Posts Tagged ‘Collin Gifford Brooke’

Perspective and Style

October 10th, 2009 No comments

In Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media author Collin Gifford Brooke invites readers to rethink the traditional canons.  He explains that the canons are not static and that they should be rethought in light of new technologies.  I was particularly interested in Brooke’s discussion of perspective and the canon style and how they influence our understanding of new media and literacy.

Brooke states that “style has probably been the most productive canon for explorations of new media” (p. 113).  He explains the important relationship between media and style and states that “scholarship has focused on the inextricable combination of visual and verbal elements within new media” (p. 113). Brooke asks us to “consider what style might look like when we consider it in terms of interfaces rather than static texts” (p. 114).  He explains that new media interfaces use the canon style to change our perspective on the text.  They “help us move from the abstracted, single perspective of the reader of a static text or the viewer of a painting to the multiple and partial perspectives necessary for many forms of new media” (p. 114).  Brooke suggests that we “restore style to its place in our ecology of practice” (p. 114).  He suggests that we “move style away from its place in an Aristotelian ecology of code” (p. 126).

He points us to “the desktop metaphor in most graphical user interfaces” as an example (p. 133). Brooke asks the question of whether “the desktop is something that we look at or through” and concludes that the answer depends on “where we look from” and our “level of comfort with the various metaphors operating there” (p.134).  Another example he uses is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, World of Warcraft.  Brooke explains that the interface in this game changes depending on the level of the player and the function they are trying to perform.

Brooke offers readers some background on the understanding of rhetoric and perspective.  He does this to provide a “backdrop against which we might begin to explore what art historian James Elkins describes as the practice of perspective” (p.123).  This practice he describes as having been “subsumed by mathematical perspective and one that will prove important for reconceiving style for the interface” (p. 123).

Brooke goes on to invite us to look at metaphor.  He prefers Aristotle’s use of the word and states that using metaphor in that way “reveals some interesting connections- connections suggested both in the transmedial development of perspective and in more recent attempts to gather media under the umbrella of polymorphic or multiliteracies” (p. 125). Aristotle defined metaphor as a “movement (epiphora) or displacement, from one term to another” (p. 125).

Brooke goes on to talk about the other canons and how they should be revisited with new media in mind.  He ends the book on a humorous note with a list of questions that he attempts to answer about the book’s purpose and what research is still needed in this area among other things.

Rethinking the Canons

October 2nd, 2009 No comments

Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media by Collin Brooke inspires us to look at text and rhetoric especially the canons in the light of new media.  The rhetorical canons; invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, Brooke describes as being “more like a disciplinary heirloom then they are part of our core intellectual inheritance” (29).  This is because while those involved in rhetoric and composition view the canons, invention and style as crucial they may not place as much emphasis on memory and delivery.  The canons memory and delivery while once of great concern have evolved into less importance.  The canon arrangement “falls somewhere in between, embodying the necessity of discursive forms, but occasionally lapsing into formulae like the notorious five paragraph theme” (29) The canons are an inherent part of our understanding of rhetoric so much so that much of the time they go unacknowledged.

With the advent of digital media our understanding of the cannons needs to evolve.  Brooke points us to “Hypertext is Dead” as a prime example.  “Hypertext is Dead” was published by the electronic journal Kairos and is an “electronic essay containing the positions and ideas of some of the leading figures in the specialty of computers and writing and focusing specifically (as the title indicates) on the vitality of hypertext” (1).  “Hypertext is Dead” passed though three layers the town hall conversation format, the online component, and the worthiness of academic publication and while it is not the only work of this type one thing that does make it “distinctive is the fact that all three of these layers are made explicit on the front page of the essay: Its emulation of the “ideal conference session” supplies the motive behind its preservation” (3). Brooke explains that the notions of “Hypertext is Dead” are “symptomatic of broader changes in the range of informational, communicative, and expressive potentials embodied in new media” (5).

Brooke explains that we need to “locate the canons more centrally” within our understanding of rhetoric and composition (35).  Previously we have used then as a guide to composing written text.  However Brooke suggests that we should rethink the canons as an ecology and that in this understanding the canons would supply a set of categories that are somehow not static or limited, delineations that preserve the dynamic flexibility of an ecological model while providing us with some ability to distinguish one practice from another” (42). In addition to the canons Brooke offers the “classic trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic” (42).

Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media is a call to action, among other things, for education to change and adapt to the introduction of new media.  Brooke urges universities specifically English departments to emphasis this understanding in faculty and the knowledge they provide to students.

On tags and trends

October 2nd, 2009 No comments

Collin Gifford Brooke uses his fourth chapter of Lingua Fracta: Towards a rhetoric of new media to explain his observed connection between patterns and arrangement. At the chapter’s end, he discusses the importance of the “tagcloud” as a new media device. Blogs contain tags, words that considered relevant to either theme or the blog’s contents, that help readers find what they are interested in. The tagcloud collects these tags, displaying for the reader the frequency at which certain terms are identified in posts. By viewing the collection as a whole, readers are able to identify trends, whether changing or constant, that show patterns of interest. Some tags may only remain visible in the cloud for a short period time, signifying the writer’s shift in interest.

Our blog’s tagcloud shows “literacy,” “blogs,” and “technolgy” as some of the more common themes and topics of our blog posts – not surprising, as most of our comments are reading responses to texts on these very subjects. While more terms and topics will be tagged as the semester progresses, it is likely that the patterns of leading tags will not shift.

Using Lev Manovich’s definition of a database as a collection of items on which a user can perform various operations, Brooke idenifies our tagcloud as a database. Readers are able to click terms they find relevant to their topics of interest in the tagcloud. Brooke also analyzes the development of “interactive databases” on sites such as, allowing the readers to tag photos and create tagclouds. In comparing the canons of print and hypertext, he says that “[tagclouds] open up a number of possibilities that take the canon of arrangement beyond the sequentiality of print texts” (112). Developed hypertext has empowered readers with the abilities of arrangement and invention – abilities limited to only the author in printed texts.