This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: November 4, 2004

Gee, I wish I'd said that!

What is the purpose of "Electronic Highways?"

The Internet is huge and limitless, and knows no bounds. In order to realistically retrieve relevant resources from the Net, we must be more than surfers and cruisers; we must be detectives and scholars—fearless navigators in our quest.

But we always must bear in mind that plagiarizing Web pages is not a surefire route toward earning a summa cum laude degree. (It would most likely steer one in the direction of Dante Alighieri's seventh circle!)

If you have followed these "Electronic Highways" columns for some time, you have effectively, summarily and speedily discovered many interesting sites on all topics. EH columns are weekly; EH columns are well-written; EH columns are authored by university librarians—many of whom are modern-day "Platos" and "Einsteins." Some columns intend to inform us, others to entertain, others to challenge our opinions.

Of course, some people tend to sum up Web-searching techniques with three words: Google, Google, Google! A short phrase typed into a Google window box might take a few seconds of "clickety-click," but can result in hours of reading through results. The argument is that this method is as easy as falling off a log; yet there actually are more effective ways of retrieving information than merely a search engine—effective in terms of getting exactly what you are seeking.

Remember, search engines can lead to plenty of very little. This column, this useful and powerful little column, can be 100 times more effective toward that worthy goal—nay, the goal itself is not merely worthy, but crucial to the university community's intellectual growth. The column itself is a shining lamp of truth immortal. Your mouse will simply squeak with sheer joy. Yet, it still might be somewhat premature to conclude this at present. But we can only strive; truly, we can only strive—as the well-known saying concludes, "try and try again!"

With tongue firmly in cheek, the preceding paragraph contains the following rhetorical devices, in order of appearance: hypophora, pleonasm, alliteration, asyndeton, expletive, understatement (in particular, litotes), allusion, parallelism, anaphora, eponym, zeugma, onomatopoeia, epizeuxis, simile, antithesis, oxymoron, procatalepsis, hyperbole, distinction, amplification, metanoia, metaphor, hyperbaton, synechdoche, personification, aporia, diacope and sententia.

Rhetoric, the art of effective and persuasive written or oral communication, stems back to the classical Greek era. Today, we recognize that rhetoric permeates our culture: in science, literature, drama, oratory, journalism, politics and TV sound bites. The ability to write and speak well demands an awareness of the principles and types of rhetoric. A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices (http://www. provides a concise glossary; it defines and provides mostly present-day examples for the 29 devices used in the first paragraph above, along with 31 others. Don't neglect to link to the self-test at the bottom of the page. A similar site, the University of Kentucky's Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples (http://www. defines 45 terms, with examples drawn largely from classical sources.

The use of rhetoric in an era, location and culture closer to home is compiled in American Rhetoric (http://www., a site designed by Michael E. Eidenmuller of the University of Texas at Tyler. The site boasts an "Online Speech Bank" containing transcripts and selected audio clips of more than 5,000 sermons, legal proceedings, debates, interviews and other public speeches. Additionally, the collection of "Rhetorical Figures In Sound" contains more than 200 sound examples of 37 rhetorical figures using a wide variety of sources ranging from Bible recitations to clips from "Seinfeld." Other featured sections of this site include the top 100 American political speeches of the 20th century (Checkers, anyone?) and an audio/video/text database of 80 memorable speeches in Hollywood movies.

In these times of inflammatory talk-show rants, "flames" in discussion lists and chat rooms, overheated blogging and ad hominem shoutdowns replacing reasoned discourse, the art and skill of debate seems almost quaint and archaic. Sites like the University of Vermont's Debate Central ( learn2.html) preserve and promote the time-honored practice of informed discussion of issues from opposing viewpoints. A 13-part online video series on How To Debate, from the basics up to "Strategies of Persuasion," is one of the many highlights of this top-rated site, along with other text documents and videos on techniques for coaching, speaking and researching in the debating process.

Great speakers can influence, motivate, inspire or enrage. Hundreds of online recordings of famous speeches reside at the archive of the History Channel (http://www. Renowned orators in the political and cultural spheres are represented here. Each speech is accompanied by a brief biographical sketch of the speaker and a brief synopsis of the speech and its historical context. For more current transcripts of newsworthy remarks, members of the UB community can turn to Nexis/Lexis (, which covers the broadcast networks and congressional services, in addition to its array of newspaper sources. For example, if you wish to receive transcriptions of CNN broadcasts on gay marriage, select "Guided News Search," then highlight the "news category" box with "news transcripts," the "news source" box with "CNN transcripts" and enter the phrase "gay marriage" in the search terms box. For further related links, refer to the UB Libraries' Web Reference Sources page ( and click on "Speeches, Transcripts & Audio."

Online resources for rhetoric and rhetoric-related topics can help to improve your ability to bring forth clear, well-reasoned and convincing prose and oratory which-well, you will have to check out these links yourself to find out. (anacoluthon) As always, the UB librarians, professionals bound to provide top-quality research and information service, are available for assistance. (appositive) And now, respected readers and intrepid scholars, go forth and nourish your intellects with the unrivaled wonders of the net (apostrophe, more hyperbole)!

—Nina Cascio and Rick McRae, University Libraries