Revisiting a Website I Created in 1996: Engineering Writing Centre (University of Toronto)

During the Christmas break of 1996, when I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, I asked my boss at the Engineering Writing Center if I could log about 10 hours converting a bunch of paper handouts into hyperlinked web documents. I actually put in about 20 hours, and slapped into shape the first rough version of the website. The oldest archive I can find is from…

Vanessa Otero’s Updated Media Bias Chart

Otero goes into great detail describing her criteria for placing the various news sources. She changed a few labels and shifted position for a few sources.  It’s not perfect. It’s not the only answer. It, however, a very useful way to get us to think about what we’re clicking on, reading, and sharing.  See “The Chart, Version 3.0: What, Exactly, Are We Reading?”

William Zinsser: What Is Good Writing? (Clarity, Simplicity, Brevity, and Humanity.)

Most of the students in my “News Writing” class don’t want to be journalists, but they all want to make a living from their writing skills. I’m trying to emphasize some of the markers that journalists put into their work, in order to signal that their work is credible. For instance, one saying in journalism is “Get the brand of the beer, the model of the car, and the name…

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A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens

Saving this for next term’s “History and Future of the Book” course. Students said they preferred and performed better when reading on screens. But their actual performance tended to suffer. For example, from our review of research done since 1992, we found that students were able to better comprehend information in print for texts that were more than a page in length. This appears to be related to the disruptive effect that scrolling…

The Digital-Humanities Bust

Dinosaurs evolved into birds. Not all of them, of course. Birds are so much a part of our environment that we barely notice them. I’ve said the same about weblogs. Monetized and platformized and app-ified, the basic functions of blogging live on — a reverse-sorted stream of posts, a mechanism to engage with visitors to your stream, and a mechanism for engaging with the authors of other streams. It is…