Why a Rhetoric of Wikis?

Why a handbook?


That a wiki supports dialogic, collaborative, essayistic writing doesn't mean that it directs writing that way, or that it provides any control of it - no more than blank sheets of paper demand that writers organize their writing in neat outlines. The blank sheet of paper can be used as readily for a pencil sketch as a formal paragraph or a sonnet: the paper itself doesn't provide much guidance, only limits.

Direction and control come from wiki writers. And so the need for a handbook and a rhetoric of wiki to provide ways of thinking about writing on a wiki, and to guide practices. At its most general level, this handbook and rhetoric of wiki addresses how to use the resources and constraints of the wiki to support composition. It discusses familiar territory - invention, drafting, formatting, outlining, revising, editing - and discusses how to adapt and apply these to the newer space of a wiki.

But it also covers new, less familiar territory: Topic naming, link text, multiple structures, DocumentMode, ThreadMode, and refactoring... and discusses how writers use these to their advantage in composing.

Because of the public nature of the wiki writing space, a handbook and rhetoric of wiki needs to address the social aspects of working on a text with others. On wikis, these social / rhetorical conventions tend to develop from inside the wiki, as a set of local collaborative customs. Composing Processes Evolve From Inside

Techniques and Figures
This handbook and rhetoric of wiki writing addresses both efficient writing techniques and effective wiki-writing: adapting rhetorical moves and figures and tropes and styles to achieve what you want to achieve on a wiki.

Wikis are not linear print documents; pages evolve constantly. And the drive into constant development, the characteristics of the web page, text elements, and the nature of the knowledge on a wiki make use of a different set of rhetorical moves than print.

While writing in a wiki means traditional stages of writing (designed for paper) break down, it's useful to have a sense of what you're doing at moments in the process and how to think about the writing space to help guide and manage that doing. So we can start with traditional sense and model of writing.

What a wiki writer has to learn are strategies for
* invention: starting and keeping the page moving: InventionInWiki
* drafting : DraftingInWiki
* refactoring: RevisingInWiki
* editing

These are generally covered in the wiki's StyleGuide?, developed over time by wiki participants.

[add !!! Rhet Strats of Process The thing is that writers - co-writers - need to keep their thinking visible to others as pages evolve. So, wiki writers have developed set of rhetorical strategies for doing so.

[!!! Rhet Strats of Effective Presentation We can separate process from presentation in print writing and on some wikis, but in the kind of wiki we're looking at, we're not.]

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