Writing in Digital Environments

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Design Plans w/ 3 Qs

3 most important questions graphic

Here is today’s class agenda. We are getting to the heart of the matter now and starting in on our semester-long projects.

Finding Your Passion:

  1. Composition as Design (file found in the Class Notes Page of Canvas)
  2. Watch: Gary Vaynerchuk’s Web 2.0 Expo NY talk
  3. Complete Vishen Lakhiani’s Three Most Important Questions activity as preparation for writing your design plans
  4. Review the Design Plan project and how the Three Questions activity serves as your first step in that project.
  5. Review the Website and Blog Project
  6. Work on drafting your design plan


Use the Three Questions activity to write your design plan (due Tues. Sept. 6)
Read: Reid, Why Blog?
Read: The Web Writing Style Guide, Introduction (p. 2-24)


Web 2.0, Intro. to Rhetoric, and Sherman Activity

Keep calm, you're going to do fine this semester. Everything is all right.

Welcome back! You’ve made it to day two of class. 😉

We have a lot to do today, so let’s get to it.

Web 2.0 (10 minutes)
First, we need to answer this question: what is Web 2.0 and what does it have to do with the work we will be doing this semester? The video we watched last time by anthropology professor Michael Wesch will help us answer it. Go to Canvas and answer the question (WTL #1) posted there. We will often have a Write to Learn (WTL) to open the class so get in the habit of checing there at the beginning of class.

Rhetorical Situations and Design Plans (15 minutes)
Let’s start by using Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman’s post game interview to review some of the rhetorical terminology that you will read about for homework.

  • What is the purpose of the post game interview?
  • Who is the audience for such interviews?
  • What are the conventions of the post game interview genre?
  • How did Sherman break those?
  • What is the social context in which his interview is being judged?

These are the kinds of questions you need to answer when analyzing or composing a text according to the Design Plan Approach to Production and Analysis. You will use this approach when crafting your semester-long Design Plans next week (due Tuesday, Sept. 6).

Homework assigned:

What is the Connection Economy?
Read: The Five Canon’s of Classical Rhetoric
Read: The Design Plan approach to production and analysis
Read: Seth Godin’s Six Assets that Matter in the Connection Economy
Begin thinking about your own Design Plan. Be sure you understand the directions of the assignment and read through its corresponding links.
Writing : Respond to a classmate’s Canvas Discussion forum post. Find your response to the question “What role does the web play in your daily life?” and respond to the person whose response is immediately below yours. If you are last, respond to the first person listed.

First Day’s Class and HW in Canvas

John Lennon quote


This class is designed to be different from any other high school or college writing class you have taken. The objective is not to write in order to prove to a teacher that you have learned the course material or that you have learned to write an academic essay or research paper—those are genres of writing that only exist in school and you will not be in school forever (thank goodness). The objective is for you to figure out what you want to do with your life and learn how writing can help you achieve your goals. And I hope you will not confuse means goals with end goals. That is, if your goal is to be happy (an end goal) and you confuse that with being a doctor or an engineer (a means goal) then you might only care about getting an A so you can get into med or law school; however, if you know that what makes you happy is working to better society, then you might discover that writing can help you promote social causes that you care about and you might discover that being a doctor or lawyer is one of many ways to better society. (More on all this in a future class session.)

I want you to think of what you do in this class as art. That doesn’t mean you will be painting, sculpting, or dancing (unless you want to). For the purposes of this class, art is part of what is required to communicate in the new connection economy made possible by the Internet. Here is how Seth Godin defines it in his book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?:

Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Most painters, it turns out, aren’t artists at all—they are safety-seeking copycats.

Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map—these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.

Speaking up when there’s no obvious right answer, making yourself vulnerable when it’s possible to put up shields, and caring about both the process and the outcome—these are works of art that our society embraces and the economy demands.

Furthermore, this class will be different than your other writing (journalism, composition, or other English classes) in that we are not just interested in what you are writing (and how you are composing) but why you are making the choices you do when writing. The why takes center stage and you will spend a lot of time articulating your choices to convince me and your classmates that your choices are sound and appropriate for your particular audience and the context in which you are working.

Today’s Agenda:

  1. Welcome & syllabus overview
  2. What is Web 2.0 and 3.0?

  1. Introductions
  2. Brief Tutorial of Canvas


Below is our first Canvas Discussion question. Post your answer there by class time Thursday. If you have problems, answer the question offline in Word and bring the file to class Thursday so that I can help you post it.

Write a 250-500 word post answering the question “What role does the web play in your daily life?” Think about how (smart phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) when, where (home, school, coffee shop), and why you access the web. What applications do you use (gmail, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and why? What would you like to do online that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet (start a YouTube channel for example)? What do you do online that you wish you didn’t have to (answer work email for example)?