Procedural vs. Digital Rhetoric: The Biggest Questions





Procedural Rhetoric? Rhetorical Code!? Who would’ve guessed?

In class, we’ve had what seems like a couple of thousand discussions where we talk ourselves through rhetorical topics. And it seems as though we will be going on forever.

Letters that are put together to convey communicational meaning. This is something we are well aware of. Coding is like any other language. Someone may write a line of code that, from there on, communicates to the computer to do a certain thing.

The Big Question: What Does It All Mean?

Unfortunately, it goes beyond just the maker and the computer.

Take the example of Jerz (2007) and his study of the source code from a 1970s video game. He wanted to understand how, as it states, “specific lines of code in its files communicated significant meaning to the game player…” (Brock, 22). As anyone would suspect, in those lines of code existed procedural rhetoric! This is a great example because most of us, at least I hope, have been active participants or viewers of video gameplay. As we play a game, we are willingly giving in to the glow of the game and following the rules of the set gameplay mechanics. We are being persuaded to stay on course, and that is what the makers intended.

Now time for the bigger picture question: is procedural rhetoric a part of, or distinct from, digital rhetoric?

This, of course, is a tricky question because the discussion of rhetoric in digital spaces is already so straining.

I believe that procedural rhetoric is a kind of subset of digital rhetoric. Why? Well, because it focuses on using different persuasive mechanisms to persuade players in digital spaces. Digital rhetoric covers communication strategies in digital environments from a broader perspective. Hence, it falls directly under digital rhetoric’s giant umbrella.

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