The last blog post was written as my last, but I have decided to write another reflecting on what is happening in English 1102 with Dr. Gibbons. The last part of the year is completing portfolios in both English 1101 and 1102. The portfolios are a compilation of all the work we have done throughout the semester with reflections on those works. Everyone does the same and all the files are named in the same style then held on a central server. This makes assessing for graduation requirements easy, if the files exist as stated the individual is good to go.

What would Jaron Lanier think about this system?

Lanier makes his views clear in this book, You Are Not a Gadget that he is against making everyone doing the same thing and limiting creativity. He is worried hive thinking tendencies will take dominance and individuality will be lost between people. The portfolio is an annoyance to most students and in addition to being annoying the portfolio is doing exactly what Lanier does not want. The portfolio requires each of us to submit a rough draft and a final draft of three projects each. We must then explain what differences made a positive difference between the two drafts. This works well for essays and some presentations but not as well for websites or social media works. My group made a Facebook and a Twitter to attempt to reduce human trafficking instances. So what to do for the drafts? This issue is not online, but is exactly what Lanier writes about. We have to conform to what the portfolio says, this requires making less creative projects or twisting what we did to fit (partially) the rough and final drafts. Our solution was to consider the Facebook the draft because we used what we learned from it in the Twitter. Not so much a draft, but it was practice. Lanier’s views might not always be reasonable, but in the case of creative assignments he has some valid points.


The End

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

                The end of the semester in English 1102 focusing on digital rhetoric is here. This semester has taught me almost all my knowledge of rhetoric and certainly digital rhetoric specifically. In the last blog for this class I will be discussing different digital means and their capabilities and usefulness in making a change using what I have learned this semester. Some of the main avenues to go down on the Internet while making a change include websites, Facebooks, Twitters, petitions, and ads. The audience and exigence for an issue dictates which possibility is the best for the situation. Most issues have audiences that are everyone in the country, so the highest number of people reached is the best choice. Websites are useful to get information out and can be customized well, but someone must specifically go to that site so a much smaller audience exists. That is different from Twitters and Facebook pages where hundreds of millions of people get on those websites regularly. The constraints limit the usefulness of Twitter and Facebook at the same time. They are constrained in creativity, the layouts are set and they must conform to the general feel of those sites.

                Petitions and ads are different, they are not the focus of a rhetorical strategy, but can add a significant amount of effectiveness to a campaign. A petition cannot be overlooked if involving the government is needed; they have been proven to be successful over and over. To prove that point, politicians must use petitions to be elected as instructed by the law. Ads can help any campaign as long as they give information and look aesthetically pleasing. The more people involved with knowledge the better to make a change.

                Digital rhetoric cannot be fully understood ever, a life can be spent researching without knowing it all. This semester has just been an intro to digital rhetoric and I will continue to learn how to use it forever.

Prezi. . . . or PowerPoint?

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

PowerPoint or Prezi? That is the question faced by many people creating presentations today. If you do not know what a Prezi is a quick Google will answer what it is. In short, a Prezi is a presentation that flows across a large space and zooms in and out of the text and images. I will write my comparison considering their rhetorical values. The main difference between the two is the rhetorical situations they should be used in. A Prezi is generally a less formal and flashier way to make a presentation. Some may view Prezis as gimmicky. As a result, Prezis are best used for innovative presentations such as marketing presentations. A bad rhetorical situation to use one is convincing a jury of the guilt of a criminal in a murder trial. PowerPoints are a more professional and serious presentation tool. They can be better for important business meetings like a merger between two large banks.

Personally I like PowerPoint better, it does not rely on the internet and does not freeze or have glitches like the Prezi website has for me. PowerPoint can also be used in any case, a PowerPoint can be made innovative with links, colors, sounds, transitions, etc. A Prezi is much harder to make serious and has less flexibility in presentation choices.

When deciding which to use, audience, rhetorical exigence,  and gravity of the situation should be considered. For more formal settings and serious situations a PowerPoint is probably the way to go, but for a more creative looking, fun, exciting, and flowing presentation a Prezi is worth a try.

Next year Prezis may be all the rage and PowerPoints could look as if they were created in the Stone Age. If that is the case, that should be considered as well.

Design Principles

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

                Today’s class in English 1102 featured presentations on Alignment, Chunking, Contrast, Consistency, and Tension. All of those topics are fairly simple when considered individually. They could even just be thought of as natural techniques most people use or consider when creating a visual aid. Tension is the design principle with the most grey area or confusion but with a bit of research it can be figured out. What I found interesting and talked about little during presentations was the overlap between the five design principles covered.

                In just the background of a PowerPoint presentation Alignment, Chunking, Contrast, Consistency, and Tension can all be observed and utilized. To describe this background using all of them would be a background with waves around the edges. The waves should be aligned with the edge of the slide, not randomly placed in the middle of the page or at odd angles. Along with the placement/alignment is chunking. Waves should be in similar sections, or chunks. If waves were thrown around the page and spread out that would be distracting to the reader. Contrast and consistency go together as well. To create attention for the content of a PowerPoint contrasting colors may be used. At the same time the colors need consistency. If some colors are pastel, all should be. If some are pastel and others are not it would look sloppy. Contrast can still exist between colors such as red and yellow side by side. Consistency and Tension go along here too. Tension can be created with the lack of consistency or consistency in almost all areas but a couple. In the wave example this could be smooth big waves around most the paper, but then for tension created in conjunction with consistency the waves around a portion of the slide would be short choppy waves.

                Different ways these principles overlap could be talked about for pages, but the wave PowerPoint background example was an attempt to cover as many as possible in a reasonable length blog post. In the upcoming class presentations even more ways the principles overlap will arise and be interesting to observe.

Learning Learning Learning

Posted: April 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are only a few weeks left of the semester learning about digital rhetoric. Almost everything I know about rhetoric digital or not is from this semester. Because of that it is no surprise to me how much I am still learning about rhetoric. Just starting the final assignment has taught me a lot more. Going into the White Paper I thought creating a whole campaign to solve a social issue was an unthinkable assignment for English 1102. Now that the White Paper is done I thought the assignment was a bit more reasonable but not completely so.

Now that I have started the final project with my group I see the value of the assignment. If a person can be rhetorically effective digitally they can accomplish what they want much more easily than trying to do so without prior experience. It was also easier than I expected to come up with a full detail multi-step plan to make a difference socially.  Enacting the plan and being successful seems extremely difficult even with a well thought out plan. With over 2.2 billion (shown by region in graphic with this post) users on the Internet today there is nearly unlimited opportunity to get a message out but a nearly equal chance of being overshadowed or washed out by those other users. Going into actually completing the first steps our group will have to keep open and creative minds to come up with ideas for a unique movement that will stick out in a sea of internet campaigns. I am sure doing so will keep the learning continuing at a high pace through the last week of the semester.

The section in The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control on the United States’ involvement in the Middle East since 9/11 is short, but possibly the most interesting part of the whole book. Prior to reading the section I did not know about some of the protests and how early they started. That is particularly surprising to me because I lived through 9/11 and the “War on Terror” that followed and did not live through the Civil Rights Movement which I knew more about. I was surprised to learn ANSWERS organized a protest in Washington D.C. and San Fransisco only 18 days after the events of 9/11.

I was also surprised at the effectiveness of the rhetorical tactics used in that early time. ANSWERS knew the United States and George Bush planned to go to war to retaliate and wanted to prevent the retaliation. I think they were bold and took a huge risk to protest war only a couple weeks after the attack, I would have been worried about the backlash from millions of citizens who wanted to see payback for the deaths of friends, family, and fellow American citizens. The organizers of initial protests and subsequent protests were also extremely smart about how they protested. I think the locations they chose in the hearts of big cities have shown they may have been the smartest protestors yet. They did not achieve their goals, but the U.S. was seemingly bound to go to war with nothing stopping that. The locations of protests and use of digital means also resulted in protests worldwide being larger than ever in some places. The peacefulness of the protests also showed how thought out from a rhetorical standpoint the protests were. The protestors wanted their voices heard and their views expressed, but did not just want to rebel and get attention through violence.

Kony 2012

Posted: March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Today in class we watched then discussed the Kony 2012 video made by Invisible Children Inc and directed by Jason Russell. The video has been extremely successful as a rhetorical device to create awareness and a sense of urgency in millions of Americans, especially young Americans with time, energy, and ambition. I found an interesting part of the video and accompanying campaign to be the political campaign styling associated with the shirts, stickers, posters, etc. I have decided to look at that approach to rhetoric.

Kony 2012 is certainly not the first movement to use this tactic to get the attention of Americans. One example I know of is Car and Driver’s Save the Manuals! campaign. While I am not in any way comparing the goals of a semi-parody campaign to get manufacturers to keep building manuals to a movement to bring a war criminal to justice, the rhetorical strategies employed are comparable. Both make effective use of logos to capture the eye of someone who glances at a sticker or shirt. This first step is critical to get a person to think about the cause the symbol represents. Just like a Presidential election, a viewer will be compelled to research the topic and formulate their own views while becoming educated.

Both Invisible Children Inc. and Car and Driver created catchy slogans/titles to their campaigns. They did so as a solidification rhetorical agitation technique. Both “Kony 2012” and “Save the Manuals” are memorable, short, and elicit a sense curiosity towards the movement. When a person looks into the campaigns, they find a clean website and/or video along with well thought out and action inspiring arguments.


"Save the Manuals!" logo from Car and Driver


Kony 2012 from Invisible Children Inc.

The main difference between these campaigns is the seriousness of the Kony 2012 and the sarcastic approach to the Save the Manuals movement. The debate of which is a business and which is not (a Kony 2012 Action Kits costs $30 while a Save the Manual one costs $15) is a can of worms I think is best left closed for now.