Length: 800+ words
For this assignment, you will be doing a rhetorical analysis of a pre-World-Wide-Web digital artifact. While there are plenty of options available to you, the easiest way to find such artifacts is on what is called a BBS: a text-based Bulletin Board System. You can find a comprehensive list of those still in operation at http://telnetbbsguide.com (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Explore some of these in class and outside of it, and decide on a particular BBS to use and a particular artifact on that BBS. This can include, but is not limited to:
a BBS “door” game
Discussions on the BBS system
Artwork (usually called ANSI Art or BBS Art)
A certain document or file available for download
The BBS interface as a whole
Note that if you were born after the internet took over the world, it will not be intuitive to figure out how to use a BBS! This is partially because the way it operates is tied to a specific technological paradigm, while the way we perceive the world is tied to another (newer) paradigm. Something as simple as the lack of a mouse during the main era of the BBS fundamentally influences how it operates and how texts are presented on it–which is precisely the point of this assignment! All digital artifacts are constrained, defined and yet also freed by the technologies that shape them, and that’s what you want to investigate here. Some questions in this regard that you might ask as part of your analysis are:
How is the artifact shaped by the technological limitations it had, as a text?
What is the cultural context that shaped the artifact?
What kinds of writing are involved in its production and dissemination, and how is that writing affected by technological constraints?
Additionally, you want to focus a lot on the visual elements provided by the digital artifact, so be sure to refer back to Wysocki’s “Multiple Media of Texts.” Eyman’s first chapter of Digital Rhetoric also outlines specific elements worth exploration. The classical canons of rhetoric, for instance: Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory and Delivery. He also identifies more rhetorical aspects of a digital text: cohesion, coherence, intentionality, acceptability, and more. Be sure to refer to these elements in your analysis!