This page contains citations and abstracts for my published work.
West, Sara, & Pope, Adam R. (2021). Rubles and Rhetoric: Corporate Kairos and Social Media’s Crises of Common Sense. Present Tense Journal, 9(1). Retrieved from https://www.presenttensejournal.org/volume-9/rubles-and-rhetoric-corporate-kairos-and-social-medias-crisis-of-common-sense/
Abstract: In this article, we investigate the platform politics and technological dynamics at play on Facebook that allowed Russian politically motivated advertisements to be purchased with Rubles during the 2016 election season. These ads were purchased using a currency that clearly indicated an attempt by a foreign power to influence a US election, something prohibited by the FEC (Federal Election Commission, “Foreign Nationals”). In the Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing, Senator Al Franken asked Facebook VP Colin Stretch, “American political ads and Russian money: rubles. How could you not connect those two dots?”
West, Sara, & Pope, Adam R. (2018). Corporate Kairos and the Impossibility of the Anonymous, Ephemeral Messaging Dream. Present Tense Journal 6(3), Special Issue on The Rhetorics of Platforms. Retrieved from http://www.presenttensejournal.org/volume-6/corporate-kairos-and-the-impossibility-of-the-anonymous-ephemeral-messaging-dream/
Abstract: Can anonymity exist in a world of monetized social media platforms built on leveraging advertising revenue to support the physical infrastructure needed to maintain a social media empire? In this piece, we argue, by tracing the history of two ephemeral social media apps that have evolved on divergent trajectories—Snapchat and Yik Yak—that the answer to this question is no. Using the concept of corporate kairos, which we define as a purely transactional form of rhetorical velocity in which corporate users can pay to control certain kairotic factors, we discuss that why Snapchat succeeds whereas other platforms like Yik Yak ultimately fail.
West, Sara. (2017). Confronting Negative Narratives: Challenges of Teaching Professional Social Media Usage. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 80(4), 409-425.
Abstract: Because social media skills are increasingly viewed as essential for professionals, social media is incorporated frequently in business communication courses. When students are asked to consider professional uses of social media, however, they are often unwilling to critically engage these technologies. This article continues discussions of students’ reticence due largely to negative cultural narratives that label social media as unprofessional, or that link social media only with reputation management. Using student interviews and writing from a social media writing course, I discuss challenges posed by students’ adherence to these narratives and conclude with five suggestions for implementing social media successfully.
West, Sara. (2016). Yik Yak and the Knowledge Community. Communication Design Quarterly, 4(2B), 11-21.
Abstract: Yik Yak is an anonymous, location-based social networking application that is extremely popular on college campuses across the United States. Because it is known mainly for the controversies it breeds, both scholars and professionals have largely overlooked Yik Yak’s complexities and have instead focused on its more negative traits. This article discusses Yik Yak as a site for critical research, especially in the field of technical and professional communication. Yik Yak fuses physical and virtual space, places an emphasis on interactivity, and subverts traditional user hierarchies. By examining these characteristics and the posts that users generate, this article explores how Yik Yak serves as an impetus for the formation of knowledge communities—communities in which individuals work together to create and maintain collective knowledge. This article also advocates further critical study of Yik Yak communities and posits Yik Yak communication patterns have important implications for communication designers.
West, Sara. (2018). Back to the future? Reflections on digital infrastructures. Blog Carnival: Discerning Digital Futures. Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. Retrieved from https://www.digitalrhetoriccollaborative.org/2018/10/02/back-to-the-future-reflections-on-digital-infrastructures/
Description: In this contribution to the DRC’s “Discerning Digital Futures” blog carnival, I reflect on my experiences as a digital rhetorician in low-tech institutions. I also discuss the breakdown of classroom technology and how that affects (or does not affect) students in the class.
Other Publications (Non-Refereed)
West, Sara. (2017). S-Town and the Discomfort of Multimodality. Sweetland Digital Rhetorical Collaborative. Retrieved from http://www.digitalrhetoriccollaborative.org/2017/07/28/s-town-the-discomfort-of-multimodality/
Description: In this post, I looking at the multimodal nature of S-Town, very similar to that of Serial. But while Serial’s website single-handedly introduced all the facets of the podcast (including court documents, maps, transcripts, etc.), S-Town’s story has been told not only across media but across different media outlets as well. In this text, I first introduce S-Town and situate myself as author of this piece. Then I discuss S-Town’s particular multimodality, and I also consider how it brings about some discomfort for fans of the series. Finally, I draw some implications for teachers of digital rhetoric, podcasting specifically.
West, Sara, & Dieterle, Brandy. (2016). Pokémon Go and Collaborative Gameplay. Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative. Retrieved from http://www.digitalrhetoriccollaborative.org/2016/10/29/pokemon-go-collaborative-gameplay/
Description: In this blog entry, we consider how the collaborative aspects of Pokémon Go attracted users. We begin with a “cliff notes” style explanation of the game and its initial appeals for users. We conclude by questioning the staying power of the game in light of the recent downturn in active users, and by encouraging conversation about the future of augmented reality games and interactive applications like this one.