Searching Out the Rhetorics of the Internet

In his chapter, Burbules begins and ends with discussions of why we should pay attention to the rhetorical linking structures of the Internet.  His reasons include some of the following:

  1. The overwhelming magnitude of the Internet;
  2. The node and linking structure of the Internet;
  3. The current trivialization of knowledge and its conflation with information;
  4. The inability to discern or lack of concern for the credibility of sources;
  5. The predominance of video gaming and its limitations and its intensity relative to other immersive experiences such as reading;
  6. General and emergent atrophied abilities of people to sustain focus and concentration enough to read an entire essay;
  7. Hyperlinks reveal choices, assumptions and have real effects, whether intentional or otherwise
  8. Hyperlinks do not exist, they are made by real people with assumptions, prejudices and limitations
  9. To learn to read the absences as well as the presences, i.e. what was not linked? What associations were not made?

Activity: when you instruct your students to engage in an Internet scavenger hunt (a very common activity) it should be situated at some higher level on Bloom’s taxonomy. Otherwise, it can be quite brainless.  I designed an Internet scavenger hunt for the tropes of hyperlinks that requires higher order thinking.

You are to work in small groups to:

  • Find an instance of a hyperlink trope on the Internet; (best if found at an educational web site)
  • Support groups that are working to locate instances of the more difficult tropes. (Soon these will become evident, if they aren’t already.);
  • In your group, make a shared Webspiration brain storm / cognitive map that displays:
  1. The name of each trope;
  2. The rhetorical meaning of each trope;
  3. A linguistic example of each trope;
  4. An explanation of how the trope is applied to a rhetoric of web associations through linking;
  5. An Internet example of the trope;
  6. An explanation of why the example is in fact an instance of the trope.

Please consult with me as needed. Use the SMART board to share a part of your work with the rest of the class.

  1. Metaphor
  2. Metonymy
  3. Synecdoche
  4. Hyperbole
  5. Antistasis
  6. Identity
  7. Sequence & Cause and Effect
  8. Catechresis

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