Rhetorical Situations and Twittering


Start a new page off your wiki name page titled RhetSitTwitterYourInitials

Go to a twitterer's home page.

or choose a tweeter you're following who is posting regularly. Don't choose anyone from class or anyone you know personally.

You'll need to log in to twitter to see all their messages.

Work with the tweeter's latest page and one previous. Use the tweeter's page rather than the page With Others. Print them out so you can refer to them. You'll also be copying and pasting tweets into your work as examples.

Messages that start @name are messages addressed to that twitterer.

Use the tweets as your texts to analyze, and the handout on the rhetorical situation as your search model. Create an extensive set of notes in which you describe and analyze the messages both individually, and as a whole. See what you can say about the elements of the rhetorical situations in this set of messages.

Work with the messages in the latest two pages. You can combine description and analysis here: the messages are brief, and the search model is pretty focused. Maintain the balcony view and the analytical stance rather than the gut reaction.

At the end of your notes, you'll want to characterize the two pages of tweets overall, but you can get there by way of description.

As you describe and analyze, watch for and draw out rhetorical patterns that the model of the rhetorical situation alerts you to.

Start by describing the general rhetorical situation of twitter. Twitterers, for instance, know who their audience is by seeing who's following, but is the audience in any situation mixed, multiple, themselves? They can tweet only some situations and not others. The way the forum is manifest is limited in twitter. The medium in twitter includes things like links, but the dimensions of the medium include conventions...

Copy and paste messages from the twitterer's page into your analysis as examples that you refer to.

Are there patterns or regularities in the elements of the rhetorical situations? In ways the messages are composed to suit the situation? Look, for instance, for occasions of exigence stemming from external circumstances, in the rhetor, or in the audience. Are you seeing occasions of kairos, to prepon,and to dynaton?

The consider patterns in the subjects of the messages. What are the subjects that the rhetor twitters about? What's missing?

Rather then focus on "the self," our focus is on the rhetor: the values, position, knowledge - the ethos - of the rhetor, as can be inferred from the tweets.

You're testing the range and limits of the search model to see if how it applies to twittering. Some elements of the particular rhetorical situation might not be inferable in any particular message. Fine. Note that. But consider multiple messages and you might be able to perceive patterns in the messages.

Your taks is not to analyze the rhetor but the messages. While we can say that the rhetor tends to tweet to his followers when he's on the train, we can't take that analysis back to personality or psychology without a theory that somehow links particular rhetorical choices with identity. We might be able to sketch an ethos as it's presented in tweets, but that's as close as we can get to the person fashioning the message.

Outside of practice with the rhetorical situation, you're also shooting for a set of insights concerning how the particulars of the twitter rhetorical situation and the twitter message interact: Are there regularities in the occasions that are tend to be addressed in particular ways?


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