Digital Writing and the Rhetorical Situation of Blogging


In a literal sense digital writing could refer to all instances of written word that exists virtually rather than physically, encompassing all letters and words one might encounter via computer, smart phone, iPad, and any other such device that displays words virtually. Having said that, we typically tend to connote the term digital writing more specifically with methods of communication people use over the Internet or phone (e.g. text messaging). With respect to the Internet, examples of digital writing include everything that might take place on a social networking site such as facebook or twitter to the vast amount of various blogs that exists online.

Using Blogs Rhetorically

Blogs are quite multi-functional. Rhetorically, people use blogs for a variety of purposes. Often they are used as a sort of virtual diary, a place where they can share information with others about their lives—events, experiences, philosophies, feelings, etc. Depending on what they are sharing, the creators of blogs purpose, or exigence may vary. Regardless, the creators of blogs only make up one half of the rhetorical situation. The other half is the audience, those who read the blogs. People subscribe to blogs for various reasons. Sometimes for information and updates perhaps for sports or new blog as demonstrated in Blogging Within the Wrestling Community and also Small Axe Jiu-jitsu Blog as an Online Community. Other times they subscribe to blogs simply because they are interested in what the creator of the blog has to say. By taking an example of a blog, we can gain a better understanding of how this rhetorical situation unfolds between creator and audience. For this example we will look at the blog of rock climber extraordinaire Sasha Digiulian.

The Rhetorical Situation in the Sasha Digiulian's Blog


On Sasha's website, she frequently updates her own personal blog as it pertains to her most recent adventures and expeditions. Sasha is an 18 year-old professional rock climber who has been climbing for 11 years both indoors and outdoors. She climbs both for enjoyment and sport, i.e. competition, and she holds many 1st place titles as a competitor.

Her blog, like her life, is concentrated on rock climbing and bouldering. More specifically, it is most often focused on her own outdoor climbing experiences or her experiences competing against others in indoor climbing competitions. She also sometimes discusses her philosophy of climbing that she has developed over 11 years of doing it.

On Monday August 29, 2011, she posted regarding a competition in Austria in which she competed. While many of her posts are about her outdoor climbing excursions, the specific occasion that this post focuses on is the competition in Austria. The purpose of this post was to inform her fans how the competition went, and this is exactly what she does for her readers after providing a short background regarding the details of the event, e.g. the location, magnitude, etc. According to the post she placed third after coming up short on a daring move. She expresses her feelings by conceding that, “competitions are always more fun when you feel completely satisfied with your result,” but at the same time she keeps a positive outlook on the results stating that, “not having the result I want only drives me to push myself more and to want to try even harder.”
The rhetorical situation of this blog is three-fold. It involves the creator (Sasha), the audience (fans, friends, rock climbers) and the exchange that occurs between creator and audience. By enabling these three situations Sasha's blog is able to grow and change based on the interaction of creator, audience, and exchange; an important aspect of Community Building

Miller, Shepherd, and exigence

In the article, “Blogging as Social Action,” Miller and Shepherd speak about the term exigence. An exigence is a sort of motivation the prompts the writer of the blog to write. They argue that, “the generic exigence that motivates bloggers is related less to the need for information than to the self and the relations between selves (Miller and Shepherd). This blog post can be looked under with that light in that it is all about a person and their experiences. It is not blog that shares information in general; rather it is a blog about a person’s life. In other words, Sasha's exigence for this blog is not simply to relay information, (first event A, then event B, then event C, etc.), rather it is to connect with friends, fans, and family. Yes, events are noted; however, they are noted as they would be in a diary in that she will explain an event and also expresses feelings and philosophy about it in which the audience can relate to.