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White Paper Again

I know it is a bit late for this, but I have been extremely busy and have not found much time to blog.  I wanted to give my thoughts on the white paper project, now that it has been graded and returned to us.  My last post did not go into very much depth about the project.  The grade we received was a 94%, which I thought was extremely impressive considering that only 3 of the 4 members of the group contributed substantially to the paper the day before it was due.  The three of us essentially researched, added 3,500 words, formatted the paper, and revised and edited the paper in its entirety.  The process took about 8 hours that night, and by the end of it, we were all exhausted.  After a while, we just accepted the fact that the paper was as good as it was going to get.  Evidently, that was pretty good considering our grade on the assignment. 

 

The overall process of creating the white paper should have been planned out better.  We did have a schedule, but with everyone balancing other commitments, it was hard to meet up, and we were unmotivated to work on it individually.  By the time the deadline was approaching, it was crunch time, and we had to work on it very last minute.  It ended up working out for us because we put in a lot of time and effort when we met. 

 

There were several challenges that we were faced with and overcame.  The first one was the length of the paper.  It is a daunting task to write over 5,500 words on one topic, especially without being repetitive.  We managed to overcome that challenge pretty easily.  Another problem we had was that early on, our paper lacked a direction.  We didn’t know whether to address poverty on a global, national, or local level.  While writing our final draft, I noticed we still vacillated between talking about poverty nationally and locally.  After that, it was a relatively easy fix.  Without having to do any additional research, we were able to transition well between when we discussed both local and national poverty.  The focus was on poverty in Atlanta, but we used statistic and information about national poverty to put our statistics about Atlanta in perspective.  The biggest challenge was by far getting everybody in one area to work together on the paper.  We almost accomplished that goal, but it was the best we could do.

 

Overall, this was a successful project.  I had never written a group essay before, but it turned out to be a decent experience.  There were ups and downs with the cooperation of one of my group members that I didn’t really appreciate, but overall I’m proud of the final product.  This was a good learning experience for me, and there is a lot of things I learned that I will apply to future assignments.  

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White Paper

This week was one of the worst weeks I have had in a long time. Coming off from spring break, I was supposed to be rested and ready to have a strong finish to my semester.  I came back from spring break to be greeted by 3 tests and the final draft of a paper.  On top of it all, my birthday was on Wednesday, and it was spent inside my room studying all day until 7:00 the next morning.  I woke up an hour later to subsequently take the test, which I probably did badly on.  Thursday was spent working on our White Paper.  Although it took from 6:00 PM until 2:30 in the morning, and I was delirious following my lack of sleep for the last 4 nights, it seemed like we ended with a pretty strong paper. We got a lot of work done on Thursday.  Unfortunately, nobody in our group had the time to work on the paper before Thursday, so that was when we had to meet and work until we finished. 

 

One of the big issues we had to deal with is formatting the paper.  Formatting is a very important part of an effective white paper, but it was something that our group did not address until late into the project.  However, we were able to find a layout that worked well and it seemed like a pretty seamless transition from working on the paper through Google docs to formatting it into Microsoft Word.  I will post more of my thoughts on the paper in the near future, but I need some time to re-energize after this crazy week.

KONY 2012

In class this week we watched the KONY 2012 film about children in Africa being kidnapped and turned into child soldiers.  The first thing I noticed was that the film immediately makes an emotional appeal to the viewers by showing the crying boy, Jacob, mourning his brother’s death.  From there, the film makers went into an introduction about Joseph Kony and his atrocities.  Being already emotionally sold, I was ready to be a part of the movement to stop Joseph Kony and save the children.  From there, the video began to take a commercial feel.  I was behind the movement when they were trying to raise awareness about the issue, but when they started talking about purchasing bracelets, I was a little put off.  And when the class discussed this issue and found out that a lot of the money goes towards the Invisible Children worker’s salaries, it was particularly sleazy.  I agree with the Kony video and Invisible Children that something needs to be done, but I do not like the way they have been going about doing this.

Interestingly enough, I recently saw on the internet that Jason Russell, the maker of the KONY 2012 video, was arrested for possibly being under the influence of drugs or alcohol and for lewd public conduct.  A quick Google search would further explain what I mean.

The video was a great example of how rhetoric could be used to persuade an audience to help solve a problem.  It has given my group several ideas for our white papers.  We are thinking about putting in a lot more emotionally appeals and using tools described the Bowers book to strengthen our cause.  The paper has been progressing pretty well, but we need to focus on rhetoric and how we will make our solution much more effective

You are Not a Gadget

This was a post that I finished weeks ago that for some reason did not post in my blog.  Fortunately, it was saved as a draft.  This should be my third post:

 

This week, I began reading the book You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.  The book had an overly negative attitude towards technology.  Lanier essentially argued that humans are losing their freedom and human qualities by succumbing to a formulaic type of behavior.  This behavior is driven by technology, because certain websites such as Facebook and Twitter dictate a certain format for writing.  I disagree with his assertions.  Just because there is a structure to how humans publish their thoughts or feelings doesn’t make them any less human.  I found myself wondering what Lanier had against technology despite being a programmer himself.  Lanier made it a point to say he was not biased against technology, although that is totally unbelievable based on his obviously negative tone in the book.  He was complaining about absolutely absurd issues, and he gave extreme examples to support his anti-technology sentiments.

 

I find that this book is interesting, yet Lanier’s logic is flawed in many instances.  Being a student at an engineering school during an era of technological development, perhaps I am biased as well.  However, I would be more receptive to a more neutral opinion of how technology is affecting the world we live in.  To an extent, I can understand some of Lanier’s concerns about technology dehumanizing us, but he makes it seem like there are no advantages to this technology.  For example, Facebook, although formulaic in its layout, has helped connect millions of people throughout the world with old friends and family.  Lanier does not focus on these advantages, and instead chooses to point out only the flaws.  This book is very frustrating to read for the sole reason that Lanier does not give credit where it is due and instead chooses to focus on negative aspects of technology.  Hopefully the tone of the book becomes more neutral, because I find myself disagreeing with Lanier and writing his theories off as ludicrous because of my personal feelings towards his biased style of writing.

Digital Rhetorical Analysis Paper

Over the last few weeks, we began working on a group essay analyzing a digital rhetorical analysis tool.  This was a very interesting process for me, since I had never collaborated with other people while working on an essay.  I was interested to see how different writing styles would come together and how each group member would contribute.  Luckily, the process went very smoothly.  Using Google Docs, our group was able to work on the essay without even being able to physically meet up together.  It made it a lot easier to split up the work when we could all add to the same document at different times.

There were some problems with our method of splitting up the work.  While we efficiently worked on the essay, it was hard to know what each person was writing about because we were each so focused on writing our own sections of the essay.  It also made the transitions between each person’s writing a little choppy.  It was a challenge to get everyone on the same page at times, but before long we were all up to speed on what each group member was doing.  Our writing styles seemed to have meshed together fine, with a few tweaks here and there.

There was a lot to be gained from working on this paper, and I learned important skills about working in a group.  We did a very good job working together as a team, but there were improvements that could be made for future projects.  One problem that we ran into was finding time in everyone’s schedule to meet up in person.  While Google Docs is a good way to work together on a document, it doesn’t fill the void of human interaction and collaboration.  In the future, it might be better to meet more in person and be in constant communication throughout the project.  That way we would be less isolated when working on our part of the project and it truly feels like a team effort.  I was thankful that all members of the group did their fair share of the work and worked hard to make the best project possible.  If the burden of the essay fell on one person’s shoulders, it would have been a problem.  I also liked that this project gave me an opportunity to come up with a structured plan on how to work on the project.  I look forward to using what I learned about working in groups in future assignments.

This week we began reading Lanier’s You are Not a Gadget.  The book focused on the role of technology in the our lifestyles and how  technology dehumanizes us.  Lanier states early on that he is not biased in his opinions about technology, but it quickly becomes apparent that he has a very negative attitude towards technology.  Right away, this raises the question of his credibility as a writer.  I find it hard to agree with Lanier when he doesn’t realize his own bias is getting in the way of his argument.  He goes on to provide extreme examples to support his anti-technology claims, which also detracts form his credibility.

One of Lanier’s opening arguments is that humans are losing their freedom and their humanity by using web sites such as Facebook or Twitter.  Because there is a particular format that “limits” how people express themselves on this asocial networking websites, Lanier claims they are losing their creativity and becoming machine-like.  I completely  disagree with this.  Just because there is a structure or format as to how we express our opinions doesn’t mean we are restricted from being ourselves and being free to express opinions.  By that logic, the laws that govern society also dehumanize because they restrict us from behaving how we truly want to.

Another argument that he makes is that someday humans will make machines too smart and they will end up taking over the world.  To me, that is a totally illegal belief.  Humans control what they want machines to be able to do.  There is no way humans will ever empower machines to become smart or independent enough to beat out humans as the dominant species.

Although I vehemently disagree with a majority what Lanier has argued to this point in the book, I find his opinion interesting.  He definitely gives food for thought, but I don’t think there is much substance behind his argument.  It will be interesting to see how this book progresses and how my opinions either agree with or differ from Lanier’s.

Guerilla Girls

Recently, I read the about the Guerrilla Girls for class.  I learned who the guerrilla girls were and what they stood for, and how they used rhetoric to spread their message.

The Guerrilla Girls were a group of feminists who wore masks to protect their identity.  They called for the recognition of women artists, mainly because women were not given much attention in the past.  Because the Guerrilla Girls were active feminists in a time where women were not given equality, they had to wear masks to conceal their identities and be mindful of their critics.  They adopted the color pink as their official color because they realized that since pink was generally a more feminine color, their critics would be ready to use it against them.  By adopting pink as their color, it took away one of the insults or criticisms that people could use against them.

Women artists were unappreciated and unnoticed simply for the fact that they were women.  As a result, the Guerrilla Girls decided they needed to speak up.  They used provocative signs to draw attention and get people to think about how wrong it was that women artists were not represented in museums.  They used juxtaposing statements and images to draw attention.  Their signs appealed to people’s sense of logic, (Aristotle’s “logos”) as well as their ethics (“ethos”) to convince people that women artists were, in fact, talented and deserved to have their artwork displayed.  One of the most famous signs asks the question “Do women need to be naked it get into the Met. Museum?” while displaying a nude woman with a gorilla’s head.  This draws attention to how women are objectified by male artists as nude models and are treated as animals.  Meanwhile, their own artwork went by so unnoticed.  The Guerrilla Girls used rhetoric properly to get their audience to solve a problem, and it is a great example of a real world application of rhetoric.