September 20, 2010 Archives

From this weekend's New York Times (Kevin Kelly):

Technology will change faster than we can teach it. My son studied the popular programming language C++ in his home-school year; that knowledge could be economically useless soon. The accelerating pace of technology means his eventual adult career does not exist yet. Of course it won't be taught in school. But technological smartness can be. Here is the kind of literacy that we tried to impart:

  • Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.
  • Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything you need until the last second. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete.
  • Before you can master a device, program or invention, it will be superseded; you will always be a beginner. Get good at it.
  • Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls. If you can fix it, modify it or hack it yourself, that is a good sign.
  • The proper response to a stupid technology is to make a better one, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.
  • Every technology is biased by its embedded defaults: what does it assume?
  • Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. The crucial question is, what happens when everyone has one?
  • The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.
  • Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.
Watch these tutorials (created by the University of Houston-Victoria), and follow along. You will have time to start during class, using the copy of CS3 (Adobe Creative Suite 3) installed in A405.  (If you have installed the YouTube app on your iPad, I recommend that you put the video on your iPad, prop it up next to the screen, and follow along.  You may also call up the video on one desktop screen, and you and a partner can fire up computers on either side of the video, and you can follow along together, pausing the video as needed.)

Next week, the assignment is to design a one-page practice document, using text (including headlines and body text), images (including photos and/or other illustrations), and a background (which may have a watermark, shading, guidelines, etc.).

I'm leaving the content of the page unspecific, other than asking you to demonstrate something you have learned so far in EL200. You can a poster advertising some event (historical or imaginary); a mockup of a page from a magazine or newspaper, or a spoof in the tradition of The Onion.  You are free to re-use any of the materials you have written so far for this class; you may also use text somebody else wrote, as long as you have permission from that author. So, you might want to lay out two or three peer profiles

You may work with a partner as you learn the software, but I will ask each student to submit a separate one-page practice document. (If you and your partner use the same text, that is fine; just make sure your layout is completely different.)

Key Concept:

Production Lab Report

Your production lab report is written as a 400-word hard news story, covering your contributions to the latest issue of The Setonian. Although I have placed this page on the course web page for Sep 20, the assignment is not actually due until the following week, after the paper comes out. So if you are looking at this age, but haven't yet done anything for the paper, you still have time to contact the editor and find out what the production schedule is.

Write it as a third-person, objective news story, not a first-person essay.

Begin with a lead, follow the inverted pyramid, and include direct quotes from at least three sources (one of which can be yourself).

An editor's car trouble, a power outage, and a pet rodent on the loose didn't sink last week's homecoming issue of the Seton Hill University newspaper, thanks in part to some timely assistance from freshman Gertrude Griffin.

"When my tire went flat at 2am, I thought I'd never get back to school on time, but Gertrude was there for me," said editor-in-chief Nate Gruff.

Griffin, a journalism major from Philadelphia, was getting ready for bed when the lights went out early Monday morning.

"I couldn't see very well, but I grabbed my my computer bag when Nate called," said Griffin. "I didn't know  Squeaker had climbed inside."
Most lab reports won't be this dramatic, but you get the idea.

In this example, Gertie Griffin has actually interviewed her editor, Nate Gruff, and she is filling out the story with made-up quotes from herself. (That's fine for this exercise, where the point is for you to practice the form of a news story, but would be completely unethical in a real news organization.)

While it's OK to toot your own horn a bit in an exercise like this, you'll need to talk to your editors and peers to supply the quotes that fill out the story.  Be accurate, and be realistic.  (Note that the example says Griffin is "in part" responsible for saving the issue. It would be inaccurate to suggest she saved the paper all by herself.)

See the full rubric for the lab report assignment: EL 200 Lab Report.doc

See note from last week -- the same division in readings will apply.

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