By Mr R E Stewart
The essays during this publication learn where of electronic communications or "rhetoric" in smooth tradition. They recommend that, just like the printing revolution ahead of it, the net is shaping tectonic cultural stream, yet is at present stuck among conventional technocratic methods of considering, and the extra unpredictable terrain of human behaviour.
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Additional info for A new rhetoric: Essays on using the internet to communicate
Instead they begin at the sharp end of trying to communicate – not always successfully – using the bewildering range of digital tools now available. For the last eight years I have managed online communications at a national government agency, an experience which, for more than one reason, can induce light-headedness. So if the thoughts I have set out give the impression of vertigo, this might be why. It also means they are based on a heady cocktail of workaday interest, and moments of sheer panic at how to make sense out of an area of rapidly changing professional practice.
To illustrate this simply, suppose I have some interest in marmalade. I might go to Google, and – without adopting a particularly discriminating approach – I might just type in the word “Marmalade”. 3 seconds I am confronted with over 18 million links to web pages around the world, that might (possibly) be relevant to my interest. 18 millions web pages (of whatever quality and relevance) goes way beyond my ability to assimilate them (even just for quality and relevance). Google, acutely alive to the needs of those searching, doesn’t simply match search terms to web pages.
People of a certain generation scowled. , at which point the world’s radio 2 listeners suddenly got interested. Twitter and tweeting has been on the rise ever since. This brief history is a significant development in the wider kingdom of content, because it shows that technologies become most important when they are adopted by the people who care least about them. Or, to express this differently, they become most important when they are put to human rather than technical use. In the last ten years or so, as the blind perfidy of human intelligence recognises that there is something useful about the internet while remaining equally baffled by it, those who create websites have simply had to respond accordingly if they are to compete.