Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee on the Web Today

Tim Berners-Lee’s "Manifesto on the State of the Web" begins with this: "The world wide web went live, on my physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1990. It consisted of one Web site and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer."

OK, so I stole the title "Manifesto" from other reviewers. The piece at issue here is actually an article titled "Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality," and ran in the recent issue of Scientific American.

But "Manifesto" sounds so much more dramatic, yes? And the issues raised in the article have very dramatic implications - though they are treated in a very measured and logical way by Berners-Lee. I find one of the most intriguing discussions is that of the balance of control and freedom. Simplistic, one-sided arguments are much more likely to generate passionate responses. But they are also much more likely to generate naive, short-sighted and generally useless responses. And, according to Berners-Lee, the issues are too important for such responses:
"The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity—and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending..."

You can find the article here: - Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Recursive Pizza?

My daughter sent me the link below, commenting on how often she finds stuff from "my world," that is to say, the world of rhetorical theory. Many of my colleagues would probably respond that such discoveries should be expected because "Everything is rhetorical!" And indeed, I am likely to agree with them. When my friends and I converse using only quoted lines from Seinfeld, Shakespeare or The Andy Griffith Show, I am quite aware of the rhetorical and cultural framing, self-identifying discourse communities, and terministic screens at work in our chit-chat.

But whudathunk Pizza as a ontological examination and revelation of social construction and community? well, This guy (John Riepenhoff), that's who. Enjoy the rhetorical cheesy goodness of this unusual blog entry...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Preston Tucker (and Marshall McLuhan)

Originally uploaded by RandyNickatNite
The Tucker! and what is that inscription above the car? Marshall McLuhan? You don't say. "The car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete." The techne of the car culture is integral to an understanding of the fabric of the general culture of "Americans."

Check out the "Tucker Club of America" here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Rhetorical consideration of Setting (According to John Stewart)

If indeed, rhetoric is anything like "finding the available means of persuasion in a given situation," (and let's assume, for the sake of argument, that it is something like that,) then some things are both obvious and important:
  • know who you are talking to (audience)
  • know the situation and setting of your communication (kairos)
  • know the network of cultural & communicative exchange of your audience (language)
It is sometimes easier to see how important these considerations are when they are done wrong, than it is to see when they are done right. For example, suppose you were to speak to a group of 11-year-old school kids - would you communicate the same as if you were speaking to a group of university faculty? No? I didn't think so.

You'd think this would be obvious. You'd be wrong.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Speaks to a Sixth-Grade Classroom
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorVancouverage 2010

You know how much 6th graders love to meet bureaucratic heads of various government departments....

A couple of "rules of thumb" for rhetorically sound communication:
1) Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.
2)Don't bring teleprompters to a middle school classroom.