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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

From the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric: website:

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Hume Writing Center invite proposals for the Ninth Biennial Feminisms and Rhetorics conference, to be held at Stanford University September 25-28, 2013. Our emphasis this year is on links, the connections between people, between places, between times, between movements. The conference theme—Linked: Rhetorics, Feminisms, and Global Communities—reflects Stanford’s setting in the heart of Silicon Valley, a real as well as virtual space with links to every corner of the globe. We aim for a conference that will be multi-vocal, multi-modal, multi-lingual, and inter-disciplinary, one in which we will work together to articulate the contours of feminist rhetorics. (more…)

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In this video Clay Shirky discusses how open source programmers channel social media technologies in ways that could, if thoughtfully and creatively adopted, bring about powerful changes in the way that democratic institutions work.  There are a number of features of this talk that should be of interest to argumentation theorists.  Students of pragma-dialectics and others who believe that disagreement is of central theoretical importance to argumentation theory, for instance, will find welcoming Shirky’s assertion that “The more ideas there are in circulation, the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with. More media always means more arguing.”  Also of interest for those of us interested in the intersection between argumentation theory and democratic theory is Shirky’s account of how the method of distributed version control used by early open source programmers enabled “cooperation without [top-down] coordination”. Perhaps most interesting, though, is Shirky’s description that changes in media bring about cultural changes largely by introducing new modes of argument.

Whether one agrees with everything Shirky says here or not, it is hard to disagree with the fundamental intuition that I think  lies underneath his points:  that argumentation is the core technology of democracy, and that improving democracy means attending, carefully and critically, to the modes in which we argue.

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“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing.  That’s voting.” — Robert Frost

In this article from the blog of the Walrus magazine, writer David Rusak nicely sums up the case that social media is increasingly taking over the way in which we communicate.

He writes:

Even in the unstructured, verbal medium of the comments field, with no built-in retweet button and no formal system logging the repetitions, we see a number of people avoiding using their own words in order to instead “cast a vote” for someone else’s. They deliberately represent themselves as part of a countable mass (in this case, of devoted fans), rather than as an individuated person with a novel point of view. I have no idea how widespread this particular trend is, but I think it exemplifies an ongoing shift in the way online communication is done…What’s more, Facebook’s Like button has now allowed us to do away with much commenting, allowing one-click responses that require the least engagement possible.

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