digital publics

I Guess Group Work Isn't So Bad After All

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After reading the Chapter "Ambient Awareness" in Clive Thompson's Smarter Than You Think, I was honestly surprised that there was a chapter like this in the book. Thompson's book, in my opinion, covers a lot of ground and I wasn't really expecting to read anything about group work. The quote that appears: "Ambient awareness also endows us with new, sometimes startling abilities. When groups of people "think aloud" in this lightweight fashion, they can perform astonishing acts of collaborative cognition" (Thompson 212-3). I honestly am a big believer in group collaboration, but at the same time sometimes I am hesitant to share my ideas with others especially in the form of social media networking.

Taking Ownership

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I really enjoyed Clive Thompson's discussion of public writing in the "Digital School" chapter of Smarter Than You Think. It's really interesting how the high school students described in the book treated writing in an online public forum completely differently than writing a paper for a teacher's eyes only. The most compelling difference for me was the ownership the students took over their writing when they knew it could be read by the public.

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Adapting to Different Standards of Writing

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We obviously write differently for different people. Here is where I found a great list of words that should never be used in an essay. Here are some other words I was taught never to use:

Obviously/clearly--if it's obvious or clear, you shouldn't have to explain it.
Because (at the beginning of a sentence)
In conclusion--this says that everything that follows is something you've already read
I/me/anything in first person unless the prompt specifically asks for something about you
?--you're supposed to answer questions, not pose more.

Audience motivates good Writing

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Writing is not the easiest of tasks. It is sometimes hard enough to collect your thoughts and much harder to put those thoughts down on paper. It is especially difficult to write about something that you are not interested in, which is something that often occurs in classrooms. Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think gives the example of a teacher who encouraged his students to write online, and in this way the students wrote for an audience, and not just for a teacher. This motivated students to really take an interest in writing.

I Like Wikipedia, Okay?

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The chapter "Digital School" in Thompson's book, Smarter Than You Think is all too real for all of us in this class right now. I found myself relating to this chapter in pretty much every different situation that Thompson was talking about. Take the example that he used to bring up that teachers must now teach how to find creditable sources. The students always choose the first few links in a Google search even though they were wildly uncredited. I must say that I am guilty of doing this and am an avid user of Wikipedia which is known to be misguided sometimes.

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Who are you writing to?

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Who are you writing to?

This question goes hand-in-hand with that of what content one is writing, though Clive Thompson says the audience is often overlooked by writers and not pondered enough.

Said Thompson: "These are acts of self-awareness that professional writers struggle with: forming a theory of mind of one's audience, the better to communicate with it."

Writing and Designing for a Public Audience

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computerTo be honest, I love this book. “Smarter than You Think” addresses key problems and situations in our society that focuses on the move towards a technological future. With regards to writing for a public audience, I think that having that extra pressure encourages me to do better with my work. When we write to just turn into our professor, the pressure to perform well is there, but less. Writing for a public audience is scary, and also adds another aspect to writing: interest.