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


The Web used to be pretty static. It was a good place to collect information and provide it to many different users. In this sense, the Web was a lot like a traditionally printed book. Many different “readers” could all access the same content. However, customizable content is now much more the rule. This means that users can tailor a Web site to include, or to highlight, just the content that they are most interested in. There are even Web utilities whose sole purpose is to help users customize their own Web experiences.

For example, visit http://www.pageflakes.com.

This utility can act as a user’s home page on the Web. You’ll notice that Pageflakes actually “collects” a bunch of different pages together, displayed in separate windows that can be moved and organized to suit each user’s preference. Further, users can customize their Pageflakes page to include information and links to other sites.

Often, though, individual Web sites will themselves allow users to “customize” their experience, though options for what content to display is of course limited to what the Web site provides.

Consider this example (http://disney.go.com/index)

Choose the My Page link.

To what degree is this My Page customizable?
What motivates the creators of certain Web sites to provide opportunities for customized content to users?
Can you discover other examples of Web sites that allow users to customize content?

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