In the reading for today, “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery,” Jim Ridolfo and Danielle Nicole bring a new term into the field of rhetorical analysis. That term is rhetorical velocity, which they define as “a conscious rhetorical concern for distance, travel, speed, and time, pertaining specifically to theorizing instances of strategic appropriation by a third party.” They created this term through the use of several definitions already extant for velocity. The three they used were velocity as a speed of motion, the physics definition of speed and direction, and also velocity as the rate that an action occurs at. But what actually is rhetorical velocity, you might ask? Well in essence, it is how a piece of text or information moves and transforms though available channels and the speed at which it does so. An author needs to think about the place of publication for their piece, as viewership will affect the chances that their work will be transformed. The author also needs to think about the possible speed at which their work will travel and the loss of meaning the piece may have or even the chance that people may twist the piece to their own agenda. Sometimes this is exactly what the author wants, though. A work may be intended to be remixed by the viewers as a means of furthering the message or as a social experiment.
One example that has become very mainstream in its rhetorical velocity is internet memes. The whole culture surrounding them encourages the remix of these images or phrases into entirely new and abstract ideas. A meme always has an origin, and depending on where it was born its rhetorical velocity can be super slow or lightning quick. The spread of these memes from places like reddit and 4chan is not limited just to the web. Places like Hot Topic and Walmart carry merchandise that is just a remix of memes that were born on the web. Grumpy Cat, a worldwide meme sensation has spawned millions of dollars worth of merchandise and also a direct to DVD movie. In this day and age any small bit of humor can become the next juggernaut of a corporate marketing campaign just through the use of rhetorical velocity.
Here is Grumpy Cat, as I’m sure you all know. It is a prime example of remixing and rhetorical velocity. Grumpy Cat’s owner has made a small fortune off of merchandise based on their cat.
How important do you think retaining ownership is in regards to remixing in the digital age? Also, what are some challenges that creators face on sites such as YouTube in regards to remixing?