Defining Vague Terms


The two most perplexing and vaguely defined terms Spilka has thrown at me so far are “The Rhetoric of Technology” and “Digital Literacy”. I read the author’s 5-page description of the rhetoric of technology, but still didn’t quite grasp it because she focused on separating it from “The Rhetoric of Science” instead. From what I understood she defined it more in terms of its practical application in organizations and society when dealing with specific situations.

In my opinion, the rhetoric of technology is pretty much technical writing. I think it could be a description of a particular piece of technology, how to use a certain technology, or thoroughly understanding the purpose and all the potential a certain technology has. I believe the heart of rhetoric lies in the author’s ability to effectively plant their thoughts and beliefs within their audience’s minds so naturally they don’t realize it. So I would say the rhetoric of technology encompasses the same in the realm of technology.

Spilka defined “Digital Literacy” more in terms of “ professionals knowing not just how to do things with technology but also why and when action needs to take place… One must have not only an ability to use new media technologies, but also a critical self-awareness that questions why and explores purposes digital communication technologies serve in culture”. I found this definition intriguing because most Americans in my age group (I’m 25) have an advanced understanding of digital and media technologies, however most of us never questioned it’s purposes and roles in culture. We use it as a constant tool for communicating with friends and trivial entertainment never considering anything greater. It’s strange to wonder how Instagram, Whisper, Tango and Tumble have a greater role in society and what their true potentials might be.

Thinking long and hard, I suppose these apps and means of communication would be excellent tools for politicians and lawmakers to reach our demographic as statistics have shown that younger Americans are the least likely to vote. I could also see public service announcements going out through this medium and being more effective than the radio or television as we use our phones and these apps more. What ideas can you all come up with?

Posted on October 2, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I just went to the Pew Internet and American Life project website to see what their recent reports about millennials/digital natives have found and came across this one: Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’

    It’s interesting that even though, as you say, “these apps and means of communication would be excellent tools for politicians and lawmakers to reach our demographic,” it doesn’t seem like it inspires as much dialogue as we may have thought. If cyberliteracy as a definition is reduced to speed and reach, is that a good thing? Or do we want a web that is open and dialogic?

  2. The rhetoric of blogging about the rhetoric of technology….

    I am very results-oriented so I personally don’t see the point in taking up hours of time, keystrokes, and pages talking about the “rhetoric” of things.

    I took the rhetoric class and, just when I thought I had a grasp on what rhetoric really was… I realized that I still didn’t have much of a clue what I had been talking about all semester.

    Maybe the real question here is why is it so important to define what rhetoric of technical communication? How does it help professionals in their daily work lives?

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