Turkle reading response

Standard

Turkle points out some of the social drawbacks of the online world and social media, mainly focusing on text messaging. In some ways a text can be a good thing. She gives the example of her daughter wishing her luck. She couldn’t be there to support her mom, but the text message still felt like reassurance. However, she addresses how technology can make is distant from others. We separate ourselves from the personal conversations which involve tone, body language, and other nuances that help us to really get to know someone, whereas texting does not allow these factors. Most people do not like to have a real conversation and would rather text than talk because it is more convenient. Texting does not take place in real time, and you can edit and think about your reply. In a way this makes us more socially inept when we try to have an actual conversation with some rather than “text speech”.

I agree with most of her points. We need to find a balance between technology and “real life” in all aspects of our lives. While we can adapt to this new technology, it is important that we do not allow it to cause us to regress even as we are moving forward. A machine is not and never will be a person. (We all saw what happened with I Robot.)

Midterm

Standard

There is no simple way to explain exactly how I ended up where I am in my writing as there have been many factors leading up to the point at which I am now. From the time I was a young child, my grandmother expected much from me in the way of literacy. Proceeding on throughout grade school and high school I was blessed with two amazing English teacher who became far more to me than just that which only inspired within me more drive and determination. Taking into account the many influences I have had thus far, it is sad to think that my career of choice will not involve much of the type of writing to which I have been accustomed and have learned to really enjoy; nonetheless, I will still continue to use writing in my everyday life outside of school.

Whether it be genetics or influence, I have always had an immeasurable love of reading just as, or maybe even more so than, my father. However, it was my grandmother who truly inspired me to love books from an incredibly young age. She worked with me every day with flashcards, trying to teach me how to read. As incentive, she would buy me a new book every week, saying that I would not know what they were about until I could read them myself, knowing mine and every young child’s weakness to extreme curiosity. Her methods worked, and by age three I could read small, simple children’s books. It was not long before I became affluent with chapter books and eventually made my way through the entire elementary school library and half of the middle school library by the fourth grade. We all have are areas of strength, and I like to think that mine is in the way of literacy. I grew to love books or all kinds more than anything in the world, and it did not take long before I had dreams of becoming a writer myself.

Despite the impact my grandmother had, she cannot hold all the credit. I talked early of how I was blessed with wonderful, for lack of a better word, teachers. However, I think of Mrs. Thagard, my fourth through sixth grade teacher, as more of a mentor and a friend, still to this day, than anything. She egged on my writing abilities, pushing me until she uncovered my strengths and leading me in the right direction. While she did far more than influence my writing, I cannot deny she had a huge role in that area. Imagine my shock when I start at a new high school and learn that my new English teacher is her best friend, Mrs. Pullen. I thought Mrs. Thagard was tough. Mrs. Pullen challenged me more than any teacher did throughout my entire high school career and most of college. I learned that my strengths were in literature analysis and in research. One of my proudest moments was when I received my essay back on an analysis of Beowulf and could not find a single red mark on the entire paper. Considering that even ‘A’ papers are typically returned with more red writing than black, I took this as a huge success.

Unfortunately, my father always pushed me in a different direction in career choice. He wanted me to make smart, logical decisions and make my choice based on the job market and income rather than actual enjoyment in the field, so when I started college I had no need to take any English courses. In fact, I tested out of the basic English courses because I made a thirty-five on the English portion of the ACT. After a year of college without writing papers of any sort and a year off of college, I came back to school and finally had a chance to write again. In my second semester at AUM I took English Composition I. There was no small amount of shock or embarrassment in my mind when I sat down to write a paper and realized that I had no idea what to do. It was as if my entire lifetime of writing had just gone down the drain. Over the course of this semester, I have realized my writing has somewhat improved; however, I have a long way to go in order to get it back to where it was and better. All-in-all what I really need is practice.

Although for the longest time I have dreamt of being a book critic, book editor, or journalist: basically anything involving reading, I am more grounded at this point in my life and need to look at the job market. I am now preparing to enter nursing school and am very excited. Although it is not what I originally intended it will pay the bills, be rewarding, and will involve working with some wonderful people and doing something that actually makes a difference. In the nursing field there is still a lot of writing; however, the majority of it includes writing referrals, excuse notes, and filling out charts and records. While I will devote myself to this job, I hope that once day I can move on to some sort of job involving reading and writing; but I have realized that whether or not I can write, my true love is reading, and there will hopefully never be a shortage of books in the world.

The Aftermath of the Technology Boom

Standard

In the article Clive Thompson on the New Literacy, Thompson discusses the effects technologies such as blogs, texts, and social medias have had on the development of writing skills. He begins his article acknowledging the common accordance that technology has ‘dumbed down’ our writing styles and abilities while spending the rest of the article discussing why this has become a common misconception. The article has significantly change my impression on the ways in which technology and social media have affected writing abilities among those in the information age; however, while I do believe there are a couple of negative points Thompson has brushed over, I have found another article describing and experiment that personally allows me to better understand what exactly both Lunsford and Thompson are trying and say and has compelled me to have a more open minded view than before.

Thompson addresses the numerous cases of teachers, writers, and various experts who criticize the way ‘text talk’ has reduced essays to “bleak, bald, and shorthand”. Up until this point in time, as a twenty-year-old in the prime of the technology boom, I have ironically come to believe such. In my opinion, technology has dumbed us down, made us lazy, and has caused us almost as many problems as it has solved. Thompson then points to a study done by Lunsford at Stanford University, in which she collected various writing examples, formal and otherwise, over the course of five years (2001-2006) from Stanford University students. Lunsford claims that we are in fact “in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization”. Rather than believing technology is holding us back, Lunsford believes that it is actually propelling us forward in new directions.

Lunsford’s findings cover multiple aspects of writing including writing style, quality, quantity, and technique, specifically in students now living in the digital age. Her study found that students now write more than ever, taking writing out of the classroom and into their personal lives whether it involves texting friends, blogging about a multitude of topics, or chatting through various social media websites whereas in previous years, she claims that writing virtually ended after graduation unless necessary for a job. She also points out that before technology there were very few writing outlets outside of the classroom, and there was rarely ever an audience other than teachers.

Many people, myself included, focus not necessarily on the content but more so on the technical side of writing today. Is it professional? Did the writer use spellcheck? Did the writer proofread and edit? Are the sentences logical and the paragraphs well thought out and the organization up to par? According to Lunsford and her study and findings from Stanford University, the answer to all of these questions is yes. While she makes effective points, there are several aspects of her research I find discrepancy with as they do not profoundly back up her points.

One immediate flaw that comes to mind while first reading about Lunsford’s study is that her findings stem only from a small, select group of students over a short period of time. Stanford University is not representative of the population. This school has high standards that come with a high price tag. I find it hard to believe that any student that could both receive acceptance in to the university and either afford the tuition or win a scholarship would in any way be pervious to severe writing flaws brought on by ‘text speech’ as they would have to be incredibly intelligent and probably received high-level public or private school education before attending this prestigious university. Therefore, any findings in this study are virtually irrelevant to the whole of the United States population. It is not a fair assumption to believe that all students are at the same level as Stanford University students. Good or bad, it is impossible. Furthermore, after re-reading the article, I discovered some other significant factors that cause an equally disturbing impact on the results of her study (Clive Thompson on The New Literacy).

After a second review and taking the time to fully discuss the article I realized that the study was conducted between the years 2001 and 2006. This is an old study and was not done in the prime of the information, technology, or digital age as we call it. While Internet was very progressive and cell phones were available to the majority of the population at the time, it still does not compare with the advanced technology we have today or the resources we have to access that technology. Nowadays we have IPhones, IPads, tablets, notebooks (and not the paper ones), Blackberries, and various other phone and computerized devices. In today’s world almost everyone, rich or poor, carries one or more computerized, digital devices around at a time. In order for the study to be more effective, I believe that it should be redone to include a vast, diverse selection of the population, specifically those who are primarily affected by this wealth of digital equipment.

However, another article gave me reason to believe that even though Lunsford study may show some inaccuracies, she very well may have been on to something. A more valid study, in my opinion, was done by Orachorn Kitchakarn at Bangkok University in Thailand. Her study, ironically considering my discrepancies with Lunsford’s experiments, covers a much smaller group of students. Although this is the case, I feel that the extra experimental component in her research better serves to back up the idea that technology may in fact make students better writers.

The professor took on thirty-three first-year students in their first semester of college who have already gone through a basic English writing course. She split the students into groups of five or six and had each student write summaries to be submitted and graded over the course of fourteen weeks. The students were active in writing, revising, peer-editing, and summarizing. The study is actually similar to our own work in class: we come to class, write summaries, discuss articles, and reflect on our writing abilities and thoughts on blogging.

The reason this study has more of an effect on my attitude towards online writing is because of the way she tested the students. She first began the experiment with a pretest to gauge their skills before blogging and then conducted a posttest following the fourteen week experiment to evaluate the effect blogging had on their writing. The results showed that it had a positive effect on both how they wrote and their attitudes toward writing. The combination of these two articles has drastically changed my opinion on media.

As Kitchakarn and her contributing writers pointed out in the study,

writing is a complicated process that involves the cognitive process, the social context, and the need for people’s routine life, it is not an easy skill for one to acquire. Writing ability is not acquired naturally; it requires the leaner to be taught and practiced in the form of the academic environment (Using Blogs to Improve Students’ Summary Writing Abilities).

I now believe that, as in all things, it is important that we keep in line with moderation. Technology cannot be allowed to become all-consuming; however, it is clear that it has had an incredibly profound impact on our daily lives, attitudes toward writing, and our approaches toward writing. It is undeniable that some of the many benefits include writing for an audience and writing for purpose and meaning. As long as we do not allow social media to dumb us down I have become a new advocate for the moderate use of technology, such as blogs, in the classroom as they have proved to be a useful tool for students around the globe.

Works Cited

Kitchakarn, Orachorn. “Using Blogs to Improve Students’ Summary Writing Abilities”. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE. October 2012. ISSN 1302-6488 Volume:13 Number:4 Article 13. Web. 20 February 2014

Thompson, Clive. “Clive Thompson on the New Literacy”. Wired Magazine. 24 August 2009. Web. 20 February 2014

The Aftermath of the Technology Boom

Standard

                In the article Clive Thompson on the New Literacy, Thompson discusses the effects technologies such as blogs, texts, and social medias have had on the development of writing skills. He begins his article acknowledging the common accordance that technology has ‘dumbed down’ our writing styles and abilities while spending the rest of the article discussing why this has become a common misconception. While he does make some very interesting and important points, I feel that he has brushed over some of the detrimental aspects. While I do believe there are a couple of negative points Thompson has brushed over, I have come to agree with a lot of his ideas.

                Thompson addresses the numerous cases of teachers, writers, and various experts who criticize the way ‘text talk’ has reduced essays to “bleak, bald, and shorthand”. He then points to a study done by Lunsford at Stanford University, in which she collected various writing examples, formal and otherwise, over the course of five years (2001-2006) from Stanford University students. Lunsford claims that we are in fact “in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization”. Rather than believing technology is holding us back, Lunsford believes that it is actually propelling us forward in new directions.

                Lunsford’s finding cover multiple aspects of writing including writing style, quality, quantity, and technique, specifically in students now living in the digital age. Her study found that students now write more than ever, taking writing out of the classroom and into their personal lives whether it involves texting friends, blogging about a multitude of topics, or chatting through various social media whereas in previous years, she claims that writing virtually ended after graduation unless necessary for a job. She also points out that before technology there were very few writing outlets outside of the classroom, and there was rarely ever and audience other than teachers.

Many people, myself included, focus not necessarily on the content but more so on the technical side of writing today. Is it professional? Did the writer use spellcheck? Did the writer proofread and edit? Are the sentences logical and the paragraphs well thought out and the organization up to par? According to Lunsford and her study and findings from Stanford University, the answer is yes. While she makes effective points, this is one of the major aspects I find some discrepancy with.

                One immediate flaw that comes to mind while first reading about Lunsford’s study is that her findings stem only from a small, select group of students over a short period of time. Stanford University is not representative of the population. This school has high standards and comes with a high price tag. I find it hard to believe that any student that could both receive acceptance in to the university and either afford the tuition or win a scholarship, would in any way be pervious to severe writing flaws as they would have to be incredibly intelligent and probably attended high-level public or private school education before attending this prestigious university. Therefore, any findings in this study are virtually irrelevant to the whole of the United States population. It is not a fair assumption to believe that all students are at the same level as Stanford University students. Good or bad, it is impossible.

                After reading over the article a second time and giving it some thought I realized that the study was conducted between the years 2001 and 2006. This is an old study and was not done in the prime of the information, technology, or digital age as we call it. While Internet was very progressive and cell phones were available to the majority of the population at the time, it still does not compare with the advanced technology we have today or the resources we have to access that technology. Nowadays we have IPhones, IPads, tablets, notebooks (and not the paper ones), Blackberries, and various other phone and computerized devices. In today’s world almost everyone, rich or poor, carries around one or more computerized, digital devices around at a time. In order for the study to be more profound, I believe that it should be redone to include a vast, diverse selection of the population, specifically those who are primarily affected by this wealth of digital equipment.

Public vs. Private

Standard

Facebook has become a recent addition to your otherwise typical job application. As a new internet phenomenon it contains a wealth of information about a person that they believe and want none but their media ‘friends’ to view. Helen Popkin’s article is about a school teacher’s aide in Cassopolis, Michigan at Frank Squires Elementary accused of submitting inappropriate posts and was fired over not handing over her Facebook password.  Her situation is becoming well-known and is represented in many other similar scenarios involving employer and employee rights. Meanwhile another article entitle “Did the Internet Kill Privacy?” talks of another woman, Ashley Payne, who was coerced into resignation due to pictures containing alcohol and another reference to a trivia contest that included use of the “B” word.

Both make serious points. Where do you draw the line between public and private? Many believe that Facebook is private, but that is simply not the case. In my opinion, Ashley Payne should not have been suspended or coerced into resignation, and the teacher’s aide should definitely not have been fired for not handing over her Facebook password. However, there are certain implications when you submit a post on Facebook. If the job requires you hold a certain appearance then you should uphold such. However, asking for any password is by far an invasion of privacy. The line between private and public has become hazy with the development of social medial.

Formal Assignment One

Standard

One of the first topics any college class will broach is the concern of plagiarism. From the moment you have stepped on to a university you are barraged with information about plagiarism and its consequences. The consequences typically involve being either suspended or expelled from the university. If neither of these occurs, the student would at the very least fail the assignment. However, this is not any more acceptable when you leave the university, especially in the world of academia. In any writings, especially public articles or books, there are rules about citation and references that were established years ago so as not to cheat others out of credit for the work. In “Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism: Even Worse than It Looks”, Jim Sleeper takes a closer look at Zakaria’s offense and explains the many reasons why what he did was wrong beyond the simple fact that he took an unethical shortcut.

Because of how frowned upon plagiarism is in school and how severe the consequences actually are, I believe that the leaders of these universities, the alumni, the staff, and anyone who has a foothold in the university, should not only share the same view as the university is trying to impress upon its students but try to uphold these themselves. Meaning, plagiarism is detrimental to those directly involved, those indirectly involved, and to the one plagiarizing as well. Those directly involved, for example, would be the person who was not credited with his or her work. He or she probably worked hard to attain a certain level of prestige and success only to have someone else take credit for his or her words and ideas. Those indirectly involved would be the readers who are led to believe that the article or essay is genuine and original. Unfortunately, most discount some of the negative consequences for the one doing the plagiarizing, especially the plagiarizer. Not only has this person taken credit for someone else’s hard work, which is unethical, but they have cheated themselves out of an opportunity to better their skills as a writer and have inherently hindered the reputability of their work and by doing so acquired a negative outlook on their character as well. In the second paragraph of his article, “Fareed Zakaria: Even Worse than It Looks”, Sleeper mentions Zakaria’s connection to Yale as a trustee and illustrates his opinion of the action the school should have taken. Sleeper declares that this is a school that “takes a very dim view of plagiarism and suspends or expels students who commit anything like what he has committed” (“Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism”). It is evident that Sleeper believes Zakaria ‘got off lightly’ and that the school is not upholding their own reputation by allowing him to come out of his indiscretion unscathed.

Although Zakaria made a public apology to Jill Lepore, the writer of the New Yorker whose work he plagiarized, who actually obtained her PhD from Yale, there are still other concerns that have not been confronted. For example, Zakaria is a proficient speaker and writer, so how did he manage to make such a critical error? Sleeper suggests the possibility of Zakaria running the work of a student or assistant. Looking into how his mistake is ‘even worse than it looks’, not only did he plagiarize, but he possibly used another’s work. Worse still, he did not take the time to thoroughly review the article which, to me, indicates a degree of laziness. However, it would have looked worse had Zakaria used this as an excuse, hence the public, “clipped” apology.  Whether these accusations are true or false, it seems that with fame, wealth, and experience also come a tendency towards laziness and even an excessive amount of over-confidence. Should Zakaria get let off more lightly than the teachers and students of Yale? Should he get let off more lightly than someone doing the same work on a smaller scale, purely because of his position? No, I do not believe so, but that is what has happened and what continues to happen in many cases other than Zakaria’s. Fame and special treatment seem to come hand in hand: standards are lowered and punishments are lenient.

Regardless of this one, isolated incident, Zakaria has been known to exhibit a cocky and somewhat snobby attitude toward his critics. Sleeper uses Zakaria’s quote to Charlie Rose as an example: “I’m not going to get into the what-ifs of a professor, you know, who has never run for dogcatcher advising one of the most skillful politicians in the country on how he should have handled this.” Yet, what exactly makes Zakaria more qualified to advise presidents? His use of “elitist, snarky put-downs of his critics”, according to Sleeper, sheds light on negative characteristics which do not set a good example for the many that look to him for informative, knowledgeable discussion.

It does appear that Sleeper, being closer to the matter, has some bias indicated his harsh ending comment “he will remain a sad example of Yale’s own transformation from a crucible of civic-republican leadership for America and the world into a global career-networking center and cultural galleria for a new elite that answers to no policy or moral code and that aggrandizes itself by plucking the fruits of others’ work”. However, I believe it is indisputable that Sleeper has brought to light concerns that the general public had not considered. As a professor of Yale University, I can see where his harsh attitude is coming from. The repercussions he would have faced would be far worse than Zakaria’s simple two week suspension and public apology. His distinction allows Zakaria to reach more people, and his role as a trustee of Yale allows him to reach more young minds. As a public icon, the punishment for him, or anyone in any position, should be punished accordingly and equally so as to set an example so that others realize it is not acceptable and that plagiarism is taken serious no matter status or wealth.

Works Cited

Sleeper, Jim. “Fareed Zakaria’s Plagiarism: Even Worse than It Looks.” HuffPost Media. TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Web. 10 August 2012. 2 February 2013

Wikipedia: Can it be trusted?

Standard

Wikipedia has long been a touchy subject for all writers, students, and teachers. Because of the multitude of different authors, their lack of credibility, and the pollution of incorrect information it has been tagged as off-limits as a reference for formal assignments and essays. Deceptively ending in ‘.org’, a Wikipedia response is often the first and most readily available response to any search entry.

Unfortunately, it can often be hard to discern the lies or misinformation from the truth, as Mike Barnes points out in “Can You Trust Wikipedia?” Again, this problem points back directly to the conflict of multiple, sometimes less-than-credible authors. This issue is addressed in Ulanaoff’s “Wikipedia: You Still Can’t Trust It” as the author points out an incident where someone, as a joke, wrote a fake biography of John Seigenthaler which only brings to light the ease of which it would be for anyone, anywhere to create such an entry.

Ulanoff continues with his article to point out another valid conflict with Wikipedia: point-of-view. For example, the author describes the entry about Microsoft and how it begins as a diatribe. Ulanoff describes Wikipedia as becoming ‘full of intrigue and excitement’. When have you ever picked up an actual encyclopedia and been immediately engrosses by the intrigue of any entry? An encyclopedia is meant to be a collection of facts on any particular subject with no perspective or ‘gossip’ included.

The last of the three articles, “Study: Wikipedia as Accurate as Britannica”, offers a new perspective validated by a study that showed only a .94 discrepancy between the accuracy of Wikipedia versus Britannica, with Britannica having .94 less mistakes than Wikipedia. Daniel Terdiman points out that no reference, no matter how credible, is completely devoid of errors.