This week I started my Mindmap for the course, albeit reluctantly. I’m more of a list-maker and note-taker, and less of a mind-mapper. The squares and lines everywhere start to make me feel nervous, and I feel compelled to try to connect everything, and to expend energy worrying if I’ve put something in the “right” place. At least with Popplet I have the opportunity to (re)move a node or a section; the virtual format seems less permanent and more flexible than drawing it on paper, where my “mess” is more exposed. I understand the value of these visualizations, though, and I’m willing to work on it all semester and see if I have additional learnings as a result of the format.
I began with “Rhetorical Situation,” since that seemed the obvious “big idea” that all three articles discussed (green popple). Then I found myself organizing around three main ideas: the status/stasis of the “situation” itself, what travels along the medium (of a network or a situation), and where meaning resides (red popples). The three authors had differing ideas about these three topics, so it allowed me to put them in juxtaposition and opposition. I also incorporated an idea from my “How Stuff Works” reading, which seemed to relate to Networking and to Rhetorical Situation conceived as a relationship among constituent parts. The “status/stasis” of the situation is where I discussed the idea of origin, which differs greatly among the authors: for Bitzer, the situation comes first, for Vatz, the speaker’s intentions, and for Biesecker, there is no origin, just a relationship among the various parts. In all cases, a response — discourse — is demanded, but for different reasons. Bitzer says the discourse must be “fitting” to respond appropriately to the situation. Vatz says the discourse is an act of creative interpretation by the speaker, who determines the salient information to fit his/her needs. Biesecker says that the discourse is what creates meaning itself, that the construction of the text articulates the reality from between and among the constituent parts (e.g. exigence, audience, constraints) and the multiplicity of possible meanings.
This Popplet is a “possibility of conceptuality” (Derrida) and now is the visible structure of the différance that makes signification — meaning — possible. It’s a constructed reality by a rhetor (me) whose creative act of interpretation and choice selection of salient facts is responding to an exigence (the assignment).