Monday, September 29, 2008

Lingua Fracta: Collin Brooke discusses Ecology

Brooke, C. (2008). "Lingua Fracta: Towards a rhetoric of New Media" - Chapter 2 in a book forthcoming: Hampton Press

The trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic should be rethought as layered ecologies because "The elaborate dance of competition, cooperation, juxtaposition, and remediation that characterizes our contemporary information and communication technologies has rendered obsolete some of our most venerable models for understanding today's rhetorical practices" (1). Ecologies are constantly changing and fluctuating to create and recreate balance. They are hybrid and intertwined.

Five canons of traditional, classic rhetoric are invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. The three proofs are ethos, logos and pathos. The web makes us reconsider these, in particular because it "resuscitated the question of delivery" We may need more for delivery with visually rich media.

Brooke notes "ecology" works because an ecosystem is in constant motion like the web. Noting that at conferences more than usual texts are being discussed and read, it seems logical that more should be invented from writers within such surroundings. Keeping weblogs, or instantaneous places for writers to write, seems appropriate and a good use of time.

Brooke suggests a more recent trivium: code, practice, and culture. Code is comprised not only of grammar but includes "visual, aural, spatial, and textual elements, as well as programming codes" (17). The shift moves away from what a student is to master and into an ecology where one is surrounded by and practices within it (noting that language is only one of the media forms within). Cultural refers to the interfaces of interpersonal relations, competing ideologies, and multiple contexts that any one exchange can create. "...acts intervene simultaneously at several levels" (18).

Overall, I follow Brooke's conversation here and feel it parallels a lot the ecological arguments made by Yong Zhao discussed earlier on this blog. The rhetorical conversations rooted in academic traditions are somewhat new to me even though I've been teaching writing for several years successfully without the discourse for what I was actually doing. I keep thinking back to the piece I wrote for Arts Based Research Methodology called "Before It Had a Name." So much of what I achieved as a practitioner existed without fancier names for it. It makes me question the power-play of knowledge as it intersects between k - 12 schools and Universities. K - 12 schools are responsible for 100% of America's youth, where as college/universities only contend with 30%. Is education, then, all in how one uses their rhetorical skills?

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