Multicolored Software codes

The Strange World of Rhetorical study of Code




Throughout reading Brock’s “Toward the Rhetorical Study of Code” I would have to say I have left more confused about the rhetoric of coding than I did before I read this section. Although I know this is an academic paper it does not negate the fact that it was incredibly hard to decipher and understand the points that Brock was making. Despite not completely grasping the entirety of this section I did come away with certain ideas that may prove valuable information later on throughout the readings.

Coding and Rhetoric

Firstly, I learned more about what coding conceptually is. Coding can be another form of rhetoric and can have its genre and style through programming. This was knowledge I did not have before. This is because my perception of coding beforehand was that it was mainly composed of zeros and ones that I could not read, or that it was just computer language that could only be understood by a computer. There are different levels of coding such as high-level codes and low-level codes. There are also source codes and code files that are important within the rhetoric of coding as a whole.

High-Level Coding

Within high-level coding, this is mainly accessible by humans rather than machines. What this means is that coding is understandable to a human being as it is more aligned with the linguistic language that people are familiar with. However, this form of coding is difficult for machines to understand, my theory is that machines do not understand common language as humans do. For instance, computers do not understand slang the way humans do. Computers commanded to “freeze” the machines cannot understand that the command means “stop.”

Low-Level Coding

This is why low-level coding exists. This level of coding is something that machines will be able to understand thus, high-level codes must be translated into low-level codes for machines or software to function properly. In this aspect of rhetoric within coding, I understand that rhetoric becomes important for machines and digital software is like understanding the code properly and carrying out its proper functions. If the rhetoric was incorrect it could lead to miscommunication between the user and the machine or program itself.

But what is rhetorical coding? According to Brock, rhetorical code studies combine three different things which are rhetoric, software studies, and critical codes. All these aspects are an important part of what makes rhetorical coding studies important because it allows for a better understanding of how rhetoric encoding intertwined with each other and how they are both equally important within the realm of digital rhetoric. This also highlights that particular codes have their importance in rhetoric. An example of this would be code files. Code files are a source of rhetorical actions. This means the rhetoric used is focusing on software development. If the rhetoric within this file is not correctly used it might lead to malfunctions within the program itself. There are also source codes which readable set of operational commands written in any number of existing computer languages, created and stored as text files with language-specific syntax.

Digital Rhetoric

The most interesting aspect of this reading was Brock’s exploration of the term “Digital Rhetoric” which I have explored within my posts as well. Within my definition, I defined it as the use of tools within the digital space to efficiently influence people into persuasion of an idea or concept. Within Brock’s exploration of the term, he brings in multiple academic views of the term including Eyman, Lanham, and Losh’s outline. This demonstrates how diverse this term can truly be within digital media and digital forms including coding.


Overall, this section of Brock’s “Toward the Rhetorical Study of Code” was quite difficult to grasp exactly what Brock was trying to convey. This was mainly because the diction used was not easily accessible as well as Brock’s assuming that his readers knew each term he included within this section. But, there were some takeaways from this section that I did understand and I did make the connection between rhetoric and coding and how they are both equally important within the digital space.


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