Posts Tagged ‘rhetoric’

Is blogging “writing”?

April 8, 2010

Much of the research that has been done on writing frames what the writer does as surmounting a “rhetorical situation”. This is usually thought of as conceptualizing the audience, formulating the topic, and giving the text exigency or organization. It has also been thought of as the “rhetorical triangle”:

This is closer to the Aristotleian idea of rhetoric in which the speaker appeals to the logic of the subject (LOGOS), the audience’s emotions (PATHOS) and the author’s own character (ETHOS) in order to cause some effect on the audience.

In this view, then, is the blogger faced with a rhetorical situation?

Blogs are primarily text-based but usually multimodal, or comprised of additional modes such as images, videos, and hyperlinks, typography, layout and more. Some of the teen blogs I have surveyed contain not just text-based entries narrating their day-to-day lives, but also poetry and song lyrics, embedded video culled from video sharing sites like YouTube, and images which they drew or found online, as well as photographs taken with cellphone cameras.

When you compose with multimedia, is that “writing”? What about when you produce a new text using content not originally “yours” that you remix?

I wonder what is the most apt term for what the blogger does.

Merriam-Webster defines rhetoric as:

1 : the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a : the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b : the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion
2 a : skill in the effective use of speech b : a type or mode of language or speech; also : insincere or grandiloquent language
3 : verbal communication : discourse

It seems to me that this definition implies, though its emphasis on “effectiveness”, that the writer or speaker is persuading. So the rhetorical situation then would be a matter of “persuasion”.

So would blogging better be called the “task of composition”? Composing it seems captures this sense of using language to produce a text as well as bringing together particular elements to create a whole.

In some sense then, blogging IS writing. However, with its multimedial and multimodal components blogging is more than approaching a rhetorical situation involving topic, audience, and form or ethos, pathos and logos.