What is “kairos”? How exactly does it affect digital rhetoric?

A moment in the text that I found really important is the short explanation of “delivery.” Over time, delivery is an idea that hasn’t received lots of favoritism or credit; Aristotle is one of delivery’s critics. In the text, the author describes delivery as “often [receiving] perfunctory treatment, even by Ouintilian and others who take a brighter view than Aristotle and acknowledge its importance.” I found this section on delivery so important because delivery is “a system of nonverbal signs that has enormous power.” For example, in conversation, an individual will provide particular gestures and nonverbal cues (i.e. nods, eye contact, etc) that will emphasize what he/she is saying.

In digital rhetoric, this can be extremely difficult because so much information is purely text. Text doesn’t account for nonverbal signs, like facial expressions or body language. Thus, I think it is important that rhetors keep this in mind if they choose to use digital rhetoric; rhetors will need to make up for the loss of nonverbal signs and delivery. In order to effectively and efficiently convey their message digitally, rhetors will have to ensure they do what they can to make up for this loss.

In “Kairos and the Public Sphere,” the authors elaborate on the meaning of “kairos.” The authors are quick to note that kairos is a very complex term that encompasses numerous definitions. Kairos is considered as “the right moment” or “the opportune”; it’s also described as “timing,” “occasion,” and “due measure.” Kairos influences how a rhetor can effectively persuade his/her audience. Because kairos pertains to a particular moment for a rhetor, I soon discovered that the rhetor has some control over kairos—although he/she does not have complete control over it.

For that reason, I have come to realize how kairos plays a crucial role in digital rhetoric. For example, rhetors have to pay careful attention to how and when they can make the most of their use of kairos. Kairos shapes how a rhetor formulates their writing or speech, which in turn influences how he/she persuades the audience. Therefore, it is very important that digital rhetors pay attention to their constraints of publishing their work online and what they can do to effectively convey their message to their audience.

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One thought on “What is “kairos”? How exactly does it affect digital rhetoric?

  1. Even though delivery wasn’t the primary focus of Brooke’s text, it certainly comes up in his discussion of the canons. Additionally, I can hear some echoes of Gary’s classes in your discussion of delivery’s significance to digital rhetoric, which is great. I’d push you on that comparison a bit, though: people were worried about the lack of nonverbals even before digital texts; Plato was worried about how writing itself would cause this problem where what a rhetor actually meant might not be fully realized in a textual representation (as opposed to a more complete rendering, or at least the chance for question and answer, in an oral delivery). And in fact, digital texts can actually allow us to include more symbolic meaning than traditional alphabetic texts (e.g., through use of emoticons, embedded videos that could include nonverbals, etc.) I’d also add that when digital rhetoricians consider what a digital text lacks that other texts might more easily include, some think about “embodiment” – about the tangible and physical interactions available to authors and readers. Finally, your discussion of kairos shows me you understand its complexity, but the discussion of its significance to digital rhetoric is rather vague. √

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