Blue Net

Chapter Two: Digital Rhetoric: Theory


Spider Web

Chapter 2 recontextualized classical and contemporary rhetorics within digital environments. Digital analysis and production transformed the five “canons of classical rhetoric”—invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery (p. 64). Invention, which in its classical definition encompassed “finding available means of persuasion,” emerges as efforts to discover, seek out, and invent materials for arguments; as well as to interact with other texts, discourses, archives, and people, as invention becomes an intertextual, social endeavor. Arrangement transcends textual organization and structure into an architecture of connected hyperlinks in which users can remix existing texts. Style, synonymous with design, attains new significance as content and format become integrated in the production of digital arguments. Memory transcends storage as archives invite interpretation, recovery, and preservation. Delivery, in turn, moves beyond its oral sense into systems and networks of distribution, publication, circulation, and performance.

Douglas Eyman then considered the emergence of digital rhetoric within contemporary rhetorical theory in relation to the rhetorical situation, digital identity, and network rhetorics. From these interlocutors, Eyman introduced his own theory, one that conceptualized networks and digital rhetorics as “economies and ecologies of circulation” (p. 84). Beginning with ecosystems, or “specific, bounded locales where circulation takes place,” digital texts circulate within larger, interconnected ecologies (p. 86). Circulation occurs through textual appropriation and remix, for instance, on YouTube, in which shared videos undergo continual cycles of creation and recreation. Ecologies are sustained by “energy flows” produced by activity and labor, and operate within economies of circulation, or “production, distribution, and exchange” across networks (p. 90).

Continue to Chapter Two Implications.