A view of the Earth from space. There are many yellow lights present on the surface. Some of these lights form large clusters, and these clusters are connected by thin lines of lights.

Hypertext: How a Rhetorical Choice can Equal Literacy

We’ve all seen hyperlinks. They’re everywhere on the internet, whether you’re looking at recipes, or scrolling through your social media feed. You probably don’t even think twice about their presence on the web.

But what is a hyperlink’s purpose? In the digital space known as the world wide web, a hyperlink acts as a shortcut between webpages. In my last sentence, I used a hyperlink to direct back to last week’s post where I defined the word digital. Because I used the word digital, I included this link for the convenience of those who may not be privy to the context in which I am using the word.

By using a hyperlink, I have created hypertext. This is a rhetorical choice in my web design, and by making that choice, I am demonstrating my digital literacy.

Let’s Slow Down

If you’re anything like me from a week ago, you have no idea what half of that means. Over the last two weeks, my class has been engaging in lengthy discussions defining many terms. Digital, Digital Literacy, and Digital Rhetoric were the main points of contention. We have also read several excerpts from Doug Eyman’s work “Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric”. I can’t put everything we have read or discussed in this post. If I did that, it would most likely take up several pages, and that’s not the point of this post. I can, however, include my abridged definitions based on all the information I have absorbed.

Digital Rhetoric

Rhetoric is commonly understood to be the art of persuasion. The conclusion our class came to was that rhetoric was the choices one makes to influence others, whether this be in their words, or other aspects of their presentation. Therefore, Digital Rhetoric is this same concept applied to digital spaces.

Every element of design on a webpage is a rhetorical choice. These elements all convey certain messages to the viewer. Certain rhetorical choices in a digital space could be the difference between a webpage being taken seriously or not.


Hypertext is the network of media created when one piece mentions another. An academic journal that mentions another in a citation is helping to create hypertext. This concept is not only limited to print sources. Webpages, images, videos, and more can all be interconnected in hypertext.

Digital Literacy

Knowing how to use a computer is one thing, but having digital literacy is another. By the end of our class discussion, the consensus we reached was that digital literacy is the knowledge of how to utilize all digital tools available, or at the very least being able to adapt to them if they are new and unknown.

Hyperlinks are Literate Choice

So how does the use of hyperlinks on a webpage demonstrate digital literacy? As I previously mentioned, hypertext is the network of connections between texts, whether those be analog or digital texts. When dealing with printed, analog media, the hypertext created between texts is not as plainly obvious. You would have to actively search for the other texts connected in the network.

An advantage of digital media is the ability to create hypertext with just a few clicks. In a digital space, the entire network of connected texts can be directly linked. Instead of having to manually comb through a library’s index to find an article mentioned in a journal’s citations, one click can send you directly to the source of the information.

Hyperlinks are a rhetorical choice you can only make in the digital space. The lack of hyperlinks on a page won’t necessarily take away from any information present, but the addition of them certainly adds functionality and credibility. By implementing hyperlinks, you demonstrate your mastery of the medium. The inclusion of hyperlinks demonstrates digital literacy.


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