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What is Digital Rhetoric? How does someone show digital literacy?

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In short, Digital Rhetoric is the use of tools within the digital space to efficiently influence people into persuasion of an idea or concept. A person can also demonstrate their digital literacy by reading, writing, finding, evaluating, and communicating information using digital platforms effectively. To better understand what digital rhetoric is and how someone demonstrates digital literacy, we must start by defining what these terms mean.

Definition of Digital

The definition of digital in this context is the coding of information through binary digits of 1’s and 0’s. Make no mistake, this is not the only definition of digital, this is in the context of computer systems and networks. Digital also means digits about our fingers according to Dough Eyman’s exploration of the word. In my blog post “Understanding Definition of Digital” I explored Eyman’s section of digital coming out with the understanding that any written form is considered digital as it is the coding of information through symbols that is communicating a message. Within the context of digital rhetoric and digital literacy, digital is the coding of information in an online space through binary digits of 1’s and 0’s.

Definition of Literacy

                The definition of Literacy is “the competence or knowledge in a specific area” according to Oxford Languages. In the context of digital literacy, however, it is the ability to read, write, find, evaluate, and communicate information using digital platforms. In my previous blog post, I explained that this can be done through different digital forums like coding a website, using video, and animation. With these having different forms of communication, the user must learn how to use them as each form has their form of function and requirements.

Definition of Rhetoric

                Rhetoric in simple terms is the art of persuasion. Or “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

The Meaning of Digital Rhetoric

Returning to the original question, digital Rhetoric is the use of tools within the digital space to efficiently influence people into persuading an idea or concept. There are layers to how I came to this conclusion of its definition. For one, Rhetoric as we have defined it, is the art of persuasion. The context of digital rhetoric, however, involves more as within the digital space users have access to many tools. These can be the ability to web design, change fonts, create hyperlinks, etc. All these tools can aid the user in their ability to persuade their target audience to understand and agree with their idea.

 Let’s say there is a charity, and their goal is to raise money for animal shelters in New Jersey. They want to share their message not just through traditional posters but also by building a website and social media page to promote their message. In order to persuade their target audience into donating to their charity they must set up both their website and social media in a user-friendly format. This cannot be achieved if the charity is not properly using its digital tools to improve its rhetoric. Such as the message or goals of the charity not being clear on the website page; The font being difficult to read and the aesthetic of the site itself being disorganized; On its social media there is no hypertext to direct the audience to the proper place to donate to and more.

Rhetoric Hypertext

Hypertext is actually a significant rhetorical tool used in the digital space. According to Eyman’s Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric, there is a theory centered around it called “Hypertext Theory” explored by Richard Lanham. He made a significant breakthrough in how hypertext changes the way documents are shared within digital networks. Landrow builds upon this idea and points out how hypertext bridges the connection between digital documents in an instant. Hyperlinks provide an instantaneous bridge within a text to other relevant resources. This tool significantly improves digital rhetoric as the user demonstrates their digital literacy by embedding the document through hyperlinks. Thus, it makes it accessible for users to instantly go to another document if they are curious.

So going back to the charity example. If the charity provides hyperlinks to its website, goals, mission, and place to donate it shows the audience they are professional in their efforts. Additionally, providing hyperlinks within their information as evidence improves their credibility as the audience can fact-check their sources. Thus, improving their digital rhetoric.

Visual Rhetoric

Visual Rhetoric within digital space is also an important aspect of digital Rhetoric according to Eyman. This is due to the collectives of media in the digital space like video, audio, animation, and interactive processes. If a user wants to communicate their message through these different forms of media, they must use the tools effectively. If they do not, they will run the risk of damaging their digital rhetoric.

Conclusion

Through these examples, it better illustrates what digital rhetoric is and how effective it can be in the digital space. The definition of the term is ever-expanding because of the constant improvement in digital spaces. But digital Rhetoric at its core is the use of tools within the digital space to efficiently influence people into persuading an idea or concept.

Demonstrating Digital Literacy

A person can demonstrate their digital literacy by reading, writing, finding, evaluating, and communicating information using digital platforms effectively. Digital literacy is an important aspect of digital rhetoric. This is because by not having a good grasp of understanding the symbols and tools associated with digital platforms it is difficult to communicate and evaluate information. According to Eyman, users must also understand “symbolic systems, visual representations of language, and digital object manipulation.”

Examples of Digital Literacy

An example that comes to mind would be icons of apps on both phones and desktops. These icons communicate information not through text but through symbols. This can be the gear symbol representing “settings” on a phone, an open letter representing “digital mail”, and a sphere with different colors representing “Google” the search engine. Furthermore, within each of these examples, there are more tools communicating their function to the user. Thus, for someone to demonstrate their digital literacy they must understand these symbols, use the tools correctly, and effectively communicate information with them. Digital literacy can also be shown through adaptation. Considering phones and computers alike will receive updates changing formatting, users show their literacy by quickly adapting to these changes.

Demonstrating digital literacy can also be done through evaluating information. There is a lot of misinformation roaming around the digital sphere, so it is important to identify them. This can be done through finding credible sources, the date it was published, the author, and checking resources.

Conclusion on Digital Literacy

Overall, digital literacy is constantly expanding due to the constant expansion of the digital world. It is through practice, adaptation, and perseverance that a user can improve on their own digital literacy. Through improvement, a user can read, write, find, evaluate, and communicate information using digital platforms effectively.

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Comments

2 responses to “What is Digital Rhetoric? How does someone show digital literacy?”

  1. […] efficiently influence people into persuasion of an idea or concept,” which I have explained in my previous blog. Overall, writers learn how to use different new media if they wish to gain a bigger audience, they […]

  2. […] digital rhetoric. If you want to learn more about digital literacy and digital rhetoric, check out my blog. Additionally, new media allows for easier self-publication. This allows writers to create unique […]

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