Transformations of Literacy in Computer-Mediated Communication

Author: Jacobsen, Martin M.
This work offers a rhetorical analysis of hypertext resulting in a taxonomy for the elements of hypertext as they relate to literacy. It postulates a theory of cyberdiscursivity, which holds that the more instantaneous, widespread, and individual discursive practices are inherent in computer-mediated communication.


“We see many claims about what happens to writing when it is practiced within electronic media. The question concerns people from a variety of fields, ranging from computer science and engineering to communication studies, education, linguistics, intellectual history and rhetoric ... In a brave attempt to comprehend some of the key issues in these studies and provide a general model for say what is new and different about writing with the help of computers, Dr. Martin M. Jacobsen offers this stimulating theoretical investigation. This work should appeal to people working in a variety of disciplines as a point of departure into the study of web-writing, e-mail, networked communication (synchronous and asynchronous), and all manner of electronic discourse ... Dr. Jacobsen illustrates the effects upon communities of like-minded individuals when cyberdiscourse is introduced. This analysis, while trenchant and engaging, only scratches the surface of possible applications for the model. I suspect that readers will be eager to try out the new categories on their own projects and favorite examples ... Such challenges, along with Jacobsen’s graceful style and far-ranging ideas, make this book compellingly readable despite the jaw-breaking name of the key phenomenon – cyberdiscursivity ... The concept and the critique that it implies deserve the attention and the scrutiny of everyone interested in how the computer transforms communication practice.” – Professor M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Texas A&M University

“ ... Dr. Jacobsen’s work makes an important contribution to scholarship, and in three related disciplines: philosophy, linguistics and critical theory. He makes major strides toward applying the study of rhetoric to Computer mediated Communication, in particular, the hypertext. The presentation is remarkably clear, particularly given the difficult nature of the subject. The writing is lively and keeps one’s attention ... The author is certainly a master of the current literature in the study of computer-mediated communication, hypertext, and the WWW community. He also brings in, in an ingenious and very rewarding way, the traditional authors in critical theory including Benjamin, Jameson and Barthes ... I found the book fascinating – I literally couldn’t put it down. This is a very important piece of innovative work.” – Professor Peter Barnett

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
I. Introduction
II. Virtuality
III. Dynamism
IV. Emergence
V. Idiosyncracy
VI. Conclusions
Works Cited