A landmark volume that explores the interconnected nature of technologies and rhetorical practice
Rhetorical Machines addresses new approaches to studying computational processes within the growing field of digital rhetoric. While computational code is often seen as value-neutral and mechanical, this volume explores the underlying, and often unexamined, modes of persuasion this code engages. In so doing, it argues that computation is in fact rife with the values of those who create it and thus has powerful ethical and moral implications. From Socrates’s critique of writing in Plato’s Phaedrus to emerging new media and internet culture, the scholars assembled here provide insight into how computation and rhetoric work together to produce social and cultural effects.
This multidisciplinary volume features contributions from scholar-practitioners across the fields of rhetoric, computer science, and writing studies. It is divided into four main sections: “Emergent Machines” examines how technologies and algorithms are framed and entangled in rhetorical processes, “Operational Codes” explores how computational processes are used to achieve rhetorical ends, “Ethical Decisions and Moral Protocols” considers the ethical implications involved in designing software and that software’s impact on computational culture, and the final section includes two scholars’ responses to the preceding chapters. Three of the sections are prefaced by brief conversations with chatbots (autonomous computational agents) addressing some of the primary questions raised in each section.
At the heart of these essays is a call for emerging and established scholars in a vast array of fields to reach interdisciplinary understandings of human-machine interactions. This innovative work will be valuable to scholars and students in a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to rhetoric, computer science, writing studies, and the digital humanities.