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.
List of Illustrations
Introduction by John Jones and Lavinia Hirsu
Part I: Emergent Machines
Chapter 1. A Conversation with A.L.I.C.E.
Chapter 2. Engines of Rhetoric: Charles Babbage and His Rhetorical Work with Mechanical Computers by Jonathan Buehl
Chapter 3. Definitive Programs: Rhetoric, Computation, and the (Pre)history of Controversy over Automated Essay Scoring, 1954–1965 by J. W. Hammond
Chapter 4. Treating Code as a Persuasive Argument by Kevin Brock
Part II: Operational Codes
Chapter 5. A Conversation with Mitsuku
Chapter 6. The Mathematical Assumptions within Computational Literacy by Jennifer Juszkiewicz and Joseph Warfel
Chapter 7. Inventing Rhetorical Machines: On Facilitating Learning and Public Participation in Science by Ryan M. Omizo, Ian Clark, Minh-Tam Nguyen, and William Hart-Davidson
Chapter 8. Race within the Machine: Ambient Rhetorical Actions and Racial Ideology by Joshua Daniel-Wariya and James Chase Sanchez
Part III: Ethical Decisions and Protocols
Chapter 9. A Conversation with Elbot
Chapter 10. Metis in Code: CV Dazzle and the Wily Encounter with Code Libraries by Anthony Stagliano
Chapter 11. Good Computing with Big Data by Jennifer Helene Maher, Helen J. Burgess, and Tim Menzies
Chapter 12. Nasty Women and Private Servers: Gender, Technology, and Politics by Elizabeth Losh
Part IV: Responses
Chapter 13. Rhetorical Devices by James J. Brown Jr.
Chapter 14. Full Stack Rhetoric: A Response to Rhetorical Machines by Annette Vee
“Rhetorical Machines provides an extension of current work in digital rhetoric, and helps to add a nuanced and more usable framework than more surface contentions about whether rhetoric and rhetorical agency is limited to humans or can be inhabited and deployed by machines/algorithms/software agents.”
—Douglas Eyman, author of Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice— -