Week 6 Interfaces Response

Nicholas C. Burbules, “The Web as a rhetorical place.” Silicon Literacies, Ilana Snyder, ed. (London: Routledge, 2002), 75-84. 

Burbules proposes five features of the hyperlinks that currently operates the world wide web:

1. Links are bi-directional;  2. Hyperlinks are point- to point link; 3.Hyperlinks are static; 4. The links are author-driven; 5. “There are different ways in which a hyperlink, and the content of the link, can be represented.”

Response: when I notice this paper was published in 2002, I understand the features that Burbules proposed. Although these features still exist,  some new features have emerged with the Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. (Web 2.0 was first mentioned in 2004) Wikipedia was launched in 2001, which I think is the most representative product of the Web 2.0.  With the social media blooming, the collaborating and sharing function became the current trend of a website. The third, fourth and the last feature can be slightly altered: now the hyperlinks can be added not only by the authors but also by the users. And this feature means the hyperlinks are not as close and static before. The hyperlinks are becoming open and fluid. Every network users can add links as their like, and vote to delete or alter certain contents/ links. As for the last feature, except for the text links, the picture as a hyperlink is common as well.

However, I think Burbules’s other discussions on the hyperlinks is still illuminating. He describes the webpages as a rhetorical place rather than a stable space. A place where the users utilize it as a more private, individualized space which can share easily among online communities. Burbules just describes the Web 2.0 features before the concept of Web 2.o firstly proposed. Burbules’s notion of “rhetorical place” makes the studies of interfaces and the interactions among users became eligible in the scope of rhetorical  investigate. Is there any possibility that the interactions became more deeper than Web 2.0?

Selfe, Cynthia L., and Richard J. Selfe Jr. “The Politics of the Interface: Power and Its Exercise in Electronic Contact Zones.” College Composition and Communication 45.4 (1994): 480–504. 

Selfe& Selfe went further step than Burbules did on the issue of interface. Burbules takes the web as a rhetorical space, which the interactions between the author and the user. The rhetorical space is also my understanding on interfaces;on the other hand, Selfe& Selfe take the interfaces as the linguistic contact zone, in which the interfaces present layers of culture and ideology. Selfe and Selfe’s arguments proved one thing from the perspectives of rhetoric, that the interfaces of computer is as maps of Capitalism and class privilege, race, discursive power,Rationalism and Logocentric privilege.

But interestingly, as a student whose native language is not English, I didn’t feel any uncomfortable with the fact that the interfaces is English privileged. If we want communicate with others all over the world, a standard should be set. Since Americans or the white middle class have privilege on economy, or have outstanding  political structure, they have the discursive power to set a standard. What the minorities should do is just keeping their own culture and trying to take the discursive power by developing their social economic status and the educational level.


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