Rhetoric of the Link

Rhetorics of the Web (by Nicholas Burbules at Wesleyan University) is an often-cited overview of various kinds of hyperlinks and the rhetorical strategies that they employ. I’ve wondered whether his examples are too general, or even naive about the possibilities of the link.

I see the central question of the link to be this: in what ways can the same surface text develop wildly different meanings depending upon its link?

To begin to explore this question I’ve created a simple exercise: the same phrase–Who lives in the White House–repeated multiple times with a different link each time. What rhetorical strategies are at work in each example? How does the tenor of the question change each time?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?

Who lives in the White House?