The rhetoric of the patent wars: how technology becomes "Common Sense"

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The rhetoric of the patent wars: how technology becomes "Common Sense"

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This dissertation sheds light on questions involving innovation and technology. To answer these questions, I investigate one battle in the so-called "Patent Wars" surrounding mobile computing. I combine classical and modern rhetorical notions of common sense and community with perspectives on society and technology offered by philosophers Charles Taylor and Andrew Feenberg. I apply this theoretical lens to three sets of texts: 1) public rhetoric surrounding Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility--these texts come in the form of press releases, blog posts, and tweets; 2) public rhetoric involving a patent dispute between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility involving the former's accusation that the latter is not honoring its patent licensing commitments--these texts are drawn from press releases and blog postings; and 3) legal rhetoric found in four legal briefs filed by Microsoft and Motorola Mobility following the testimony phase of a patent trial. I find that the rhetoric used in these texts concentrates on technology as an ends, rather than allowing for a critical evaluation of these technologies as embedded in a broader cultural landscape. I offer a rhetorical approach that helps uncover and demystify the values that are embedded in mobile computing technologies.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2013. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisor: Mary Lay Schuster. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 333 pages, appendices A-W.

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Welsh, Joshua Carroll. (2013). The rhetoric of the patent wars: how technology becomes "Common Sense". Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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