Morgan's Notes on Drafts

We are far too accustomed to the language of advice and preference in discussing links, while we avoid considerations of what the oft-repeated advice is based on. We no longer think about links or linking. We mimic, mouth, repeat what we have heard.

This project asks you to re-think links and linking not as a practitioner but more as an ethical philosopher addressing a broad public. To change the circumstances will change the prose, which will change what can be said.

Sketch of encomium


What it is

An encomium presents a subject as deserving public praise, and makes an argument for that unabashed, celebratory praise. Think the 5 minute speech you would give in praise of a person who just received a scholarship.

Text and images are overtly persuasive, and overtly persuasive in aim. It wears its heart on its sleeve - even announces its intent right up front.

It’s ceremonial, so figures of speech and middle-level formality of language are appropriate. Funny gifs probably get in the way of the formality. It uses epideictic prose.

It works on a social level: presents the subject from a knowledgeable or expert position to a receptive and thinking public of equally knowledgeable. Audience can be directly addressed.

It makes an argument: One that rises and falls, and that climaxes near the end. Silva Rhetoricae presents a school-book outline that can be used as a guide to inventing and organizing arguments. But the specifics of the argument make all the difference.

Because it is social, the encomium tends to make the underlying values of the argument overt. If you argue (explicitly or implicitly) that to lose a reader means to lose money and fame and fortune, then you’re basing your argument on those virtues of fame and fortune of the writer in the eyes of the reader. If you argue that a well-placed link helps a reader learn something significant, you’re basing your argument on the virtues of knowledge. If you’re arguing that pop-ups are evil, then you’re arguing against greed, and seeing the advertising pop-up as a contaminator of the virtues of links. An arguement for the speed and ease of a link might be based on efficiency - arguing that speed and ease are virtues in and of themselves, and what is hard and slow is bad. So anything that is hard and slow should be reduced or eliminated as a perversion of virtues. (See Amber’s arguments based on innovation, connection, and efficiency).

Random Advice

TO get started, consider yourself delivering a five minute speech to praise an award winner, presenting her as an exemplar of virtue.

Draw on examples from Price, Bernstein, elsewhere as evidence or states of virtue or stains on the virtue of links and linking.

Don't shilly-shally. Some would think … others might think … Say it: This is the way it is - and I shall demonstrate it!

Develop the arguments less than "as ifs" and more as states of what is. Epideictic prose is a prose concerned with the current state of things.

Convert advice, notes, use, to praise or blame cases or exempla: Advertising pop ups are a stain on the virtue of the link.

Once you frame up some virtues to work with, handling corruptions of those virtues might present themselves. Which is to say that stating the virtue should bring up the implications of practice, which you can then address further.

Which means this project can't be done well in a single pass - especially once you start considering headings, appropriate images, call-outs, and the like. Repeated passes over a number of sessions.

Motivate examples as examples of virtues - (see Ashley’s draft: list of examples)

26 Mar 2015

A few features have formed up in the new drafts.


These are not as present as they need to be: there is still some wishy-washyness, some sense of an undefined audience, some uncertainty about commitment to values. But they are developing.

As a result, the rhetorical effectiveness of the draft addressing an implied audience is becoming a significant criteria for evaluation. So, develop some of the features of rhetorical effectiveness further:

The interesting thing about writing an encomium is that it demands the creation of an implied rhetor that clearly holds sophisticated, rather than simplistic, values. Only when those values come clear does the encomium become effective.




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