Lingua Fracta:  Towards a Rhetoric of New Media

Collin Gifford Brooke

Chapter Three:  Proairesis

  • In this chapter Brooke hopes to demonstrate what he calls “proairetic invention” or “a focus on the generation of possibilities, rather than their elimination until all but one are gone and closure is achieved” (86).
  • Brooke recognizes the tension between social models of invention in rhetoric and composition and the conception of the solitary author romanticized by literary studies.
  • Hermeneutic invention “relies on the relative sturdiness of a final object and the negotiation of meanings within it.  In other words, much of our theorizing about invention in rhetoric and composition remains bound by the particular media for which we invent, and for the most part we invent (and ask our students to invent) for the printed page” (68).
  • Brooks notes that the act of invention involves both the practices of reading and writing simultaneously (and the role of authorial power wrapped up in those processes); however, those actions don’t have to be on a zero-sum continuum.  In other words, in the act of invention, the process of reading 75% of the time doesn’t necessarily lead to a 25% writing allocation; rather, the reader’s own motivation is the wildcard because it (might) push against the political structure of the text itself.
  • The function of the hermeneutic – in Barthes’ text S/Z as well as in the search engine’s like Google – is to virtualize a situation to highten our expectations (and narrative pleasure) so that when closure is achieved we are content with the new “tidy unity” we’ve been presented (76).
  • The function of the proairetic is to leave a system open – social bookmarking systems like and cite-u-like provide open systems where reader/writers are able to not only catalogue information, but also:
    • Make bookmarking available from any location with a connection
    • Provide additional information (tags, notes) on sources and
    • Make the bookmarks available to a large group of people.
  • In doing these things, SBS “draw connections between users, pages, and tags. . . that generates an associational network of sources “endlessly proliferating. . . according to no overarching principle of rational design” (83).  This is characteristic of the type of invention Brooke imagines for new media – proairetic invention.

Wikinomics:  How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

Tapscott and Williams

Chapter Nine:  The Wiki Workplace

  • This chapter highlights how the “Geek Squad” – Best Buy’s team of “geekish” computer technicians” provide a model for collaborative virtual environments as workplace communication tools.
  • This model preferences bottom-up collaboration strategies that highlight the knowledge of the workers on the front lines rather than a dated managerial capitalism.
  • As the authors note, “We are shifting from closed and hierarchichal workplaces with rigid employment relationships to increasingly self-organized, distributed, and collaborative human capital networks that draw knowledge and resources from inside and outside the firm” (240).
  • The new manager should quit trying to establish an agenda for moving forward and recognize the agenda of the workers and serve it (243).  This sounds pretty good, but only to a degree.
  • A new collaborative ethos is present in a generation of workers nursed on “instant messaging, chat groups, playlists, p2p, and online multiplayer video games” (247).  New management would do well to adopt some of the processes.
  • Lots of binarization:  Older generations preferred “value, loyalty, seniority, security, and authority” while the N-Gen’s norms reflect “creativity, social connectivity, fun, freedom, speed, and diversity” (248).
  • Most workers actually spend time fixing exceptions rather than working on regularized activities.
  • The new economic model for the US will resemble the small, incremental patching practices that software companies undertake – rapid incremental innovation, over and over and over again (256).
  • This new wiki world will change the ways we think about:
    • Teams – self organized
    • Time allocation – provide time for independent creative products
    • Decision making – adopting a crowd mentality
    • Resource allocation – using demand based pricing structures instead of static pricing.
    • Corporate communications – using personable, less-managed forms of communication like blogs to allow the CEO to be more personable (really?  I think this will date fast).
  • The new workplace will also change a couple of other things:
    • New workplaces – digital home spaces and on the road instead of at the office building.
    • New economics of work – the distributed capitalism that Zuboff and Maxmin hint at.
    • New sources of identity and security – our new sources of identity and security will come from the relationships within our communities of practice with like-minded peers.
    • New intermediaries in talent market – get ready to farm yourself through temp agencies a lot in the future.
  • From Chapter 10:
    • Changes in the wikiworld are the result of:
      • Peer producers apply open source principles to create products madeof bits—from operating systems to encyclopedias.
  • Ideagoras give companies access to a global marketplace of ideas, innovations,and uniquely qualified minds that they can use to extend their problem-solving capacity.
      • Prosumer communities can be an incredible source of innovation if companies give customers the tools they need to participate in value creation.
      • The New Alexandrians are ushering in a new model of collaborative science that will lower the cost and accelerate the pace of technological progress in their industries.
      • Platforms for participation create a global stage where large communities of partners can create value and, in many cases, new businesses in a highly synergistic ecosystem.
      • Global plant floors harness the power of human capital across borders and organizational boundaries to design and assemble physical things.
      • Wiki workplaces increase innovation and improve morale by cutting across organizational hierarchies in all kinds of unorthodox ways.

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