Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere.

Author:Reinwald, Jennifer
Position:Book review

Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere, by Damien S. Pfister. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, Rhetoric and Democratic Dehberation series, 288 pp., $69.95 hardcover.

In Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics: Attention and Deliberation in the Early Blogosphere, Damien Pfister uses three case studies of early-2000s blogging argumentation to examine how networked technologies have influenced public deliberation. The book is divided into six chapters, which cover a range of rhetorical concepts and theories specifically focusing on invention, expertise, and emotion (p. 2). Three middle chapters feature specific case studies and introduce notions of "flooding the zone," "ambient intimacy," and "shallow quotation" (p. 6-7). The case studies include the Trent Lott controversy, Salam Pax's account of prewar Iraq, and RealClimate's intervention in climate change discussions (p. 6-7).

In chapter one, Pfister lays out the trajectory of the book, which "explores how internet-worked media influence public deliberation in an era of information abundance" (p. 4). In addition to previewing the case studies (Trent Lott, Salam Pax, and Real Climate), and rhetorical theories used (flooding the zone, ambient intimacy, and shallow quotation) (p. 6-7), Pfister also explicates the key terms supporting his study, including the blogosphere, networked media, and networked rhetoric. Rather than using phrases like "new media", "social media", "participatory media" among others because of their imprecisions, over determinations, and inaccuracies, Pfister deploys the concept of "networked media," which encompasses a wide variety of media and focuses on the networked capabilities of each (p. 9-10). Additionally, Pfister defines networked rhetoric as a heuristic device that allows for attention to be focused on "communication practices rather than technologies" (p. 10). Pfister closes the chapter by explaining four principles that should be considered when studying the blogosphere such as the importance of blogging within the public sphere and its connection to and exploration of communicative practices, the necessity of a "pragmatic spirit" when exploring blogs and the networked public sphere, examples of blogging assist in the development of the vocabulary of the "networked rhetorical imaginary," and metaphors of communicative practices encourage the shift and development of public attention about a particular issue (pp. 13-17).

Chapter two traces evolution of rhetorical theories, starting with discussion of the agora in ancient Greece. Pfister posits "the agora's sustaining conceptual power can be located in the spirit of openness and public argument that it represented, especially in contrast to symposia...

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