Blog Prompts, Weeks of 9/7 and 9/14

Blog posts are due at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night. The commenting group should read classmates’ posts and comment on 3 of them by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday night. Every two weeks, you’ll have the option of writing an experiential post or a reading-response post: by the end of the semester, you will have written 3 of each.

Please make sure you mark the appropriate category for your post in WordPress, and add 3 tags relevant to your post.

Experiential Option

Our WOVENText reading for class on September 8 focuses on visual images. In this experiential post, you’ll analyze the visual rhetoric of an image that attempts to encapsulate a complex set of data or information into an approachable form. Such an image might be an infographic or visualization you have found on the Internet, or it might be something you’ve found elsewhere and photographed. A menu, for example, attempts to convey a complex set of information, as does the design of a web page, a road sign, a map, many T-shirts, etc.

The key in such an analysis is not to re-explain the obvious, but to analyze the non-obvious: to make an argument for how an image is deploying rhetoric to convey information, to make us feel certain ways, to make implicit arguments, and to establish authority.

Your post should begin with an image: a screenshot from the web, a borrowed image (with clear attribution, or a photograph. The 250-300-word text of your post should point to pertinent details and analyze how they come together into a coherent (or possibly incoherent) rhetorical whole. The question you should have in your mind is “what does this image do beyond conveying information straightforwardly?”

If you’d like to use a visual-annotation tool such as Skitch to emphasize certain parts of an image, you are welcome to do so; clearly written sentences will also do the trick.

Reading-Response Option

In this reading-response prompt, you’ll attempt to put the reading at hand in conversation with a reading we have read before in class or a related reading you have found elsewhere.

In 250-300 words, use a comparison between the way the reading at hand (Gladwell for the 9/9 group, Vaidhyanathan for the 9/16 group) addresses some aspect of the issues we’ve been discussing and the way some other text does to make an argument responding to the text at hand. The other text can be one of the readings we’ve already discussed (Chiang, Gleick, Mayer-Schönberger/Cukier), or some other article you have found elsewhere. You might find, for example, a blog post that directly responds to Gladwell’s (or Vaidhyanathan’s) article or a blog post/article that approaches the problem differently.

The key here is to skillfully manage evidence from two sources even as you make an argument that is clearly your own.

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