Tag Archives: format


Our current plan is to spend about half our class time next Friday sharing and thinking through “proto-drafts” of  your digital essays.

We’ll work in groups of four. Each of you will have about 20 minutes to walk your readers through your essay as it now stands—notes, materials, plans aspirations—with the goal of getting some useful feedback as you put together your first “real” draft of your piece, which is due on Tues, 4/29, at 11:59 pm.

No advance posting or reading is required. But we agreed that each of you would come to class with something like:

  1. A one-page overview of your project (probably a Word document, and it is probably a good idea to bring print copies);
  2. Some version of the frame or format of your piece, however rough or tentative. That is, if you think you’ll end up presenting your work on a WordPress or Tumblr site (or Prezi, or iMovie, or whatever), create a mock-up of what your essay might  actually look like.
  3. A list of the important texts or materials you’ll be working with. I suspect that , again, this might be most usefully formatted (for both you and your readers) as Word document, but I can imagine it taking other forms (links on a WordPress page, for instance).
  4. Anything else. Actual materials, notes, drafts, outlines, video clips, etc.  I have found it useful, at the start of similar projects, to create folders labeled: Videos, Audios, Images, Texts, Notes. But you should create and work with whatever taxonomy makes most sense for you.  One way or the other, though, you’ll want to be able to walk your readers through the “stuff” of your project and  to describe what you hope to do with it.

This is, in one sense, a low-stakes assignment, since it will not be graded and, in fact, I may not even see it. But, in another sense, it’s a high-stakes moment, since this is the first time when you are being asked to move from idea  (“I’m thinking about . . .”) to text (“Here’s what I’ve got so far. . “).  Take advantage of this moment. My hunch is that doing so will help you formulate your first draft.

x1: Responding to Baron


Your basic task in posting to this blog is to respond to the book you’ve just read in ways that will help us think and talk more about it in seminar—that point to interesting or puzzling moments in the text, that open up new lines of inquiry, that suggest connections with other texts or issues. One measure of your response, then, will be the responses it prompts—both online and in class. Your aim should be to move our conversation forward.

My advice, then, is to try to extend more than criticize. I’m willing to bet that any time twelve students of culture and literature come together to discuss a text, that most of the gaps and problems with it will somehow get noted. I don’t think we have to worry about that. And so I encourage you, in your first approach to a text, to see how you can think along with its author—adding to or updating their thinking, applying their ideas to new examples or situations.  We’ll get to critique soon enough.

A Better Pencil

Turning specifically to our reading for next week: Dennis Baron is someone I’ve long admired.  He is a pithy and forceful writer, and a dennis_baronrecondite scholar of language. He knows more about the history of writing technologies than any of us ever will. But he published A Better Pencil in 2009,  a long time ago when measured in web years. Much has happened since then in the digital revolution he seeks to describe and explain. I encourage you to look for recent examples of digital composing that will test, extend, and perhaps revise some of his ideas.


Aim for a post of about 400–500 words. Feel free to make use of images, audio, video, or hyperlinks if they help you move your thinking forward. (In the coming weeks I will require you to experiment with such media in your responses.)

Be professional. Compose and edit your response offline before posting it to this site. Make sure your links work, and that you document sources and quotations.

Use x1 as your category and come up with at least three good tags to identify this specific post. (My rule of thumb is that categories identify the kind of post you are writing, while tags highlight keywords and concepts in it.)

The deadline for your post is 4:00 pm on Tues, 2/18. You may revise your writing at any point before then. Please see Comments and tweets for the next stage of our work.