Aerial view of a highway.

Digital Rhetoric: How to use Digital Tools to Persuade an Audience




Refresher on Rhetoric

Rhetoric is a term many of us have heard throughout our academic careers. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, rhetoric is, “The art of using language effectively so as to persuade or influence others…” During my high school years, we were focused on the three rhetorical devices: ethos, logos, and pathos. Simply put, ethos appeals to ethics, logos appeals to logic, and pathos appeals to emotion. All three devices are used throughout speech and writing in order to persuade an audience. It wasn’t until recently that I learned of Kairos, a rhetorical device that appeals to the timelessness of an argument. That being said, rhetoric and rhetorical devices have been around for centuries. Recently however, digital rhetoric has come to the table.

Digital Rhetoric

When digital tools come into the picture, rhetoric becomes more complex. Digital tools allow us to persuade others with hypertexts, images and videos. Not to mention, simple things such a font, and background color help persuade audiences.

One of the most fascinating aspects of digital rhetoric is the invention of the hypertext. In Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice, Doug Eyman quotes the work of George Landow, “In contrast to print technology, which foregrounds the physical separateness of each text, hypertext reifies the connections between works and thus presents each work as fundamentally connected to others.” (pg. 25). Hypertexts allow the audience to see the connection between works. It allows the audience to easily access outside works quoted throughout a text. Ultimately, helping to further push a writers rhetoric.

Moving forward, images and videos help persuade, and further push a message. However, it is important to use the right images and videos. A distasteful image or video can have the opposite effect. For example, I chose a neon, aerial view shot of a highway for this blog post. I made this decision because I discuss hypertexts in this blog post. Highway help link point A to point B, similar to how hypertexts link outside ideas to your overall message. If I chose a random image, for instance a sad puppy, that wouldn’t make much sense. That image would work for an ASPCA advertisement but not an undergraduates blog post on digital rhetoric. The same logic applies to videos. If I added a video of How to Link to a Page in WordPress, that would be useful. Oh look, see what I did there?


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