The Digital Evolution of “Doing Rhetoric at the U”

1 May
Digital Doing Rhetoric at U
Doing Rhetoric at the U, in its virtual manifestation, does not have to go into hibernation until next year.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for helping us build a robust online presence for “Doing Rhetoric at the U.” The blog was viewed more than a thousand times in the short span of few days. Organizers and participants alike live-tweeted the panels extending the reach of the conference proceedings beyond the brick and mortar confines of the Weisman museum. Our Facebook page increased the visibility of the conference and amplified its voice beyond what we originally envisioned. At the same time, we shared a # with a new Belgian beer, making for some confused party goers somewhere in the world; the blog’s internal clock rushed in advance of the real time by 7 hours, undermining our adamant assertions of keeping you “up to date;” and the RSA’s “The Blogora” ( ) spontaneously relayed our links and twitter feeds.

These digital tools and their unexpected articulations persuaded us of the online potential of our coming together. Evidently, the insights pertaining to the communicative prospects of this “series of tubes” are not particularly ground-breaking. What is of interest, however, is the way the Internet worked for us, here at the U, helping us organize this conference, in April 2013. As we pleasantly found out, “Rhetoric at the U” has many more friends out there interested in being a part of this experience than we were able to appeal to in our inaugural attempt.

In a relatively short span of time we moved from an idea to a fully fledged conference and from a simple email call for papers to a functional system of interconnecting blogs, social media, and people. All these elements, from securing a space for the conference to creating a virtual one, came together seamlessly to buttress a community of interests emerging from two distinct departments with a great deal to share. In virtue of these reasons we strongly believe that “Doing Rhetoric at the U,” in its virtual manifestation, does not have to go into hibernation until next year.

Consequently, we would like to explore with you the possibility of continuing the conversations started at Weisman. Perhaps rhetoric at the U can “shape shift” in productive ways, oscillating between an on and an offline existence. Advertising our respective departments’ research meetings to a wider audience and extending the scope and reach of all our calls for reading and writing groups are but a few and simple suggestions. We are certain that the collective intelligence of our two departments can dream up of new, productive, and unexpected uses for these forums. In the same vein of a creative hive mind, we also imagine a directly democratic and blissfully chaotic control over these interfaces. Without a hierarchical command structure the conference planning committee worked in perfect sync animated solely by the desire for new and productive encounters between people at the U doing rhetoric. We are confident that this experience can be scaled up.  

If you are a graduate student at UMN in WS or CS interested in being part of the conference in its multimodal mutations please let us know. We would happily share our access to the “Doing Rhetoric at the U”’s three interrelated and linked accounts—blog, Facebook, and Twitter—ready to be put to whatever uses we can imagine. As for the rest of our friends interested in this community, please let us know how would you like to link up with our efforts. 

Digital Doing Rhetoric at U glitchedThe Conference Planning Comittee


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