“The Really Big One” Blog Post

I really enjoyed reading Kathryn Schulz’s article, “The Really Big One”. Schulz was able to fit so much valuable information in the article while keeping it fun and entertaining to read. Amazingly, even though the subject matter was very serious, she was able to maintain a casual tone through out the piece without losing ethos or credibility. Additionally, the lack of complex jargon in the text compliments the casual tone and adds to the enjoyment of reading.

The casual tone is blatantly obvious in the first section of the piece, which details one guy’s experience with the now infamous 2011 Japan earthquake. This section alternates between a personal, novel-like description of the guy’s experience and the author stating facts pertaining to the events. For example, a paragraph that discusses the correlation between duration of earthquakes to magnitude is followed directly by a paragraph that leads with “When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi.” A few paragraphs later the piece reads, “Oh, shit, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. (…) For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science.” The very next paragraph reads “In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars.” The ability of the author to go from casually talking about someone’s thoughts to “tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people” without losing ethos or confusing the reader’s emotions is what I found most impressive about the piece.

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Project Nim Blog Entry

project-nimProject Nim is a moving documentary depicting the trials and tribulations of an experiment with the goal of teaching a chimp sign language. The purpose of the documentary is to not only inform viewers of this experiment but to highlight the ethical dilemmas involved in experiments like this. An important strategy used by the creators is to remain neutral on all subjects and issues depicted in the film, which adds to its credibility.

When creating any form of nonfiction text, remaining neutral and reciting facts without bias are some of the most important aspects to maintain. In Project Nim, every situation is presented evenly on both sides, no matter how controversial. A good example of this is the presentation of the LEMSIP controversy, which involved Nim (the chimpanzee subject of the film) getting transferred from an environment where he had multiple caring keepers and free range over a vast plot of land to a research facility (LEMSIP) that restricted him to a cage and conducted unethical tests. The caregivers from Nim’s previous home, who were extremely against the transfer and the treatment of the chimp, and the lead scientist from the LEMSIP facility were both interviewed for this segment to give the viewers opposing viewpoints. Additionally, when discussing the tension between the conductors of the experiment in the initial stages, people from both sides were interviewed. This balance gives the viewers the ability to form their own opinions on the events that took place, which is a central element of documentaries.

“Waiting for Light” Blog Entry

“Waiting for Light” by Jake Abrahamson is an eye opening piece of scientific writing, detailing the need for clean and affordable light sources in underdeveloped areas (specifically northeastern India) and how the problem is being addressed. An important observation to make is this article is written for the Sierra Club, which is an environmental advocacy nonprofit, so before reading the reader should know its purpose is to inspire interest in an environmental cause. This piece does exactly that. The first section of the article (first 4 paragraphs) is a great representation of the article as a whole, so analyzing it allows for meaningful insight on the whole article.

The piece begins with a novel-like description of the setting, which is an attempt to draw the reader in to the story. It proceeds to introduce the company that is working towards the solution to the lack of reliable lighting in northeastern India by providing rechargeable LED lanterns to those in need, and outlines the company’s past success and future plans. Additionally, the demand for these lights is detailed with powerful statistics such as. ‘roughly 400 million of India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants lack access to electricity–more than the combined populations of the United States and Canada,’ which contributes to the logical appeal (logos) of the writing. Interestingly, the author decides to use United States and Canada to put 400 million people in perspective. This could be for a few different reasons. First off, most readers reside in either the U.S. or Canada so the comparison is relatable. Secondly, both Canada and the U.S. are highly developed first world countries so trying to imagine both populations without proper lighting is awfly hard to do for the average reader. Finally, the combined population of Canada and U.S. is just over 350 million, so the comparison to 400 million is valid and appropriate. The article continues in a similar fashion, mixing novel like descriptions with statistics to add credibility (ethos) and logical appeal (logos), making the article a particularly persuasive and interesting one.

Article Comparison Blog Entry

It’s amazing how much the target audience of a piece can influence the writing. This is especially true in the scientific writing genre, where when addressing the general public versus addressing a higher level scientific community the writing is drastically different. This observation is apparent in the comparison of John Toon and Samantha Cole’s articles, which both discuss the development of a robot modeled after an influential ancient fish, but differ greatly in composition.

John Toon’s article, titled ‘Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 Million Years Ago’, is published in the Georgia Tech News Center website, which has a very small, scientific-focused audience. Samantha Cole’s article ‘Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked On Land’, on the other hand, is published in Popular Science and has a much more broad, and low-level audience. The first thing you notice when you read Cole’s Popular Science article is a blaring half page ad, while on the Georgia Tech News Center site the first ad is at the very bottom on the webpage. This difference points to the differing types of organizations Popular Science (money driven cooperation) and Georgia Tech (nonprofit academic institution). Another notable difference is how short Cole’s article is in comparison to Toon’s, which once again is a reflection of the target audience. A  Popular Science reader isn’t looking to read a full length essay on high level research, but rather a short synopsis on a cool advancement in science. Additionally, Toon’s article begins with a short video that gives insight on the articles subject and pushes the audience to learn more, while Cole’s includes just a gif (an automatically played, no audio clip) of the video from Tech’s website, which saves the reader time and provides key visual aid paired with the text but does not give the reader any further motivation to continue reading. While these articles address the same thing, they have very different compositions, which is a direct reflection of the audience they are writing towards.

Websites Analysis Blog Entry

With virtually everyone in the word having some way to access the internet, the design of an organization’s website is vitally important to its success. When trying to learn more about a certain topic or organization, almost everyone turns to the internet, as it is the most effective and efficient way to gain information. Companies are investing millions into the design of their websites to take advantage of this reality.

When comparing the websites of the Jackson Laboratory and Navs, right off the bat, I noticed that the Jackson Laboratory’s website was far more aesthetically pleasing. With a very intuitive design I was able to quickly get an idea of what the organization was all about. On its homepage, viewers are introduced to one of their lead scientists, Duygu Ucar. Not only is this is an appeal to their credibility (ethos), it counters the stereotype that genetics is a male dominated field. As you scroll down, in giant all capital letters, you see “experts: ‘animal-based studies will be essential for precision medicine’”. This is another appeal to ethos and pushes the general purpose of the organization. I was not convinced by this, however, as it is an extremely vague quote and a misuse of apostrophes. Unless a bunch of ‘experts’ said that exact quote, which is extremely unlikely, the apostrophes should not have been in use. This is a tabloid style argument and was not effective.

A notable difference in Jackson Laboratory’s website from many similar websites is it lacks a big ‘donate’ or ‘join’ button. The Navs website has a much more obvious ‘donate’ button, highlighted orange, which leads me to believe they rely more on funding from the general public than the Jackson Laboratory.

While the Jackson Laboratory is far more visually pleasing, I believe the Navs website is more professional and therefore left me with a better impression. I, however, am taking a critical look at these websites, so the typical viewer may find the Jackson Laboratory’s website to be more effective as they may subconsciously value aesthetics over content.

Kintisch Blog Entry

A common theme in contemporary scientific writing is the attempt to reach a broader audience. Only a few decades ago research was intended to be spread only within the elite scientific community and the highly educated in the field. More recently however scientific writings have become more and more accessible to the general public. Eli Kintisch’s “Into the Maelstrom” is a great example of this trend.

This piece centers on the works of Jennifer Francis, who ‘s groundbreaking climate change research rattled the scientific community. Kintisch’s article begins with a personal description of an important talk Francis gave in front of other prominent scientists. This personal touch appeals to readers of the general public, allowing them to connect and identify with the subject more. The article continues with a very scientific explanation of Francis’ research, which on the surface may seem to disengage the average reader. However, this explanation is brief and allows the reader to walk away from the text feeling that they have learned something. Kintisch then reengages the reader with a novel-like description of a trip Francis took that pushed her research and her love of craft forward. It details struggles that she faced along the way and turns the article into somewhat of a motivational story. Almost any reader can connect with and appreciate this story – from your average Joe to an expert in the field. Mixed in through out this is more of her specific research findings, which furthers the reader’s education. The purpose of this article was to be fun and informative for any reader and I believe the author succeeded in this purpose.

Works-in-Progress

Portfolio Revision Plan:

 

Portfolio Argument

Over the course of the semester in English 1101 my rhetorical writing ability developed significantly, having learned new techniques to form deeper and more organized arguments. I learned how to better think critically about specific topics that my arguments concerned. Completing blog posts weekly allowed me to practice techniques learned in class and projects allowed for the culmination of new writing and thinking skills to be applied to a more extensive, multimodal outcome. Additionally, class discussion helped me to improve my oral communication skill set and diversified my analysis of discussed topics, improving my critical thinking process. The areas I saw the most improvement during the course was critical thinking and organization and depth of argument. I began to ask why a writer included a specific element or why a movie presented a certain tone, rather than just thinking about what the writer included or what the tone of the movie was. My oral communication ability still needs work, however, and through out my years at Georgia Tech and beyond I will take every opportunity I can to improve this.

 

Learning Outcomes for English 1101

In writing a blog entry on Eli Kintisch’s “Into the Maelstrom”, I utilized critical thinking skills by analyzing the way the text targets a specific audience and looking at general trends pertaining to this audience in scientific writing. This allowed me to get deeper understanding of the argument of the text because the audience and the purpose/argument are directly linked.

“It details struggles that she faced along the way and turns the article into somewhat of a motivational story. Almost any reader can connect with and appreciate this story – from your average Joe to an expert in the field.”

In this passage I showed how the writing style changed the purpose of the text and therefore changed the targeted audience. The article detailing personal struggles pushes the audience to a more broad, less educated base, while simultaneously shifting the purpose to more of an entertainment piece. Being able to critically think about the meaning behind the trend I was observing allowed for a deeper analysis of the text.

 

Group: Bharat, Eli and James

  • What I like:
    • choice of text (Truman’s Show)
    • deep analysis
    • video scene
  • What needs improvement:
    • background/context
    • “The Really Big One” analysis
    • argument + relationship with science
  • Argument:
    • knowledge/information leads to action

 

Quotation Sandwich Practice (11/2)

Original text –

“John Toon’s article, titled ‘Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 Million Years Ago’, is published in the Georgia Tech News Center website, which has a very small, scientific-focused audience. Samantha Cole’s article ‘Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked On Land’, on the other hand, is published in Popular Science and has a much more broad, and low-level audience. The first thing you notice when you read Cole’s Popular Science article is a blaring half page ad, while on the Georgia Tech News Center site the first ad is at the very bottom on the webpage. This difference points to the differing types of organizations Popular Science (money driven cooperation) and Georgia Tech (nonprofit academic institution).”

Revised with Sandwich –

“John Toon’s article, titled ‘Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 Million Years Ago’, is published in the Georgia Tech News Center website, which has a very small, scientific-focused audience. Samantha Cole’s article ‘Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked On Land’, on the other hand, is published in Popular Science and has a much more broad, and low-level audience. The first thing you notice when you read Cole’s Popular Science article is the quality and significance of  ads on the page (as shown below).

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 1.36.38 PM.png

Popular science is a business designed to make money, and because access to online articles is free, they load the page with ads. The primary purpose of the publication is not to actually inform its readers, so Popular Science is perfectly fine having ads cause more visual stimulation than the actual article. The Georgia Tech News Center site, however, is quite different. The first ad is at the very bottom on the webpage and the page looks like this when you first click on it:

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 1.46.27 PM.png

–ran out of time–

“Curious” by Kim Todd

Argument –

Kim Todd’s piece investigates the complexities of curiosity and why its part of the nature of humans. She asserts that curiosity is both a vice and virtue in that it can lead to innovation, but can also lead to conflict and drawbacks.

Quote –

“For much of history, though, coveting the secrets of the world and mulling over mushrooms and vipers threatened to drag one from thoughts of God. Religious and worldly contemplation were at odds. omas Brooks, an English nonconformist preacher of the early 1600s, warned, ‘Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curios- ity is spiritual drunkenness.'”

Understanding of quote –

This quote explains how years ago, curiosity was seen a defying god and caused conflict. This explicitly furthers her point that curiosity can be a vice or virtue.

Ted Talk: Emily Grasslie

Argument – 

While curiosity exists in everyone, it needs to be sparked. You can’t be curious about something you haven’t been introduced to. Technology does not lead to further curiosity it is the people and things that led to the development of technology that drive curiosity.

Quote –

“We should all be curiosity correspondents.”

Understanding of Quote –

This quote demonstrates that curiosity is within us all and we should pursue it.

 

Transforming Science Purpose

 

The purpose of our translation is to allow for greater access to an important piece of high level research at GT to a lower level audience, inspiring interest and potentially increasing future involvement and support.

 

Popular Science and GT News Center Article Comparison

These two articles cover the same topic but are extremely different. In Popular Science, the article has a much broader audience (hence the name Popular Science), uses less scientific vocabulary, and is quite a bit shorter. The GT news center, on the other hand, goes much further in depth, has a more narrow and interested audience, and uses higher level scientific vocabulary. Another major difference is the quantity and the type of ads. On the GT website the ads are exclusively advertising Georgia Tech related things. The Popular Science website is littered with ads advertising everything from Nissan to PayPal.

 

In-class Spinning Science Reflection

  1. Peer project grade
    • Rhetorical Awareness: Competent
    • Stance: Mature
    • Development of Ideas: Mature
    • Organization: Mature
    • Conventions: Exemplary
    • Design for medium: Mature
  2. For my project, I learned that my conclusion wasn’t extensive enough and my introduction includes irrelevant information. Also I need to expand on my points in my body paragraphs and clarify my stance.
  3. I plan to first organize my thoughts in order to improve the clarification of my stance. Then, will add to the intro and conclusion paragraphs with further analysis on rhetorical devices in the ad.

 

Out-of-Class Spinning Science Reflection

Although the photo essay genre of writing is not widely discussed (I had not heard of it before this assignment), it is becoming increasingly popular. Websites such as Buzzfeed and Clickhole almost exclusively post articles in the form of photo essays. In writing my photo essay, I found that it has an extremely intuitive design, especially when analyzing visual advertisements. When analyzing a certain part of the advertisement, I was able to just insert a snapshot of the evaluated part to provide visual aid to the reader and make my point easier to understand. After contemplating the arguments I wanted to make, I chose the pictures that best helped the reader understand what I was arguing. I hope the reader learns to always question scientific claims in ads and do some research before investing in a product or service.

 

img_20160912_134756871Spinning Science Introduction

Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeo7zPzZwIk

23andMe is a relatively new company with the goal of providing direct to consumer genetic testing to allow customers to find more about themselves. Dispite reports of the inaccuracy of the testing, consumers continue to buy into this product and the company’s value has skyrocketed to $241 million since being founded in 2008. This could be attributed to their successful ad campaign.

The ad I chose to spotlight does a great job utilizing all forms of appeals to convince the viewer to buy their product. The ad opens with a slide show of comforting images most of which are of people smiling and a voice saying ‘this is a story… about you… the incredible you’. This opening scene evokes pathos, and inspires self-love and the passion to find out more about yourself. The ad continues a voice saying ‘it starts with your DNA’ and simultaneously showing a picture of a finger, with its print emphasized, which is a universal symbol for the uniqueness of a person. In its description of the company, the ad makes a point of letting the potential customer know that the product ‘includes reports that meet FDA standards’, which is an appeal to ethos. Upon further research, I found that the in 2013 the FDA forced 23andMe to discontinue a major part of its service that reported on the health of the consumer because it ‘had not obtained the legally required regulatory approval resulting in concerns about the potential consequences of customers receiving inaccurate health results.’ On October 21, 2015, the FDA approved a revised version of their service and the company begun selling their full service again. The addition of ‘includes reports that meet FDA standards’ into the ad instills confidence in consumers who may have heard about their issues with the FDA. The emphasis on science in this ad adds to this confidence and is the center selling point in this product.

 

 

Description of first week video process…

What steps did you find most effective/least effective?

I found that, with this project, spacing out the time I worked allowed me to be more efficient and productive, as is the case with most work. Whenever I go stuck, or experienced “writers block”, I did something else like got some exercise or ate a meal. This allowed me to clear my thoughts and start fresh when I begun again. What was not effective was trying to film this project while my roommate was sleeping. I had to be as quiet as possible while still trying to sound confident and poised. I ended up have to wait until the following morning (the morning it was due) to film it.

What part of your project do you like the best?

I definitely value my script over all other parts of the project. I put much more time and thought into the script than the filming process. If I had managed my time a bit better this may have not been the case. Also, I made a point of reading over the script numerous times before filming so the delivery was smooth.

If you could redo any part of the project would you redo?

If I had the chance to redo this project I would definitely try to structure my time better. I ended up spending a lot more time writing the script than doing the other parts of the project. I feel like I would have a much higher quality project if I organized a plan for completion in advance rather than just diving in. They say that time management is one of the biggest takeaways people have from college and I definitely learned that here.