques the food industry and builds solidarity with those critical of the troubling trends in this economic commodity, it also ignores local efforts to address this issue. Through this case study, Schell embraces critical literacy as an important component of digital culture, but she worries "that we do not define the bar for ‘critical use’ of digital media" (p. 23).

Schell argues for a more critical awareness of the complex resources and texts at work in agricultural communication. Her study not only coheres with the editors’ purposes, but it also demonstrates the problems still present in digital culture—while it does empower many, it still marginalizes some.

The Meatrix campaign critiques the food industry. Learn more at

Adrienne Lamberti (Chapter 2) then explores the relationship between digital technology and textual restructuring, challenging the divergence created between the hierarchical argumentative structures in traditional scholarship and the textual restructuring introduced by digital scholarship at places like Kairos. Readers of this journal will find her examination poignant because she understands that audiences are sometimes discomforted by the "shift in experience that occurs when readers encounter a fragmented argumentative arrangement" (p. 37). Thus, the digital restructuring of textual arguments presents the complexity and divergence threading this collection. Using a book review she wrote for Kairos, she chronicles her composing decisions as well as the complex exigencies she balanced between traceable and coherent thought and the variety of organization structures enabled by digital forms. She concludes that digital forms will continue to evolve as well as afford multivocality, distributed authority, and deconstructed grand narratives. Her conclusions are sound in that they collocate and organize the literature at work in hypertext theory, electracy, and digital rhetoric.

The last chapter in this section on advocacy (Chapter 3) examines open-source journalism. Leonard Witt discusses the multiple experiences new media can advocate and the divergences it creates between traditional and emerging journalism practices. In subsequent steps, Witt argues for sustainable models of activist journalism, which promote an open-source model where people voice their experiences and report them to the public. What readers of Kairos will find most interesting here are the implications Witt draws for multivocality as a component of critical pedagogy. If student voices are to be heard, teachers must still create the institutional structures these voices need in order to flourish. Witt argues that this requires teachers to "take what is of value from the traditional ways of thinking and doing and migrate with them into an era of uncertainty but great promise—the digital" (p. 73).

Professor Witt discusses the foundational inquiries of citizen journalism. Learn more at

Overall, this section reverberates with the critical implications of digital divergence, positioning rhetors and writing teachers to enable those who may be otherwise silenced.