Analyzing Wikipedia
This unit uses Wikipedia.com to demonstrate ways of engaging in
rhetorical analyses of visual and digi...
Analyzing Wikipedia
The Rhetorical Situation
Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
Speaker: Anonymous, collaborative writers.
Contributors are not necessarily experts in their field
Rather, the text’s etho...
Audience:
•Receives 684 million visitors/year
•Holds 10,000,000 articles in 250 languages
•Free to view
•Is ranked among t...
The purpose of Wikipedia is to
encourage ”the growth,
development and distribution of free,
multilingual content, and to p...
The function of
Wikipedia changes
with the user, as
Sonja Foss tells us
(215).
For some users,
the function is to
provide ...
Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their
screen and temporal arrangements, c...
Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their
screen and temporal arrangements, c...
“What order is reinforced by a design, and what designs give us chances to re-order?”
(Wysocki “Monitoring Order”)
“What order is reinforced by a design, and what designs give us chances to re-order?”
(Wysocki “Monitoring Order”)
This li...
Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their
screen and temporal arrangements, c...
Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience
engagement/participation (Hocks 63...
Not a permanent part of
Wikipedia, this call for donations
nevertheless supports the ethos
of collaborative, grassroots
re...
History tab allows users
to read—and return the
article to the state of—all
previous iterations of any
article.
Audience S...
Call for citations demonstrates
desire for reliability, a touchstone
for accuracy and credibility. This
also nods to schol...
Linked contents allows quick
scanning and navigation. It also
develops an ethos of order and
control, suggesting a hierarc...
Hyperlinks to related
articles allows for
audience interaction
with text
Audience Stance: the way the author creates an et...
Ubiquitous edit links confirm
the ethos of collaborative
knowledge building
Audience Stance: the way the author creates an...
Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions
like those of print, graphic design, f...
Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions
like those of print, graphic design, f...
Table of Contents
conforms with standard
book-printing practice,
allowing for manageable
and familiar browsing
Transparenc...
Blue text perpetuates the
HTML standard for
hyperlinks, supporting an
established convention of
hypertext
Transparency: Th...
Footnote citations follow a standard
academic format for research writing
in print form. (The addition of
hyperlink mixes ...
Wikipedia’s frame-within-a-
frame interface follows fairly
pervasive conventions for
many Websites, allowing
meta-site nav...
Hybridity: Refers to the interplay between the visual and the verbal in one constructed,
heterogeneous semiotic space (Hoc...
Icons pervasive to all of Wikipedia’s pages provide
site-wide cohesiveness. The site’s visual metaphor
—the globe being bu...
A frugal approach to images (except for
scientific diagrams and charts)
establishes the staid, text-based
encyclopedic ton...
Analyzing Wikipedia
A series of questions designed to help students conduct similar
analysis of Wikipedia and other digita...
Works Cited
Black, Erik. “Wikipedia and Academic Peer Review: Wikipedia as a Recognised
Medium?”Online Information Review ...
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Analyzing wikipedia haley

  1. 1. Analyzing Wikipedia This unit uses Wikipedia.com to demonstrate ways of engaging in rhetorical analyses of visual and digital rhetoric. Some of the terms originate from classical rhetorical analysis; others are specific to analysis of multi-modal forms.
  2. 2. Analyzing Wikipedia
  3. 3. The Rhetorical Situation Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
  4. 4. Speaker: Anonymous, collaborative writers. Contributors are not necessarily experts in their field Rather, the text’s ethos is constructed by the site’s policy of openness, neutrality, and its extremely high number of viewers and editors. The Rhetorical Situation Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
  5. 5. Audience: •Receives 684 million visitors/year •Holds 10,000,000 articles in 250 languages •Free to view •Is ranked among the 20 most popular websites in the world (Black 76) The Rhetorical Situation Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
  6. 6. The purpose of Wikipedia is to encourage ”the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge.” (Wikimedia Foundation “Home”) The Rhetorical Situation Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
  7. 7. The function of Wikipedia changes with the user, as Sonja Foss tells us (215). For some users, the function is to provide an outlet for developing and distributing information But for others, Wikipedia is solely a place to find information. This user-based concept of function perhaps explains the conflicting relationships that different users have with Wikipedia. The Rhetorical Situation Informed by Aristotle, Burke, Foss
  8. 8. Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their screen and temporal arrangements, colors, typography, and use of photography—than in their verbal” (Wysocki “Seeing the Screen” 601)
  9. 9. Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their screen and temporal arrangements, colors, typography, and use of photography—than in their verbal” (Wysocki “Seeing the Screen” 601) Arial typeface, a sans-serif spin-off from Helvetica, denotes modernism, transparency, neutrality, and rationality—all highly valued qualities of fact- bearing resources (Helvetica: The Documentary)
  10. 10. “What order is reinforced by a design, and what designs give us chances to re-order?” (Wysocki “Monitoring Order”)
  11. 11. “What order is reinforced by a design, and what designs give us chances to re-order?” (Wysocki “Monitoring Order”) This limit over design reinforces the transparency of the interface. By standardizing the visual design, Wikipedia suggests that form is not intrinsically tied to content. Additionally, the format reflects Wikipedia’s desire for authority. Standardized page designs limit the capacity for redesign in all Wikipedia articles. Thus, Wikipedia limits design creation by its contributors. Such standardization is one of the only ways in which the site actively limits its contributors’ capacity for creation.
  12. 12. Design: “The argumentative work […] is contained more in their visual structures—their screen and temporal arrangements, colors, typography, and use of photography—than in their verbal” (Wysocki “Seeing the Screen” 601) Design analysis informs many of the following slides as they work through analytical terms, such as hybridity and transparency
  13. 13. Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  14. 14. Not a permanent part of Wikipedia, this call for donations nevertheless supports the ethos of collaborative, grassroots research produced by and for the everyday Internet user. Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  15. 15. History tab allows users to read—and return the article to the state of—all previous iterations of any article. Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  16. 16. Call for citations demonstrates desire for reliability, a touchstone for accuracy and credibility. This also nods to scholarly conventions and cultural expectations of authorship and ownership. Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  17. 17. Linked contents allows quick scanning and navigation. It also develops an ethos of order and control, suggesting a hierarchy of the information’s importance and chronology. Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  18. 18. Hyperlinks to related articles allows for audience interaction with text Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  19. 19. Ubiquitous edit links confirm the ethos of collaborative knowledge building Audience Stance: the way the author creates an ethos inviting various kinds of audience engagement/participation (Hocks 632); “this stance results largely from the author creating an ethos and a connection with readers that encourages different kinds of audience participation” (Hocks 642)
  20. 20. Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632).
  21. 21. Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632). These tabs—“Discussion,” “Edit this Page,” and “History”—all allow for user interactions with the text that clash with print conventions. Hocks would call this “defamiliarizing” the design and editorial capabilities of Wikipedia in order to highlight the possibilities not present in print forms (643)
  22. 22. Table of Contents conforms with standard book-printing practice, allowing for manageable and familiar browsing Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632).
  23. 23. Blue text perpetuates the HTML standard for hyperlinks, supporting an established convention of hypertext Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632).
  24. 24. Footnote citations follow a standard academic format for research writing in print form. (The addition of hyperlink mixes print and new media conventions.) Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632).
  25. 25. Wikipedia’s frame-within-a- frame interface follows fairly pervasive conventions for many Websites, allowing meta-site navigation at all times. Transparency: The “ways in which online documents relate to established conventions like those of print, graphic design, film, and Web pages;” the more familiar, the more transparent (Hocks 632).
  26. 26. Hybridity: Refers to the interplay between the visual and the verbal in one constructed, heterogeneous semiotic space (Hocks 637). Hybridity “works to the audience’s advantages by increasing the experience of pleasure through identification and multiplicity” (Hocks 643).
  27. 27. Icons pervasive to all of Wikipedia’s pages provide site-wide cohesiveness. The site’s visual metaphor —the globe being built by puzzle pieces— reinforces its mission: a worldwide collaboration of Internet users piecing together knowledge. Hybridity: Refers to the interplay between the visual and the verbal in one constructed, heterogeneous semiotic space (Hocks 637). Hybridity “works to the audience’s advantages by increasing the experience of pleasure through identification and multiplicity” (Hocks 643).
  28. 28. A frugal approach to images (except for scientific diagrams and charts) establishes the staid, text-based encyclopedic tone of Wikipedia. Image rights to: Pennsylvania State University Library, http://www.libraries.psu.edu/speccolls/rbm/images/burke.jpg Hybridity: Refers to the interplay between the visual and the verbal in one constructed, heterogeneous semiotic space (Hocks 637). Hybridity “works to the audience’s advantages by increasing the experience of pleasure through identification and multiplicity” (Hocks 643).
  29. 29. Analyzing Wikipedia A series of questions designed to help students conduct similar analysis of Wikipedia and other digital/visual materials is included in the CD “handout” you received for attending today’s showcase. You’ll also find writing assignments based on such analysis. Thank you for attending!
  30. 30. Works Cited Black, Erik. “Wikipedia and Academic Peer Review: Wikipedia as a Recognised Medium?”Online Information Review 32.1 (2008): 73-88. Foss, Sonja. “A Rhetorical Schema for the Evaluation of Visual Imagery.” Communication Studies 45 (Fall/Winter 1994): 213-24. Helvetica, The Documentary. Dir. Gary Hustwit. Plexifilm. 2007 Hocks, Mary. “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments.” College Composition and Communication 54.4 (Jun. 2003): 629-56. Voss, Jakob. “Measuring Wikipedia.” Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics. 24-28 July 2005, Stockholm Sweden. <http://eprints.rclis.org/archive/00003610/01/MeasuringWikipedia2005.pdf> Wysocki, Anne. “Monitoring Order: Visual Desire, the Organization of Web Pages, and Teaching the Rules of Design.” Kairos 3.2 (1998). <http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/3.2/features/wysocki/mOrder.html> ---. “Seeing the Screen: Research into Visual and Digital Writing Practices.” Bazerman, Charles, Ed. Handbook of Research on Writing: History, Society, School, Individual, Text, Lawrence Erlbaum, 2008. 599-611.

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