Posted by: soniahs | August 24, 2010

Exam reading: “Lingua Fracta”

Another exam reading: Collin Brooke’s “Lingua Fracta,” which tries to apply the canons of rhetoric to new media. My approach to rhetoric tends to be fairly informal, because I don’t come from a composition background with a heavy investment in using it in a strict way. Brooke’s approach seems reasonable, but I’m planning to re-read several of the texts he mentions, so we shall see what that turns up…

Summary: In this book, Brooke reinterprets the canons of rhetoric for new media. He begins by discussing three units of analysis: individual texts, interfaces, and broad theoretical constructs; he focuses on the interface level. He breaks down media studies into three levels of scale: code, practice (which he focuses on), and culture. He describes the canons as “ecologies of practice”: dynamic, interlocking, socially constructed and medium-dependent systems of sites, practices, and objects (rather than fixed, prescriptive stages in composition). Invention becomes proairesis: generation of open-ended texts that function as sets of possibilities, rather than as hermeneutic investigations to a conclusion (e.g., social bookmarking sites). Arrangement becomes pattern: usually database-driven, pattern emerges from repeated searches (e.g., tagclouds). Style becomes perspective: the viewer, interface, and objects operate together to create a viewing experience (different from traditional external perspective of rhetorical analysis; e.g., gaming interfaces). Memory becomes persistence: not just storage, memory is a matter of building patterns (“persistence of cognition”- particularly appropriate to Web) and more thorough traditional synthesis (e.g., RSS feeds, tagclouds). Delivery becomes performance: not a simple transaction, it includes both the content and the medium as they interact in a particular social setting (e.g., Wikipedia and credibility).

Comments: Many connections to (non-core) new media, composition, and critical theorists: Barthes (readerly/writerly texts), Derrida (perspective for critique), Hayles (pattern/randomness, embodied memory), Landow (hyperext), Lantham (looking at/looking through). Seems reasonable to look at expression of canons as medium-dependent. Logically organized and understandable (after reading Burnett), making it a hermeneutic text, I suppose…

Links to: Bolter (hypertext studies, Lantham cited); McLuhan (medium); Manovich (B. disagrees with M’s assertion that narrative & database are mutually exclusive forms)



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