Category Archives: The Week Ahead

Week of 10/27

This week, we’ll finish up the pecha-kucha presentations and begin thinking about the end of the semester. We’ll look toward wrapping up the blog assignment, beginning our discussion of data in the humanities, and planning for final portfolios. Screenshot 2014-10-27 08.09.33

Monday, October 27

We’ll continue with a full schedule of pecha-kucha presentations.

Wednesday, October 29

In sections A and J1, we’ll have one pecha-kucha presentation. Then, we’ll move on to a discussion of the end of the semester. First, we’ll go over guidelines for the final portfolios. Next, we’ll talk about wrapping up the blog assignment (which will be finished after the next round of posts and comments, in the weeks of 11/3 and 11/10. Then, I’ll briefly preview the infographic/visualization assignment, which we’ll begin working on in earnest next week.

Friday, October 31

Today marks the final round of pecha-kucha presentations.


Week of 10/19

Screenshot 2014-10-20 11.32.19

This week, we’ll continue with student presentations of pecha-kuchas. On Wednesday, we’ll discuss matters related to the longer essays and pecha-kucha recordings/reflections. On Friday, you’ll distribute a rough draft of your longer essay to two peers.

A reminder that the blog posts for this two-week period have been canceled to give you more time to work on pecha-kuchas and longer essays.

Monday, October 20

Student pecha-kucha presentations.

Wednesday, October 22

Today, we’ll discuss a variety of logistical matters: recording and reflections for the pecha-kuchas, for example, and best practices for citing sources in your longer essays. We’ll also talk about the feedback you will be giving classmates on their rough drafts. The reading for today is optional, but it’s interesting, so I’ve left it as an optional reading on the syllabus.

Please note: my office hours Wednesday will be from 2:00-3:30 instead of the usual time.

Friday, October 24

Student pecha-kucha presentations. This evening, you’ll email your rough draft to 2 peers to get their feedback on your draft.

Week of 10/12


As we return from what has hopefully been a restful fall break, we’ll turn our attention to education and data reform. We’ll also begin hearing—and seeing—the work of classmates in the pecha-kucha presentations.

Wednesday, October 15

The reading for today is a think-tank piece about how big data and analytics can/will change the way colleges do assessment. I’ll ask you to reflect on your own experiences with the datafied education system, which undoubtedly included lots of standardized testing and preparation for the same. We’ll also talk about proper citation practices for your multimodal blog essays.

Friday, October 17

Today, your classmates will begin presenting their pecha-kuchas to the class. You should come ready to listen attentively and to ask question that push the class’s conversation forward. Presenters should email (or otherwise share) their Powerpoint presentations with me before class—things will go smoothly if everyone presents from  the main classroom computer. Each presenter will have around 10 minutes—6:40 for the p-k, and about 3 minutes for questions and answers.

Potentially Interesting Links/Resources
  • Relevant to our discussion of education and data: an article arguing that contrary to conventional wisdom, American public schools are better than they’ve ever been.
  • We’re all used to hearing that Wikipedia is a no-no when it comes to classroom research and writing. This article argues on the contrary that it can be a great teaching and learning tool.
  • Data-journalism guru Nate Silver argues for some of the qualities that makes for a good infographic. The piece includes examples of strong infographics, such as this one about famous writers’ sleep habits and productivity. A selection:



Week of 10/5

This week, we’ll continue working toward our pecha-kucha presentations and longer multimodal essays as we continue pursuing our discussion of surveillance, transparency, and leaks in the era of big data. Prompts for the week’s short blog posts can be located here.

Screenshot 2014-10-05 10.02.57

Monday, October 6

We’ll begin class with another sample pecha-kucha presentation. Then, we’ll spend some time thinking about oral presentation techniques—read the WOVENText chapter on oral communication in advance of class, and come prepared with questions. In the second half of class, we’ll worked to refine topics for the longer multimodal blog essay.

Wednesday, October 8

We’ll devote today to an extended discussion of surveillance, transparency, and mass leaks. We’ll think about the Assange reading we did last week and the Snowden material we’ll read this week. If you wrote a reading-response post that introduces a resource related to either Assange or Snowden, come to class prepared to discuss it.

Friday, October 10

Today, you should bring a significant portion of your pecha-kucha script, talking points, or outline. I won’t expect you to have full drafts finished, but you should bring evidence of significant work already done. We’ll devote most of the day to workshopping these scripts.

Potentially Interesting Links/Resources

Screenshot 2014-10-05 10.12.06

  • An infographic about the variety of ways of displaying information in charts and graphs.



  • A data-heavy argument that the idea of the “Freshman 15” is a myth.
  • An article about controversial new features Apple has built into iPhones that lock the NSA and other government agencies out. The headline announces a “Post-Snowden Era” in which companies seek to protect consumers’ privacy rights.

Week of 9/28

This week, we’ll shift our attention from data and information in social media to the implications of mass datafication for state surveillance. In particular, we’ll be interested in the recent phenomenon of mass leaks of secret government information. We’ll talk about some changes that I’m making after Friday’s student feedback, from the blog setup to readings to assignment prompts. We’ll begin working toward the pecha-kucha presentations in earnest, and we’ll try to improve the comment discussions we’ve been having on the blog.

Monday, September 29

At the beginning of class, I’ll field questions about the new blog setup and outline some tweaks I’m making to the class after Friday’s feedback. Then, I’ll introduce the pecha-kucha assignment more fully. Most of the class, however, will be spent in a brainstorming and topic-narrowing exercise for the pecha-kucha presentations. You should leave class with a clearer idea of what your p-k may be about and with some resources to help you plan it.

Wednesday, October 1

The primary reading for Wednesday is Raffi Khatchadourian’s “No Secrets,” a profile of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, from 2010. The “Wikileaks Manifesto” has been made optional. Today, we’ll begin to explore surveillance and transparency as we also try to improve the blog.

One recurring comment in the anonymous feedback on Friday involved the current lack of active discussion in comments sections on the blog. One student noted that people tended to “half-ass” the comments, and that blog authors never responded.

On Wednesday, we’ll work on ways to improve the comments and make them substantive and useful. We’ll have a discussion about ideas for improving blog discussion. Then, we’ll  have discussions about Wikileaks in the comments section of reading-response posts. Your commenting responsibilities for the week, Group A, will likely be fulfilled by work we do in class.

Friday, October 3

This week, I’ll work on developing a pecha-kucha presentation of my own related to our course theme. I’ll begin class on Friday by performing this pecha-kucha, and I’ll field questions about the topic and the form of the presentation.

During most of the rest of class, we’ll be working to design slides for your own pecha-kuchas.

Potentially Interesting Links/Resources

Here are some links related to our course theme (and to communication in general) that might interest you:

  • “Collateral Murder,” the leaked video that brought Wikileaks to prominence, can be viewed below. Be warned, of course, that the content herein is disturbing.

  • This article by Stephen Pinker thinks about why so much writing in our culture is bad. He basically argues that it’s because we have a great deal of difficulty imagining the experiences of our readers.
  • This article from a couple weeks ago uses data to argue that Republicans and Democrats have such trouble getting along because of basic differences: Republicans are driven primarily by philosophy, while Democrats are driven primarily by a desire for policy changes.
  • This infographic on “What Makes an Infographic Bad” may help you think about visuals in your pecha-kuchas, and again later in the semester in your infographics. A sample:

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