Digital Rhetoric: MentalFloss

For my example of digital rhetoric, I am turning to the web-based magazine, Mental Floss. This site provides readers with interesting facts, Buzzfeed-esque articles on historical information, and  up to date news about pop culture (such as the new Marcel the Shell video, hehe). MentalFloss is the perfect example of digital rhetoric because it uses a wide variety of media including video, images, and text articles to inform readers about the world around them in a fun and engaging manner. By using different media, it gets readers interested in information they could potentially get bored by in a standard paper format. The addition of interesting images, GIFs and videos makes history topics a lot more accessible and interesting to get readers engaged in a quick and concise manner. The addition of hyperlinks is especially useful because it allows the main text to be concise and easy to read, but still provides additional background information if readers are really interested by a particular topic. There are also many interesting video demonstrations for certain topics that illustrate many of the points in the articles. The primary reason this website is such a good example of digital rhetoric is that it involves so many other sources on the web and in print to make knowledge entertaining in a way that a textbook couldn’t. Quizzes make the site interactive, getting readers to challenge themselves on basic knowledge about a variety of topics. The topics are not limited and you can read about everything from science to literature, and you can even get “life hack” tips to make your life generally easier. The best part of digital rhetoric is making things that would normally be too esoteric or boring to engage in actually fun and accessible, and I think Mental Floss does a great job of this.

Sonalee Joshi

Sonalee is a fourth year student in the College of LSA with an Honors major in Biopsychology, Cognition, & Neuroscience with a Sweetland Minor in Writing.

3 thoughts to “Digital Rhetoric: MentalFloss”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know Mental Floss had a whole website, but I was familiar with their YouTube channel. In one of my favorite video from them, John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) explains common spelling and grammar mistakes in a way that helps even the least grammar-savvy people understand (“Saying you could care less implies that you care at least somewhat because you could reduce your level of caring!”). In order to engage the audience, Green speaks at a fast pace and incorporates supplemental pictures and links that viewers can click on to learn more. As you described, this fits in with digital rhetoric because Green uses techniques such as links to engage his readers in a way that could not occur in a non-digital medium. Consequently, these techniques allow him to educate the public on a topic that they might not otherwise be compelled to learn about (who wants to study a grammar textbook all day?). I’ll definitely have to check out their website!

  2. Prior to reading your blog, I had never heard of MentalFloss before! I really enjoyed exploring the site and can definitely see why you chose it as a perfect example for digital rhetoric. For those who want a more interactive and exciting way to learn about history, this site seems perfect. I found myself reading the post “Scientists Reveal the Real Face of King Tut.” The images and hyperlinks definitely made it an easier read, and I liked the fact that the information was very concise and to the point. It focused on peculiar facts that would be interesting to someone just browsing through. Thanks for introducing this site to me! I can see myself looking through it more in the future.

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