This week’s blog will discuss a topic from the book currently being read, The Rhetoric of Agitation and Control by Bowers et. al. Chapter 2 of the book is a good summary and description of the steps of rhetoric a group goes through to make changes in society. Strategies of agitation explained are given in a generally progressive order. The strategies are petition, promulgation, polarization, nonviolent resistance, escalation/confrontation, Gandhi and guerrilla, and revolution. Polarization is the agitation strategy I feel most compelled to blog about. With my group’s White Paper, polarization could be an extremely effective approach to getting changes made. Our social issue is human trafficking, a huge issue in Atlanta specifically.

Polarization may not be an effective topic when two views on an issue are popular and morally aligned with the dominate morals in society. An example of this is how taxes should be set for incomes. Some people believe taxes would be best set high for those with high incomes, others believe those individuals should have low taxes so they have that money to employ others. Polarization could just divide opinions and not convince the public to take your side.

In a case such as ours polarization may be the most effective approach. If a person decided they felt human trafficking was ok, they would be shut out and denounced by the rest of society. We, as humans, also have morals that human trafficking and abuse is wrong. To polarize people, a statement could be made along the lines of “By ignoring human trafficking, you are essentially approving it.” People’s emotions will cause them to not want to approve it and will be compelled to do something to stop it. The approach of polarization in rhetoric has potential to be the most useful agitation strategy is applied in the right situation.

Aside  —  Posted: March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Persuasion and the Internet

Posted: March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

                Today’s discussion in English centered on persuasion online and with technology. I believe persuasion, the internet, technology, and all of their connections to the Internet are deserving of a blog post. Depending on what way persuasion online is examined, the Internet can be a great tool and medium for persuasion, or online can be a terrible way to persuade others with rhetoric.

                The way the Internet and users online have huge potential to persuade is through the vast diversity of users. To me, awareness is the first step of persuasion. Before a person is convinced to take the perspective of a rhetorician online, the person must know of the issue. Millions and millions of people access the internet frequently, so it is an inexpensive way to put something out in the open for large amounts of people to see quickly.

                An issue I see with the Internet as a means for persuasion, and the downfall of online persuasion is actually convincing a person to take a view or change views on a topic. Part of the key of people seeing so much content online, and how content reaches so many people through the Internet is the speed at which most users go through webpages. Many users spend hours online clicking through websites, photo galleries, etc. This way they see a lot and could learn of what you are trying to convey, but not take interest. Getting a person’s focus on an issue without speaking in person or somehow grabbing their attention enough to invoke deep consideration is extremely difficult online.

                In general I think the Internet is a tremendously helpful tool in persuading individuals. Simple explanations and pictures may convince some; however, the main feature I see is raising awareness of thousands of people easily in hopes they will look further into other individuals’ arguments and focus on what is being said.

Library Research

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past Thursday our class was an introduction to research in the library class. In high school and middle school I had similar orientation type programs for the libraries, but they seemed like a waste of time. Now with a resource like Georgia Tech’s library I am excited to have access to such great amounts of knowledge. Learning how to use databases on the Georgia Tech Library’s website, http://www.library.gatech.edu/, is something I wanted to do. The libraries resources are much deeper and more helpful than a simple Google search or looking for a book on the shelves. The multitude of databases to search through is both a pro and a con. The good aspect is there are millions of articles to search through, but the downside is all of the databases cannot be searched at once. Looking through the different areas separately, I may not know exactly how the type of article I am looking for is classified. So far my group for the white paper project has only skimmed the library’s resources looking for topics and one resource has already jumped out as a useful resource for this project. CQ Researcher, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/, has an in depth analysis for many social issues. They are well written and mostly neutral with a goal of informing the reader, not persuading. That website will certainly be helpful in choosing a topic and getting a direction for the paper. As this project’s research portion goes on I am sure I will find more ways the library is more helpful than I knew, but as it is early on I can only speculate what to what end the library will surprise me.

Digital Rhetorical Analysis Tools

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

                Essays reporting on the usefulness of a digital rhetorical analysis tool were due this week.  As a part of turning the papers in, each group was to give an impromptu five minute presentation on the tool they analyzed. Those presentations caused me to think, “What if a rhetorical speech or writing could be put into a program and a grade were given?” The grade could be for a class, or for the effectiveness of addressing a rhetorical situation.

                None of the programs assessed by groups or found in our research were near capable of this level of intelligence. None of the programs were even capable of determining the exigence, audience, or any background information. Will computers reach this level? It seems likely with how far computers have come that one day they will be able to do this. If so when? 3 years? 10? 50?

In the case computers could be capable of this, I argue we would be better off not creating a program to grade rhetorical works. If a program was left to grade, there would almost always be special circumstances or little nuances a computer would have to be programmed to pick up each instance of. An experienced human with some time and effort will always be a better option. There is another reason not to create such a program. If a seemingly good grading program were created, humans would not be paid to perform these tasks. As a result of the only human involvement being the programmers, rhetoric would stall and not be advanced anymore because computers just do what they are coded to do and not look for new directions of rhetoric.

Could the golden age of digital rhetorical analysis tools be now? I think they are and should be kept in their aiding humans tool stage.

Different Direction

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week’s blog will be a bit different. It will focus less on the topic of rhetoric and more on the topics of working in a group on essays and work shopping essays with other groups. With a rough draft of only half the length of a final draft problems arise work shopping because the reader may not get a great feel for the essay, but helpful advice and criticism can be given. Reading another essay on the same general topic helps all people involved. For the reader, they can see what they might want to do similarly or what major aspects are missing including but not limited to citations, visual aids, and headers. The person whose essay is being read gets helpful tips and is also let known what went over extremely well. The effective items can be expanded or those techniques can be implemented in more parts of the paper.

Working in groups along with people who have not read the essay previously is an effective approach to improving an essay. The people can come up with completely new angles. However, just one person reading an essay could do that. Two people reading an essay for the first time are much better. They can discuss ways to improve the third member’s work and in that discussion come up with even better ideas which no one person could have. While working in groups on essays can be hard to do logistically, the essay usually turns out clearer, better-rounded, and more knowledgeable than if a single person completed a long essay. The group work shop work uses this idea and compounds it.

First About Lanier

Posted: February 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week’s blog will be the first blog with ideas prompted by Jaron Lanier’s You are Not a Gadget. The first idea I found an urge to write about was that of lock-in. Lock-in happens in many ways in technology. One example is the QWERTY keyboard layout; the cost would be extremely high to switch keyboard layouts even if a clearly better layout was found, so we are locked in. That example does not seem like a big one as it likely does not hinder how we express ourselves or even slow down our computer usage much.

Other examples really can hinder our individuality. A few things locked-in I see potentially hurting our ability to be unique are fonts online and the layout of social networking sites. Fonts on websites people can post or send messages on, whether the posts are comments, social media posts, forum posts, or any other type, are usually restricted to one plain font for all users. The problem here is everyone looks like they have the same voice and are just identified by their screen name. If everyone is just identified by a short set of characters, we may not be thought of as individual humans so much. Social networking sites are usually very structured in how a profile or any part looks. Users cannot customize them much so they are forced to look similar to millions of other people on the same site. The effect is similar to the fonts one.

Even with all of this I do not see a big issue, people do not live on the internet, we are still humans with lives and the internet is just a small aspect of them, If everyone looks exactly the same online except for what they say, then the internet is just a great tool to communicate.

The Guerrilla Girls used rhetoric in creative and effective ways. Prior to reading Anne Demo’s article I had never heard of the Guerrilla Girls. After reading the article I think they should be used as examples much more often when an example is needed for the use of rhetoric or of changing people’s views.

A key I saw to their effectiveness was the passion for their cause. While this may not seem like a big deal, I think passion drove them to come up with effective plans to change people’s opinions on art made by women. The posters and accompanying mottos created by the Guerrilla Girls are a particularly effective form of rhetoric. The juxtaposition is very clever to get the mind thinking. The goal of their juxtaposition usage is clear, but confuses the viewer’s mind to get to achieve their goal. That approach is nearly the definition of juxtaposition. Causing the conflict in the viewer’s thoughts is much more effective than a simple informational flier or poster because more attention. If I were to see a poster with boring text just to read, I would just move on. This approach to rhetoric seems effective because it is memorable after thinking about it.

The poster shown here is extremely interesting to me. The poster uses statistics to give more credibility to the argument. But statistics are not the most important part of the effectiveness of the poster to me; the most effective part is the topic. The topic is something possibly controversial or at the least anything but bland.Image

Image from: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/women/about/GuerrillaGirls.JPG

The Guerrilla Girls are a great example of a group using rhetorical tactics effectively and deserve a close look to study how they work so well for their cause.

Aside  —  Posted: January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized