Information About Information
Now that we live in the “information age”, information about information is available everywhere for everyone. More and more devices, research, and marketing about information technology are at hand for any types of users: non-users to frequent users. Therefore, we have to be able to sort this information and determine if it is valid for the specific types of user targeted.
In this essay, two different genres of articles are analyzed: one article aimed at accounting professionals (Software for the Best Practices) that demonstrate the features of different accounting software and a research study written for the general public (A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses)that tries to identify information technology issues and the needs of small businesses. The articles will be analyzed using the three rhetorical appeals: Pathos, Logos and Ethos. Pathos Both articles use similar rhetorical tools to persuade their respective audience.
The writers play the emotions and values of their audience to achieve their specific purposes. Pathos plays an important role in the author’s strategy in “Software for the Best Practices”. The author creates a bond with his audience by showing that he understands his audience’s needs, interests and goals. For example, at the beginning of the article, he clearly states that the article is written in order to enhance the accounting firm’s profitability through specific features in the products that he discusses. He demonstrates that he knows what they need and therefore creates confidence and trust with his audience.
The target audience are accountants. Most professionals live a fast pace life; therefore holiday and leisure become really important to them. The author uses pathos by appealing these specific values and emotions. For example, he tells the professional accountants that with these products, they will have more personal time because remote accessibility will save the users all the trips to the office to retrieve important information: Time-wasting trips to the office to review CPE, vacation, holiday, or personal time are thing of the past. Staff can view all of this important information on-screen instantly.
Remote users have full access to this data as well. (Schulz, 2003, p. 4, par. 2) Finally, the author uses a pathetic appeal by highlighting his understanding of the accountants’ professional situation. He combines their goals with their business obstacles to build goodwill: Because your firm is probably adding staff (especially during the busy tax season), a product that offers some type of online training for free (or at low cost) is a lifesaver. Allowing staff to log-in via the Internet to attend self-running or instructor-led training is a powerful way to streamline and improve your firm’s efficiency.
He really tries to play on their emotions by emphasizing on important problems that can really affect them. The pathetic appeal is also used in “A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses” but in a slightly different way. Since the article is written for an average reader with no basic knowledge about information technology, he really has to stress the importance of his topic to his audience who might not be aware of the situation. At the beginning of the introduction, he plays on readers’ fear to catch their attention:
Information technology is advancing at an amazing rate and it seems as if technology is changing society on a daily basis. This impact is affecting all businesses, (… )”. (Berry, Wood, 1998, p. 1, par. 3) However, the authors also reassure the readers and create a bond by making the audience feel comfortable: “In general, software and hardware is becoming more and more user friendly and much more available to nearly everyone. ” (Berry, Wood, 1998, p. 2, par. 1) The authors bring the topic of the document at the readers level.
They tell the audience that information technology is available to anybody and they should not be intimidated by it. Finally, the authors use the appeals to the audience’s values and emotions by touching their feelings and stressing once again the importance of taking action: “If small businesses are going to survive, it is almost imperative that they use the information technology tools available to them (Berry, Wood, 1998, p. 10, par. 1) Logos Pathos is strongly used in both articles but is strengthened by the use of the logical appeal.
The authors use logos to presenting them with a well-organized document; they show coherent numbers and figures to support their information. In “Software for the Best Practices”, the author backs up the explanation of each software by showing a picture of each, with prices and additional references. In “A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses”, each argument derived from a survey question is backed up by all the statistical results grouped in a chart. In addition, the authors use the same title for the chart as the subtitle referring to that specific question argument section.
Therefore, the organization of the text makes the subject understandable for the average reader. Moreover, since the reader of this survey can be an amateur, the authors explain what each statistical result means. They builds a strong logical appeal since they know their audience and do not assume that their readers have any technological or statistical basic knowledge. The authors perfect their use of logos by being very logical and organized throughout the articles. Both articles are divided into specific sections, consistently throughout the text, which makes reading easier.
By dividing the text into sections and briefly discussing the main points, the presentation of the content is logic and easy to follow. For example, in “A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses,” the authors describe the research methodology by describing the steps that they went through in a chronological order. It is easier for the reader to follow and understand the logic behind every task. The headings by themselves are strong enough to make the process evident: “Research Instruments, Sample Selection, Demographic Profile of Respondents, Results of Survey. (Berry, Wood, 1998) The author uses a logical approach to the description of his research to persuade his audience that the tasks accomplished are valid. In “Software for the Best Practices”, the author uses many acronymes (e. g. CPA firms, PDA solutions, ODBC, etc. ) without explaining their meanings, which could disorient the reader. However, one must keep in mind that the article has been written by an accountant for accounting professionals looking for a better software.
Therefore the writer appeals to his expert audience by using the same jargon, assuming that they are familiar with it, and showing that he is also familiar with it. Ethos Ethos is the third effective appeal used in both articles. The authors gain credibility (ethical appeal) in a variety of ways. In “Software for the Best Practices”, the author builds ethos by demonstrating his expertise on the subject. He does so by simply stating his title and afiliation: “Wayne Schulz is a technology consultant located in Glastonbury, Connecticut”.
Tha author also gains credibility from writing in the magazine. “Accounting Technology Magazine” is published by the “Accountants Media Group”, which is “the leading publisher of periodicals for accountants in public practice. ” (Illinois CPA Society, 2003) The audience knows that he is knowledgeable and can be trusted because the magazine has authority and credibility. Again, using the acronyms shows his knowledge of the topic. The author also establishes positive, persuasive ethos by showing that he understands accounting software, accounting in general and the elements involved:
CPAs are likely to be in a perpetual search for that perfect practice management system. (… ) some of the “best of breed” features that CPAs firms have been seeking are remote accessiblility, due dates, client relationship management, flexible reporting, support and training services, and integration with other products. (Schulz, 2003, p. 1, par. 1) Most accounting professional would recognize his knowledge of the topic and trust him just from knowing so well the implications of softwares in accounting.
In “A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses”, the authors gain credibility by citing authority sources: This material is based upon work supported by the U. S. Small Business Administration Under Cooperative Agreement Number 5-7770-0019-13 and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development When the reader finds out that legislative and economic agencies are involved in the writers’ research, the authors’ credibility is enhanced. They also use the ethical appeal by citing many other authorities on the subject as references.
For example, in “A Survey of Information Technology Use by Small Businesses” many references are cited which add credibility: ” American Business Directory, Journal of Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, etc. ” (Berry, Wood, 1998) Finally, the authors reveal their limitations in the process. For example, they admit that a non-response bias may exist in their results and that the results should not be generalized. (Berry, Wood, 1998) By admitting these weaknesses to their audience, their readers gain confidence realizing that the authors are not trying to use the vulnerability of their audience.
The authors show that even if they might be amateur, the researchers are not using this “opportunity” to bias their results. The writers’ effective ethos also comes from showing self-confidence. They show self-understanding which assures the audience that they know what they are talking about. For example, in “Software for the Best Practices,” the writer explains the features that accountants are looking for in software: “Some the ‘best of breed’ features that CPA firms have been seeking are: remote accessibility, due dates,[… ]. ” (Schulz, 2003, p. 1, par. )
The writer’s style and voice show that he feels comfortable discussing the topics. He uses a firm sentence, which proves that he knows the information and base his argumentation on this. The audience, in return, understands the context better and can see the main concepts more clearly. Conclusion In conclusion, the authors are successful in using the three appels to reach their specific audience. Their emotional appeal is effective because the writers give their audience more confidence about information technology at their specific level of knowledge and show that they understand their values and needs.
The logical appeal is effective due to the writers’ fair, logical and reasonable organization of the arguments, ideas, figures and numbers. The ethical strategy is also effective because they use proper references to their authority, demonstrate their expertise on the subject and they use appropriate voice and tone that built credibility. The information in these two articles is appropriately written in order to reach totally different target audiences but both are successful at doing so. They use similar tools but altere them to effectively persuade their respective audience.
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