Rhetoric originally meant any form of persuasion using any form of communication. This term has since expanded to include many variables. Digital Rhetoric describes the use of the information being shared, this is not limited to being shared through technology alone. This term can involve the use of electronic and non-electronic means, hence the word “digital.” As mentioned in a previous post, “digital” or “digitalis” in Latin refers to one’s fingers and toes. Digital does not solely refer to computer technologies, it can refer to systems that use different elements to make up the original technical definition. As such, digital rhetoric can refer to any type of system that involves the use of one’s digits. For example, writing, braille, and morse code are all examples of digital systems that are non-electronic or non-computer based.
In Doug Eyman’s “Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric,” the section “Digital Rhetoric” further explains the meaning and history of the phrase. He brings up how theorists who focused on the rhetoric of digital text looked at hypertext. They would compare the usage of hypertextual work and printed text while examining linked electronic documents in digital networks. Hypertextual theorists found hypertext to be limited due to the range of theories used to explain what hypertext could accomplish. It was also found to be limited in its focus on how narrow the hypertext’s construction of a specific form could produce.
Despite this, Eyman makes it clear the theory is important to know. Mainly due to how theorists and scholars often combine hypertext theory and digital rhetoric. In addition, due to digital technology continuously advancing, hypertext work can include the use of new advances. For example, hypertext can include the use of media variables like audio, animations, and videos. This, in turn, credits and brings about other possibilities regarding digital rhetoric, in this case, the use of visual rhetoric.