Archive for February, 2012

Library Research

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past Thursday our class was an introduction to research in the library class. In high school and middle school I had similar orientation type programs for the libraries, but they seemed like a waste of time. Now with a resource like Georgia Tech’s library I am excited to have access to such great amounts of knowledge. Learning how to use databases on the Georgia Tech Library’s website, http://www.library.gatech.edu/, is something I wanted to do. The libraries resources are much deeper and more helpful than a simple Google search or looking for a book on the shelves. The multitude of databases to search through is both a pro and a con. The good aspect is there are millions of articles to search through, but the downside is all of the databases cannot be searched at once. Looking through the different areas separately, I may not know exactly how the type of article I am looking for is classified. So far my group for the white paper project has only skimmed the library’s resources looking for topics and one resource has already jumped out as a useful resource for this project. CQ Researcher, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/, has an in depth analysis for many social issues. They are well written and mostly neutral with a goal of informing the reader, not persuading. That website will certainly be helpful in choosing a topic and getting a direction for the paper. As this project’s research portion goes on I am sure I will find more ways the library is more helpful than I knew, but as it is early on I can only speculate what to what end the library will surprise me.

Digital Rhetorical Analysis Tools

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

                Essays reporting on the usefulness of a digital rhetorical analysis tool were due this week.  As a part of turning the papers in, each group was to give an impromptu five minute presentation on the tool they analyzed. Those presentations caused me to think, “What if a rhetorical speech or writing could be put into a program and a grade were given?” The grade could be for a class, or for the effectiveness of addressing a rhetorical situation.

                None of the programs assessed by groups or found in our research were near capable of this level of intelligence. None of the programs were even capable of determining the exigence, audience, or any background information. Will computers reach this level? It seems likely with how far computers have come that one day they will be able to do this. If so when? 3 years? 10? 50?

In the case computers could be capable of this, I argue we would be better off not creating a program to grade rhetorical works. If a program was left to grade, there would almost always be special circumstances or little nuances a computer would have to be programmed to pick up each instance of. An experienced human with some time and effort will always be a better option. There is another reason not to create such a program. If a seemingly good grading program were created, humans would not be paid to perform these tasks. As a result of the only human involvement being the programmers, rhetoric would stall and not be advanced anymore because computers just do what they are coded to do and not look for new directions of rhetoric.

Could the golden age of digital rhetorical analysis tools be now? I think they are and should be kept in their aiding humans tool stage.

Different Direction

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week’s blog will be a bit different. It will focus less on the topic of rhetoric and more on the topics of working in a group on essays and work shopping essays with other groups. With a rough draft of only half the length of a final draft problems arise work shopping because the reader may not get a great feel for the essay, but helpful advice and criticism can be given. Reading another essay on the same general topic helps all people involved. For the reader, they can see what they might want to do similarly or what major aspects are missing including but not limited to citations, visual aids, and headers. The person whose essay is being read gets helpful tips and is also let known what went over extremely well. The effective items can be expanded or those techniques can be implemented in more parts of the paper.

Working in groups along with people who have not read the essay previously is an effective approach to improving an essay. The people can come up with completely new angles. However, just one person reading an essay could do that. Two people reading an essay for the first time are much better. They can discuss ways to improve the third member’s work and in that discussion come up with even better ideas which no one person could have. While working in groups on essays can be hard to do logistically, the essay usually turns out clearer, better-rounded, and more knowledgeable than if a single person completed a long essay. The group work shop work uses this idea and compounds it.

First About Lanier

Posted: February 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week’s blog will be the first blog with ideas prompted by Jaron Lanier’s You are Not a Gadget. The first idea I found an urge to write about was that of lock-in. Lock-in happens in many ways in technology. One example is the QWERTY keyboard layout; the cost would be extremely high to switch keyboard layouts even if a clearly better layout was found, so we are locked in. That example does not seem like a big one as it likely does not hinder how we express ourselves or even slow down our computer usage much.

Other examples really can hinder our individuality. A few things locked-in I see potentially hurting our ability to be unique are fonts online and the layout of social networking sites. Fonts on websites people can post or send messages on, whether the posts are comments, social media posts, forum posts, or any other type, are usually restricted to one plain font for all users. The problem here is everyone looks like they have the same voice and are just identified by their screen name. If everyone is just identified by a short set of characters, we may not be thought of as individual humans so much. Social networking sites are usually very structured in how a profile or any part looks. Users cannot customize them much so they are forced to look similar to millions of other people on the same site. The effect is similar to the fonts one.

Even with all of this I do not see a big issue, people do not live on the internet, we are still humans with lives and the internet is just a small aspect of them, If everyone looks exactly the same online except for what they say, then the internet is just a great tool to communicate.