Assignments Overview


Participation (10%)
First-Week Video (5%)
Short Blog Posts and Comments (25%)
Longer Blog Essay (15%)
Pecha-Kucha Presentation (15%)
Group Infographic and Presentation (15%)
Final Portfolio (15%)

Participation (10%)

Active participation doesn’t just mean showing up (though you have to do that to participate actively). To prepare well, you should come to class having done the reading and other assignments and thought about questions related to them. You should also actively and respectfully participate in class discussions and offer substantive feedback to classmates. If you would like to talk about ways to improve your participation, feel free to see me during office hours.

First-Week Video on “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling” (5%)

In the first week of class, we’ll discuss the common text from Georgia Tech’s Project One program, Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling.” Your first assignment will be to create a short video response. In our class, your response will be posted to the blog—so you might also think of the video as a way of introducing yourself to your classmates. Along with the video, you’ll post a reflection statement that describes the rhetorical choices you made. The prompt for this assignment has been posted here.

Short Blog Posts and Blog Comments (25%)

In the first week of class, you’ll set up an account on the blog. Each week during most of the semester , you’ll be responsible for either (a) posting a short (250-300 word) argumentative or experiential essay or (b) commenting briefly on 3 of your classmates’ posts [this requirement has changed as per the addendum below].

[Addendum, 10/1/2014: All the classes agreed to change the commenting requirement as follows:

  • The persons primarily responsible for commenting each week will be responsible for at least one, rather than the previously specified three, substantive comments. Since the quantity has gone done, expectations for quality go up a bit. Everyone in the class would prefer one really solid, useful comment to ten random, irrelevant ones. You should post on whichever posts interests you, but if there are posts without comments, you should try to find something interesting to say about them.
  • Authors of original posts should respond to some of the comments on their posts by Monday of the following week.
  • At the conclusion of the blog assignment, you will be responsible for showing evidence of your substantive engagement in comments sections, both as a commenter and as an author responding to comments.]

During the semester, you’ll write 3 blog posts that offer a short argument about a reading and 3 blog posts based on an experiential activity. Every two weeks, there will be a new experiential prompt and new readings to respond to. You can choose week by week which posts are about readings and which respond to the experiential prompts, but by the end of the semester, you should have completed three of each.

Your classmates and instructor will be the primary readership of these posts, but you should also think about a wider potential readership, since they will be accessible to the Internet at large.

The experiential prompts will be posted to the blog as the semester goes along, and require a bit of work beyond the writing itself, for example:

    • Tracking some kind of data about yourself for a time and writing about the significance of that experience
    • Coming up with and carrying out a small experiment using Google’s n-gram viewer
    • Googling yourself and thinking about how the Internet version of you compares to the real you
    • Analyzing material from your Facebook NewsFeed or Twitter feed
    • Create a visualization of data using Many Eyes
    • Finding and analyzing an infographic or short informative web video

In weeks when you’re not responsible for posting, you’ll be responsible for commenting. Carefully read posts by at least three classmates, and offer a comment that reacts to or extends that person’s ideas, that points the person to a potentially useful idea or resource, or that raises a new question for discussion suggested by that person’s post. There is no set word-length requirement for comments, but they shouldn’t be more than 50-75 words.

You’ll write a total of 6 of these short blog posts during the semester, though you’ll also be writing other posts related to other assignments. You’ll receive feedback from the instructor on your blog activity after the first 2 posts and at the end of the semester.

Longer blog essay (15%)

Over the course of the semester, you must write one longer blog essay of 1200-1500 words. You will develop a topic of your own related to the general theme of “Data, Information, and Culture.” While course readings may prove relevant to your topic, you should also plan to include outside research. The primary mode of this assignment is writing, but you must also include substantive multimodal elements, such as images, graphs, videos, sounds, or charts.

After feedback from the instructor on the initial version of this paper, you may revise substantially for a new grade that replaces 2/3 of the 15%.

The schedule for longer essays, which was initially oriented toward four separate due dates, has been revised as of 9/24. Instead of separate due dates, we will work together to develop topics, and the schedule will build in a peer-review process.

Timeline for papers:

    • Bring ideas for topics to class: 10/6
    • Rough drafts submitted to peer reviewers and instructor by 10/24, 11:59 p.m.
    • Feedback emailed to peers/instructor by 10/29, 11:59 p.m.
    • Longer essays posted to blog by 11/3, 11:59 p.m.
    • Feedback from instructor will be returned by 11/17, 11:59 p.m.
    • Optional revisions to paper due by 11/26, 11:59 p.m.

Pecha-Kucha Presentation (15%)

In a pecha-kucha presentation, the presenter displays 20 slides for 20 seconds each. A pecha-kucha, then, takes precisely 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Since the slides go by so quickly, the slides tend to feature a single vivid image or a short phrase rather than a large amount of text. In this class, you’ll develop a pecha-kucha on a topic related to the course theme, present it to the class, record it, and post it to the web on our blog.

We’ll talk about pecha-kuchas early in the semester, and you’ll sign up for a day to present early on. When your day arrives, we’ll begin class with your pecha-kucha and a brief discussion of its topic before the rest of the class’s activities.

Recorded pecha-kuchas must be posted to the course blog within one week of the in-class presentation.

Group Assignment: Infographic and Presentation (15%)

Toward the end of the semester, you will work with 2-3 classmates for focused research on some complex topic. Your group will be responsible for creating an infographic that makes this complex topic digestible in visual and written form. In the last weeks of class, you’ll present your infographic in class and on the blog and, if you wish, in other Internet fora. You’ll finally write a group reflection about the choices that went into your infographic.

Final portfolio (15%)

Over the course of the semester, you’ll gather drafts, artifacts, and reflections for a final portfolio. This program-wide assignment will also involve a 1200-1800 word self-review essay in which you introduce the portfolio and assess your own progress. We will talk about the portfolio early in the semester, because you must include evidence of revision and multiple drafts of various artifacts.