Multicolored Software codes

Code and Procedural Rhetoric

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Previously, I compared traditional and new media. Today, we take a look at code.

As with much of everything I discuss in these blogs, code is rhetorical. It possesses three characteristics: rhetorical qualities in its source code, discourse, and various contexts. I took a couple of coding classes in both high school and college, specifically in the Java coding language. Code promotes communication and interaction between both people and machines. There are choices referred to as “if-then-else” statements which execute different functions depending on the decision made by the user. This allows for more interaction between the person and the machine and a more complex system of communication. Programmers write code to tell a computer what to do and the computer executes the actions which prompts other people to carry out the specific action. The Internet is all made up of code and it allows us to communicate with one another across all digital spaces.

Bogost combined code and rhetoric to come up with the concept of procedural rhetoric. This process involved media instructing the user on how to use that piece of media. Video games use procedural rhetoric by giving the player tutorials on the controls and giving practice on how to achieve the functions of the game. This same rhetoric can be seen on websites and is persuasive in that websites can persuade users to sign up for newsletters or make an account if they want to proceed with reading the article that is blocked by this subscription prompt.


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