A re-revolution in writing technology

In the beginning, when people began writing, they first started making use of writing technology on a mass scale in the context of political and economic list-making. Whether tax, tribute, or otherwise commercial in nature, goods were delivered with a list of materials included for verification.

What is the point of lists, whether in the context of the ancient or modern world? In antiquity, lists served as the basic economic communication tool. In the twenty-first century, modern Web pages now serve a very similar purpose: think about bullet-points, sidebars, and how few full paragraphs appear on good Websites.

Here in this course we are going to use the concept of list-making to begin organizing our thoughts towards producing topic ideas, research questions, and thesis statements. Scary words, I know, but take a look at the two examples above—they are intended to inspire ease and communicate just how practical—and essential to writing—list-making is.

The Concept:

Organize topics into research questions—not thesis statements: thesis statements will become the answers to the questions posed by your research questions only after the research is done.

  • Topic Ideas
  • Research Questions
  • Thesis Statement

Read the essay posted below, under Responses to “A re-revolution in writing technology.”

The Assignment:

Build a Website/blog incorporating the principles of the research question approach into the menus, widgits, and pages of your blog. You are, of course, welcome to add as many pages to your blog as you like, however five (5) pages will be required for this course as follows:

a. “Freewriting”–we will be revising our freewriting later in the semester as a requirement of the writing intensive designation of this course. Freewriting revisions will be posted here.

b. “Distillation”–beginning the third week of the semester, we will work on two writing assignments designed to help you think about the power of your words. Distillation assignments will be posted here.

c. “Topics”–based on the ideas discussed here on this Web page, create three (3) topics Web pages and add them to your blog. Remember that topics are not thesis statements–you have far more freedom to explore topics of interest or importance from your perspective. You may choose topics dealing with dance, sports, hobbies, pet peeves, passions, exercise, work, etc. . . . anything!

The one caveat is that you respect the community and keep it non-violent.

Post the URL to your site/blog in the “Leave a Reply” section below.

The Instructions:
  • Go to http://wordpress.com/ and click on “Get Started.” Enter your University of Minnesota email address and user name (choose something personal or use your x.500 number). Complete the required information and create a free WordPress blog. Visit your new blog, copy the URL at the top of the page, and post the URL link in the “Leave a Reply” field at the bottom of the A re-revolution in writing technology Webpage. Please note: this is the real World Wide Web. If you wish to remain anonymous, or if you choose any user name other than your x.500, please send that information directly to me via email at renwick@umn.edu so that I can identify your blog.

You are welcome to begin playing around with your new blog. Go to the “Dashboard” and 1) choose a Theme (Appearance>Themes), 2) create a Main Menu (Appearance>Menus), and 3) begin to build pages (Pages>Add New) to post your content and populate your Main Menu. We will be doing all of this together in the computer lab (see Class Calendar for details), but you are welcome to start without us and volunteer to help others in lab.

(Note: different themes allow for different levels of design capability. If you have trouble making your blog “look” like you want it to, use a different theme.)

For Discussion:

How are lists like annotations? Citations?


23 responses to “A re-revolution in writing technology

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