Web Rhetorics for a Digital Age: The Medium AND the Message

By Jason Snart, College of Dupage


The following exercises are designed to get you thinking about the many different "writing situations" on the Web. You will also have the opportunity to write in these situations yourself.

• Situations   • Facebook Rhetorics   • Wiki, Twitter, Blog Rhetorics   • Choice   • Autobiography And Medium   • Interactivity   • Rhetoric Of "Community"   • Customizing   • Dynamic Content


Most people are familiar with the popular social networking Web sites Facebook and MySpace. You might even already have a Facebook or MySpace page yourself.

If you do not have a Facebook page of your own yet, go ahead and create one. It is free, and it doesn’t take long: www.facebook.com.

Note too that you can control the privacy settings for your Facebook page (under the Settings tab). These privacy settings let you control who can look at your Facebook page and who can contact you through Facebook.

Once you have set up your Facebook page, or if you already have one, take a few minutes to navigate through your Home, Profile, and Friends areas. Also, once you have signed up for a Facebook site, you can search and explore other Facebook pages.

Try to list as many different writing “situations” that you can find within your Facebook page. One obvious situation will be the basic e-mail feature that is part of Facebook. But what other writing situations can you discover?

Choose three different writing situations that you have found within a Facebook page and describe each one. Consider these kinds of questions:

Is there a length limit and (roughly) what is it?
Does the communication go to one specific individual? Or is the communication immediately “public”?
Is what you write meant to stand alone or is it meant to exist in relation to something else?
Finally, consider how your answers to these basic questions might indicate the way that the writing situation will determine what and HOW people write within these Facebook situations.

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