This chapter is about connecting ideas together. For many writers, particularly not very experienced ones, using transitions can feel artificial, but it is very helpful for your reader. It gives them road marks to follow your train of thought, as they try to get to the destination you want them to reach.
Another thing that tends to happen to people who are not comfortable writers is that they write something, and then they never want to see it again. “Phew!” they say, “I’m finally done with that.” They don’t edit. They don’t proof read. They don’t revise. Then they wonder, “why am I not succeeding?” Writing is a performance art. It requires practice. It requires feedback. It requires self-reflection. It requires acknowledging our weaknesses and trying to fix them.
Make sure you read over the list of transition words on pages 105-106. Try using them in your writing. When you do so, look them up to make sure you’re using them correctly. Many smart people don’t necessarily understand the specific functions of each unique word.
Pointing words, like ‘this” and “that” can also be helpful in allowing readers to follow your ideas from one sentence to another. Please keep in mind that if they can’t follow what you’re saying, you’re wasting your time.
I think repeating key words & phrases is useful, and, honestly, sometimes a better choice than using every alternative from the thesaurus one after another. Mostly, this is because each alternative in the thesaurus has a slightly different connotation, and if you haven’t done the work to understand that, your writing will come off as bizarre and confusing. That said, deliberating setting out to use the same word over and over isn’t ideal. Most of us aren’t as skillful or practiced with language as, say, Martin Luther King, Jr., and may not be able to achieve the same effects through repetition.
What does the text mean by “repeat yourself with a difference”? What other questions do you have?
“How I Learned to Love Snapchat”
What is the thesis of this essay?
What is the evidence? Is the evidence sufficient?
Do you find it convincing?
…I think she’s got a point (though I don’t use Snapchat).
“Google, Democracy, and the truth about Internet Searcch”
How does the author believe that Google is jeopardizing democracy?
What supporting arguments and evidence does she use?
What counter-arguments should she include, and where would they best fit?
Cadwalladr doesn’t always set up or explain quotes. Are there missed opportunities? Where?
“Go Ahead: Waste Time on the Internet”
The author lists a number of standard views, followed by a series of “I say” statements. Do any stand out to you, and why?
Does the author successfully answer the questions “So what?” and “Who cares?”
What else strikes you about this argument?
“No Need to Call”
Turrkle doesn’t spend much time explicitly telling you early on what she thinks about all of this. She mostly uses the evidence that she chooses to set the tone & demonstrate what her concerns are. What is the tone? What worries her?
How would the earlier authors we’ve studied this week respond to her concerns? Who’s right? What makes one more convincing or more authoritative than the other?
How convincing is she, and why? Which author’s description of how social media impacts us most closely matches what you experience and see around you?
Introduction-12 (Due Date: July 22, 2020)
In this module we will discuss Chapter 9, “You Mean I Can Just Say It That Way?” and you’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions about the argumentative research essay. The resources for the essay are in this module, but it’s not due for a few weeks.
“You Mean I Can Just Say It That Way”
“Form Follows Function” (What does this mean? How does it apply to writing and to our class?)
Here I’d like to discuss Chapter 9, as well as answering any questions you have about the Argumentative Research paper (which is required for an A).
The gist of this chapter is that simple can be, and often is, good. Using precise, advanced language is sometimes the best way to get across complicated ideas to a sophisticated argument, and is sometimes the most appropriate language to use in some situations, like, as the text points out, job applications.
With that said, there is much value in translating complicated ideas in to simple language, or simply saying it simply in the first place (both of these approaches have different impacts in different situations).
As the text points out, standards have loosened, and more ways of expressing ourselves are acceptable in more situations (please, however, research before radically changing how you write for a specific situation!).
One way of applying this technique is by blending academic and colloquial styles. You simply use the one to rephrase the other: first, say it in your best academic language, then rephrase it, perhaps how you would explain it to one of your parents or to a younger sibling. The book gives a number of templates that should make this fairly easy.
We’ve seen other examples of very smart people using language as a thinking tool. For instance, in “Smarter Than You Think” we saw physicist Richard Feynman explain his thinking process, which he does largely in writing. Without the writing, he could not understand the things he is supposed to be an expert in–it’s just too complicated to keep in your head all at once. A quick google search will bring you many other examples of public intellectuals expressing the same idea–you can’t understand it until you write it down (this really works).
This chapter tells us accurately that when you write down your ideas, you’ll understand them better. This is one of the big reasons writing is so difficult for so many people. Almost every person finds that when they write down something that seemed very clear in their head that it then seems less clear. This is exactly the point. The act of getting feedback on that writing, proofing it and editing it and rewriting it is the thing that clarifies the piece of writing and your thinking on the process. The more you practice, the better your writing will be, and the clearer your thinking will be on the issues you write about.
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