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Digital Rhetoric

Updated on September 30, 2019
Dense Densyang profile image

Denise is a communication student, a poet and a book lover. She enjoys watching documentaries and film.

As the emergence of technology continues, the way people communicate has continually evolved as well. One particular concept that we are going to talk about is digital rhetoric. According to Zappen (2005) that this concept is at once exciting because it "holds promise of opening new vistas of opportunity for rhetorical studies and troublesome because it reveals the diffculties and the challenges of adapting a rhetorical tradition more than 2,000 years old to the conditions and constraints of the new digital media. Studying digital rhetoric shows how traditional rhetorical strategies function in digital spaces and how these strategies are being reconceived and reconfigured within the said spaces. As cited in Zappen's research, B.J. Fogg pointed how the computer itself functions as a persuasive technology. According to him, it is persuasive as a tool when it simplifies processes or customizes information. It is persuasive as a medium when it stimulates cause-and-effect processes, environments, or objects. It is persuasive as a social actor through a variety of physical, psychological, linguistic, and social cues. How do computers as persuasive technology achieve credibility (ethos) and evoke emotions (pathos)? Personally, as part of this new generation, I think that it achieves its credibility when most commonly it is known already or maybe it is an established institution. Secondly, when this sources of information coincides with other sources, may it be digital or the traditional one. It evokes emotions when somehow popular personalities or public figures talk, comment, or criticize it.

Basic Characteristics of Communication in Digital Spaces


It encourages an oral and casual style, but it also encourages redundant and repetitive postings.


It permits communication among multiple participants in an array of media and thus the development of communities of interest on a global scale; however, it does not include the benefits of gatekeeping.


Encourages experiments in self and gender identities, but it also problematizes notions of authorship and ownership and encourages "flaming" -----the hostile expression of strong emotions.


Permits closer access to other people with increased opportunities for discussion and feedback, but it also permits increased opportunities for intrusions upon personal privacy.

As Zappen (2005) has said, " these characteristics accord with our everyday experiences with digital communication technologies but raise some difficulties upon closer scrutiny.

As Zappen (2005) proposes that new media can be translated from one layer to another --- from a computer layer to a cultural layer-----so that the media database, for example, becomes a cultural form in its own right.


  • Zappen, J. (2005). Digital rhetoric: Toward and integrated theory


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