"The idea is that where a writer and a reader are located on the globe can have important implications for how they compose. By affecting how one composes a text —and reads and accesses—the medium affects the rhetorical strategies one can use to present information via that technology."
-Kirk St. Amant
Let me address these items in reverse order.
Medium relates to the technologies individuals use to communicate and compose online. The idea is that the design of a technology can foster certain aspects of the communication and composition process, but inhibit others. Email, for example, allows you to type lots of text into a space, but it's just text (limited on the visual information one can provide). Moreover, the nature of the exchange of information between composer and audience is time delayed, or asynchronous. These factors affect the nature of the exchange itself and thus how individuals compose online. Technologies such as Skype, by contrast, allow for communication contexts that are synchronous in nature, can involve voice and video, and can allow users to integrate text (via messaging), share documents/screens, and share links to websites—all in real time. As such, the nature of this online medium brings with it very different rhetorical expectations of how individuals interact based on what kinds of communication—or the modalities or channels of communication—the technology allows.
By affecting how one composes—and reads and accesses—a text, the medium affects the rhetorical strategies one can use to present information via that technology. It also affects how individuals perceive the information conveyed through a given medium. And it turns out cultural factors affect such rhetorical elements associated with how individuals compose and read online texts or texts composed in or shared via online media. As such, the rhetorical factors one must account for when communicating internationally online are more than a matter of "take what we know about the rhetorical expectations culture X has for conventional communication and apply that to online composition practices." Rather, one needs to determine the rhetorical expectations the members of a culture associate with a particular online communication technology—which can include everything from what is a valid topic for discussion in this medium to how should one discuss topics in this medium to with whom should one discuss this topic in this medium. This area of intercultural rhetoric, moreover, is still relatively new and is growing and evolving rapidly, and it will only continue to do so as more individuals from more cultures around the world get online.
"Rhetorical factors one must account for when communicating internationally online are more than a matter of 'take what we know about the rhetorical expectations culture X has for conventional communication and apply that to online composition practices.' Rather, one needs to determine the rhetorical expectations the members of a culture associate with a particular online communication technology."
In terms of location, the idea is that where a writer and a reader are located on the globe can have important implications for how they compose and read online texts and for the kinds of media they wish to use to communicate online. Consider infrastructure and bandwidth. The stability and reliability of infrastructures can vary greatly from nation to nation and region to region globally. As such, individuals living in certain parts of the globe know they have access to a stable communication infrastructure and related power grids that allow them to communicate pretty much any time they want and for as long as they want. Individuals in other countries don't, and this factor affects how they approach the uses of online media to communicate—including everything from where they can communicate (e.g., at home vs. in cyber cafes), when they can communicate (e.g., any time during the day vs. only those times when the cyber café is open and the power grid is working), and for how long (e.g., paying a flat monthly rate for online access vs. paying by the minute for online access). These factors, which are connected to where one is located when composing online, greatly affect how one composes online and thus affects or shapes the rhetorical practices used by individuals in different locations. If, for example, I'm paying by the minute to access the online environment, and I only have a limited time to access it, then I might compose and read online texts in a very different way than someone in a location where they can access online materials any time, for a flat monthly rate, and for an unlimited amount of time. Thus, such location-based technological factors affect rhetorical ones by influencing how individuals compose and write online based on such parameters.
Connected to these ideas is the notion of bandwidth. Like infrastructure, bandwidth can vary from location to location globally in terms of the availability and the cost of high-speed bandwidth. These factors affect online composing practices involving the creation and the accessing of web-based texts. (The use of video, audio, and other streaming media, for example, will likely vary based on the location of the individual and how much time and cost are involved with posting or accessing compositions that use such media.) These factors, in turn, affect rhetorical strategies individuals in different locations might use to create or review online compositions. (For example, does the use of video in an online composition enhance or detract from my credibility based on how difficult or costly it might be for audiences to access such materials?)
And then there are legal factors connected to location and the implications they have for composing globally in online contexts. Nations can have differing laws affecting what one can and cannot access and what one can and cannot say online. These laws, in turn, create parameters affecting the rhetorical strategies and expectations individuals in different nations use to compose and access texts. For example, individuals living in nations where it is illegal to discuss certain topics online tend to use more indirect rhetorical approaches to compose on such topics. Conversely, individuals from nations where it is legally permitted to discuss the same topic online will use very different—and relatively, more direct—rhetorical approaches to discussing such topics. Failure to understand how these location-based factors affect the rhetoric used when individuals from different cultures compose online could lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, confusion, and even offense—all of which undermine the objective of sharing ideas and information with greater global audiences in order to engage them in a broader discussion—or international exchange of—key topics and ideas.
—webtext & interview by Gustav Verhulsdonck 2017