Towards the end of the movie The Imitation Game Alan Turing’s machine managed to break Enigma, the German Nazi code that was used to transmit important information during World War 2. Once the code was broken and the team that had been working tirelessly to decipher it collected intelligence on the Nazis, they didn’t just sit around a campfire pondering what they deciphered. No! They created a visual representation of the information. In other words, they mapped out what they knew so that they could look at all of the data objectively, and more easily draw conclusions.
Considering that Alan Turing, a legit genius, used visuals to aid him throughout his career, one can assume that following his example is pretty good idea. That’s why I was excited when in class we were asked to create something known as a rhetorical ecology map.
A rhetorical ecology map is a way for one to really dig into the situation surrounding a rhetorical artifact. For my map I chose a Pinterest post that I’m going to use for the project three, and I examined the dispositions, beings, environment, events, texts, and structure associated with it. To check out my proposal for project 3, click here!
Here is the post that I analyzed for my map.
And here is my admittedly difficult to read map!
Some of the beings who may have crossed paths with the artifact are Pinterest users, minimalists, people who are looking to better their lives, etc. The environment of the post, or perceived environment, depends on the person who comes across it and how. For instance, if I am a Pinterest user I may see the post on my homepage which has a different layout than boards on my individual account, and the environment of the post may also change depending on the technology I used to access the post.
I found the “events” category of the map to be a bit laughable, as there are so many events that can lead someone to come across the post, or to create the post in the first place. Maybe someone saw the post because they had a rough day at school and wanted to mindlessly scroll through Pinterest. Maybe someone heard about the minimalist movement from a friend and was trying to learn more about it. Maybe the person who created the post did it because they told someone they were a minimalist and the person jeered, “So what then? Does that mean you live out of a backpack?” Or, maybe the idea came to them in a dream or while they ate some special brownies…who knows! One of the only things that one can say is absolutely true about the events leading to the viewing or creation of the post is that the inspiration came from somewhere. As for the creation itself, it is possible that a text (another category on my pretty ‘lil’ flower map) such as another pinterest post, a web article, or work by dudes who are called The Minimalists may have had some sort of influence on the final product.
The final product that was created ultimately had to live within the structure of its ecology. It had to follow the rules of Pinterest itself, rules of good design, it is in english because it was probably created in the US or somewhere else whose primary language is english, etc. Some of these influenced the “dispositions” category that I created which, if I’m being honest, may be completely wrong because I don’t quite understand what this meant. One example of disposition may be that because the post is on Pinterest, it is image-oriented because that is expected of a post within the ecology of the site.
Now for the confession. My pretty little flower may not be the best representation of an ecology map because I failed to connect ideas from category to category. Even now as I stare at my map I can understand that these ideas are somehow connected, but as someone who thinks and completes tasks through organic processes rather than charts and maps, I found it confusing. However….through completing this map and thinking about where I may have gone wrong, I did learn that social media posts don’t just live in one space or appear out of thin air. They are influenced by dozens of other factors that we don’t necessarily think about when we see them. In other words, social media is much more of an interconnected medium than we give it credit for, and the ideologies of social movements are influenced by more than a social media post itself since these posts are a result of dozens of factors.
NoSideBar. (N.D). Untitled [Pinterest Post]. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/184295809734855913/
Header image created by me using canva.com