A new rhetoric: Essays on using the internet to communicate by Mr R E Stewart

By Mr R E Stewart

The essays during this publication research where of electronic communications or "rhetoric" in sleek tradition. They recommend that, just like the printing revolution prior to it, the net is shaping tectonic cultural stream, yet is presently stuck among conventional technocratic methods of considering, and the extra unpredictable terrain of human behaviour.

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Websites, books, experts exist, all of which will explain good practice for usable websites. It would be possible to take this good practice and build a usable website, which might even bring with it a fleeting frisson of pleasure, even if the site had only a bare minimum of content. A user might just about be able to find their way around the site seamlessly and have a pleasurable – or at least satisfying – experience, even if they had no interest in the content. So how far does that matter? Sticking with the same historical parallel, Martin Luther did not publish his 97 Theses solely because he wanted to create something that his readers could seamlessly access and enjoy, but out of raw piety, or because he thought that what he was publishing was intrinsically valuable, right and true.

The skills of journalism would shift with the movements of the time. The credibility and authority of information, much of which will be wholly incredible and specious, places a premium on the ability to recognise valuable material. So even if journalists aren’t first at the scene and crafting the story into a knockout blow, they will have the skills to know a good source from a bad one and curate what the reading public should (and should not) give credence. The metropolitan world of the media is, however, almost a by-product of the world on which it is, for the most part, reporting: the world of corporate business and particularly corporate government.

Where the national newspapers might be relied upon to reinforce the opinion or perspective of particular readerships, the broadening range of online content can quickly under-cut these stalwart but stubbornly entrenched positions. The primary political colours of the national press could easily begin to look like a clumsy caricature of a more complex and diverse reality. The Daily Telegraph versus The Guardian, or to think it through differently, The Broadsheets versus The Tabloids, become crude simplifications that are no longer in tune with the way in which different readers or consumers of information in society think about, and make sense of, public life.

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