rchv3, by john satron, via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons content.

Another important consequence in the arrival of digital technology and its facilitation of feedback is that we can look at large systems and recognize them once more not only as part of ourselves, but also as components that can change…
Now, though, we live in a world where text is fluid, where is responds to our instructions. Writing something down records it, but does not make it true or permanent. So why should we put up with a system we don’t like simply because it’s been written somewhere? —Nick Harkaway, The Blind Giant


Digilalia – “Digi“—as in “digital”; and “lalia,” a Greek to modern Latin term that means “speech.” However, this is also a play on echolalia, which can be defined as a child’s repetition of speech when learning how to talk, or a meaningless repetition of another person’s speech as part of a disorder.

We are in a pseudo-anarchist state in the Internet, which is, in itself, disorder. We like to say that there is control over the Internet, but we are quickly learning that digital culture is, as Harkaway said, “where text is fluid.” Copyright attempts and bullying tactics do little to curb the hundreds of thousands of subcultures online, even in countries that strictly moderate digital culture.

James Bridle coined the term The New Aesthetic, which can be used as an umbrella of sorts over digital text and digital rhetoric when we look at how the Internet and digital age overlap with our personal cultures and intentions, often creating surprising results that define innovation, humor, and disaster:

The New Aesthetic is not a movement, it is not a thing which can be done. It is a series of artefacts of the heterogeneous network, which recognises differences, the gaps in our distant but overlapping realities.

Likewise, digilalia is an examination of how digital rhetoric often has unintended consequences, and this website is a project to collect these consequences so that we might find innovation in our inadvertent mistakes, often referred to as “glitches.” Sometimes glitches are simply worth a laugh. Other times we can find our own reflection – the proverbial ghost in the machine – writing back. Like echolalia, our mimeses demonstrate our infantile babbling. We are textual babies online, searching for ways to communicate. And when our provider-mothers tell us to obey the rules, we don’t.

—Aaron Geiger, Oct. 8, 2014

PhD student, Northern Illinois University

Digital Rhetoric and Composition

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