Rhetorical Analysis of “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”
This article is written by Paul La Farge. La Farge is an American novelist that has been published multiple times, is an author for nautil.us online magazine, and in this piece; discusses why we should be leaving paper text behind to focus on reading online. He starts his article with a background of how reading used to be done dating all the way back to St. Augustine; he explicitly states that reading used to be done out loud then it shifted when St.Augustine walked in on his teacher, Ambrose, and “was stunned to see him looking at a book and not saying anything” (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”). He is implying that this marked a change in how people read, and it is happening again with the use of laptops, phones, tablets, and just about anything other piece technology of with text. LaFarge later refers to his claim which makes his purpose for writing this article clear that it is okay to be leaving paper books to proceed to reading online and what the benefits entail. He uses a new digital book called Pry in which the reader is in a virtual reality and is the protagonist in the book as an example. He states that Pry “is the opposite of Shallow Work; its whole play is between the surface and the depth of the human mind “(La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”). Shallow work is a book written by Nicolas Carr; a writer who is against reading online, and explains in his book how it is making us dumber. La Farge is using this statement as a counter claim to defy Carr. La Farge is using Pry as a primary example to support his claim.
He addresses his audience by using data from experiments to inform the reader of why we should be reading online. His primary audience is adults and students that subscribe to nautil.us that have a scientific curiosity and are interested but uninformed of the topic. This article is perfect for people with a scientific curiosity but are uninformed because it provides both fact and opinion on the topic of how reading online is beneficial rather than just being exclusively fact like from thescientificamerican.com, or being exclusively opinionated like Carr’s article, which makes this very informative to people just curious about the topic. For example “The cognitive load imposed by hypertext….links in a hypertext“ (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”). This statement exposes scientific fact on a counterclaim of his own claim, but later references a study that disproves the study he refers to in this quote. Then at the end of this article he states “ digital reading will expand the already vast interior space of our humanity” (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”), there is no way to prove that for certain so that statement is just his opinion on the topic. The secondary audience of this article could be students that were required to read this. I for one would have never heard of this article, even this topic, if I hadn’t been required to read this for school.
The author is definitely a credible source for both audiences. He has been published five times and has written on this topic before. Aside from ethos he also strengthens his claim in context by bolding historical quotes and important phrases to make what he is saying seem important like “Critics like to say the internet causes our mind to wander, but we’ve been wandering off all along” (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”). He bolds this statement because he is implying that it is just in our human nature to wander off and find something different due to curiosity. By bolding this he is allowing the reader to know that this is a key point and giving context clues. La Farge also uses different types of pictures to show how some reading used to be done compared to what it is like now to read. In one picture he shows “the book wheel”, which was how they read in some libraries. La Farge states it “allowed the reader to keep a great number of books at once, and to switch between them giving the wheel a turn” (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”). He then shows a picture of a kindle, which can hold an even greater number of books, to compare how far reading has come.
The website this article comes from seems to also be concerned with other worldly issues not just reading online to inform the viewer what is going on in the world around them. The viewer can see an array of different information of issues going on in the “issues” section. The site is very easily accessible with other topics in the “topic” genre, and allows you to read what other people thought of the article in the “blog” section. The article as well as the site is very formal. Not as formal as the scientificamerican.com, but also doesn’t lack the quality information that some would need to supply an educated opinion on the topic like in Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. To make you interested, above the fold there is some type of mural along with the title, then below the title they italicized “Why we shouldn’t worry about leaving print behind.” (La Farge “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading”) to show what the article is about and then gives substantial evidence throughout the article that leaving print is the best thing for the future; so La Farge has his claim already written in the title.
La Farge stands with the idea that reading online is the best way to go, while he lists both pros and cons of the subject he makes it clear where he resides on the topic. His primary audience consists of adults and students that subscribe to nautil.is that have a scientific curiosity and are uninformed on the topic. His secondary audience is compiled of students in higher level English courses in college and high school that were required to read this. The context of the article is a credible author, a sophisticated font, historical background, bolded statements, and pictures both historical and modern to compare reading in text versus reading online. There is multiple genres on this site that informs the reader of issues, tragedies, and general news on the word. All if these factors combined is being used to persuade us by LaFarge on why we should read online and stop using paper text.
LaFarge, Paul. “The Deep Space Of Digital Reading.” nautil.us, 7 Jan. 2016, nautil.us/issue/32/space/the-deep-space-of-digital-reading. Accessed 26 Sept. 2017.