Digital rhetoric includes different alternatives to the term, but maybe it all comes down to the term 'electric'.

Alternatives of Digital Rhetoric

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Digital rhetoric and its definition continues to be challenged by scholars as years pass. Yet, there are many who are interested in it but would prefer to reference other terms. Rather than use ‘digital rhetoric’, some scholars assign a different name to reference the theory. There are three main alternatives included in Doug Eyman’s “Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric”. The three alternatives are electric rhetoric, computational rhetoric, and technorhetoric.

Electric Rhetoric

Referencing Welch and her use of electric rhetoric is both limited and too broad of a term. Limited because of her main focus on print literacy and broad because of the word ‘electric’. Electric can refer to anything under the category, making it difficult to pinpoint a definition when using it hand-in-hand with rhetoric. Welch herself defines electric rhetoric as “the new merger of the written and the oral, both now newly empowered and reconstructed by electricity and both dependent on print literacy” (Eyman). Eyman insists that using electric rhetoric as the alternative term isn’t correct. He states that it should go beyond print and orality when renaming digital rhetoric.

Computational Rhetoric

Computational rhetoric was created as a way to bridge “qualitative and quantitative/algorithmic approaches to humanities research” (Eyman). Though this term takes ideas from artificial intelligence it does carry issues. One of those issues is its “formal argumentation schema” (Eyman). This means that computational rhetoric simply refers to rhetoric as a means of an argument. The other issue with computational rhetoric is “the difficulty of representing complex systems purely algorithmically” (Eyman).

Technorhetoric

Technorhetoric is a term of rhetoric that builds on the rhetorics of technology and rhetoric as technology. The reason Eyman doesn’t enjoy the term ‘technorhetoric’ is simple. He believes that technorhetoric is simply a rough synonym for digital rhetoric.


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