Ethos, Trust, and the Rhetoric of Digital Writing in Scientific and Technical Discourse

Authored by: Laura J. Gurak

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138671362
eBook ISBN: 9781315518497
Adobe ISBN:


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To understand more fully the relationship of digital writing and rhetoric in scientific and technical discourse, we should begin by asking about the effect of the D on the W and the R. In other words, for all types of content (scientific, technical, or otherwise), how does “being digital” change what we already know about persuasive (rhetorical) written discourse? Elsewhere I have argued that speed and reach are two key concepts of digital writing and rhetoric that span different media types and different time periods but provide a critical explanatory frame from which to understand both the power and the problems of digital rhetorics (Gurak, Cyberliteracy ). In the age of social media, with new platforms emerging almost weekly, digital rhetoric has an even more powerful and complicated effect, including but not limited to the following: the flattening of traditional information and knowledge hierarchies; the democratization of information; citizen access to specialized information; the mix of visual and textual discourse; “echo chambers” that reflect and reinforce similar viewpoints and the ability of anyone with a mobile device and a Twitter feed to create what appear to be equivalent truths.

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