Pundits in the mainstream media have a tendency to chastise Internet users for making their private lives public and for putting the most intimate or mundane details of their personal experiences into digital files for all to gawk at online. As a scholar of rhetoric, my fear is that these practices won't be public enough now that so many people rely on corporate cloud computing to store and share photos, videos, and journal entries, and social network sites often function as the Internet equivalent of gated communities. At the same time corporate copyright regimes are claiming intellectual property rights to materials that might otherwise enter the public domain. The recent inauguration of Barack Obama represents an aggregate of rhetorical occasions involving political crowds and online communities who have commemorated the event. Without public digital archives in which to store our collective memories of the digital files from that historic day, the record of the inauguration is remarkably fragile.
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"I, Barack Hussein Obama: Virtual Crowds and Participatory Politics in the 2009 Inauguration,"
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