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Five types of writing for the Internet (modified after the presentation) Larry Press lpress@csudh.edu http://bpastudio.csudh.edu/fac/lpress Writing is important to students, parents and employers Five types of writing on the Internet Conversations Short documents

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slide1
Five types of writing for the Internet

(modified after the presentation)

Larry Press

lpress@csudh.edu

http://bpastudio.csudh.edu/fac/lpress

writing for the internet
Writing is important to students, parents and employers

Five types of writing on the Internet

Conversations

Short documents

Collaborative writing – composite documents

Collaborative writing – jointly written documents

Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)

Writing for the Internet
writing for the internet3
Writing for the Internet
  • Writing is important to students, parents and employers
  • Five types of writing on the Internet
students and parents agree that writing is important
Students and parents agree that writing is important
  • 83% of parents of teens feel there is a greater need to write well today than there was 20 years ago.
  • 86% of teens ages 12-17 believe good writing is important to success in life -- some 56% describe it as essential and another 30% describe it as important.
jason fried s hiring criteria
Jason Fried’s hiring criteria

Jason Fried, founder of 37 Signals, a leading software company speaking on what he looks for in an employee. Writing ability is the most important.

  • positive outlook
  • well rounded and flexible
  • quick learner
  • trustworthy -- will find a solution to a problem
  • good writer

Writing (34 sec) All five criteria (2m 42sec)

Probably the most important thing and probably one of the surprises is you have to work with people who are good writers, Jason Fried, 2005.

joel spolsky
Joel Spolsky, well known programmer and author on the importance of writing to a software developer.

(15 seconds)

Joel Spolsky

Being able to write clearly, to write English clearly is more important to developing useful software than almost anything else and that's something you’re more likely to learn in the English department than in the computer science department, Joel Spolsky, 2009.

writing for the internet7
Writing for the Internet
  • Writing is important to students, parents and employers
  • Five types of writing on the Internet
types of writing for the internet
Types of writing for the Internet
  • Conversations
  • Short documents
  • Collaborative writing – composite documents
  • Collaborative writing – jointly written documents
  • Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)
an email conversation
An email conversation

Would you like to have lunch today?

> Would you like to have lunch today?

Yes, what time and where?

> Yes, what time and where?

How about noon at Felippes?

Noon is great --- where is Felippe’s?

> Noon is great --- where is Felippe’s?

Near Union station --- here is a link:

http:// …

Great -- I will meet you there at noon.

OK

conversation examples
Conversation examples
  • An email conversation with an individual
  • An email conversation with a group of people on a list server
  • A conversation with a group of people on a threaded discussion forum
  • A comment on a blog post
types of internet conversation
Types of Internet conversation
  • Conversations for action: a request or offer which is subsequently confirmed or dropped
  • Conversations for clarification: obtaining more information about something said earlier or in a prior conversation
  • Conversations for possibilities: creating ideas and selecting one or more for future discussion
  • Conversations for orientation: exchanging information about themselves or a situation (bilateral or unilateral, objective or emotional)

Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores developed this taxonomy in the 1980s when the Internet and email were beginning to catch on.

conversation formal speech acts with dated commitments
Conversation: formal speech acts with dated commitments

Request

Action

Request

Action

Decline

(someone

does it)

Promise

Revoke

promise

Ask for

progress

report

Cancel

Declare

complete

Report

completion

conversational writing requires careful reading
Conversational writing requires careful reading
  • Careful listening is needed for effective, responsive conversation. Careful reading is necessary for effective, responsive Internet conversation.
  • Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.
  • Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written, Thoreau, Walden, 1854.
  • Students are defensive – do not believe it when you tell them their writing is unclear or off topic.
types of writing for the internet14
Types of writing for the Internet
  • Conversations
  • Short documents
  • Collaborative writing – composite documents
  • Collaborative writing – jointly written documents
  • Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)
short document examples
Short document examples
  • A blog post
  • The initial message in an email conversation or a new thread in a discussion forum
  • An entry in a database – for example a collection of movie or song reviews where each one is assigned to a different person
students are not proficient writers of short documents
Students are not proficient writers of short documents
  • Sample writing assignment: explain what a backpack is to an incoming, foreign 8th grader.
  • About one-third of America’s eighth-grade students, and about one in four high school seniors, are proficient writers, according to results of a nationwide test released on Thursday (NY Times, 4/3/08).
  • Based on National Center for Educational Statistics, The Nation’s Report Card: Writing 2007. Data and report available online.
how do people read short documents on the internet
How do people read short documents on the Internet?

Answer: quickly and superficially, starting in the upper left hand corner.

distribution of page stay times
Distribution of page-stay times

59,573 page views by 25 users with average age of 30.5 and 8 years Web experience.

Even for first time visits to a site, half of the times were 12 seconds or less.

view time versus number of words
View time versus number of words

How many words can you read in 100 seconds?

Readers scan Web pages.

being concise is not easy
Being concise is not easy

I would not have made this so long except that I do not have the leisure to make it shorter, Pascal, letter, 1656.

jakob nielsen s blog writing tips
Jakob Nielsen’s blog writing tips
  • Picture your reader, their background, and interest in your topic.
  • Write a clear, meaningful title that will help the user decide if the post is relevant (see The world’s best headlines).
  • Work typical search terms into the title or first sentence.
  • Begin with a short summary of your conclusions – what will users find in this post and how it is relevant to them?
  • Keep the post short – use links for detail.
  • Stay above the scroll if possible.
  • Be sure a sentence or bullet point with a link gives an accurate picture of what it leads to – don’t waste the reader’s time.
  • Include an image, table, or list to make it visually interesting and focus on key information.
  • Write the post early then let it cool off and read it aloud.
  • Get someone else to read it if possible
  • In conversation, read carefully before writing

(red = added)

types of writing for the internet24
Types of writing for the Internet
  • Conversations
  • Short documents
  • Collaborative writing – composite documents
  • Collaborative writing – jointly written documents
  • Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)
collaborative documents
Collaborative documents
  • Composite or jointly authored document
  • Large or small group of authors
  • Author group identified at start of the project or open ended
  • Initiated by a leader or leadership group or by all authors jointly
composite document
Composite document
  • Each section or topic is created and edited by a single person
  • The independently authored sections are assembled to make the composite document
  • The overall purpose and structure is determined in advance, though it might evolve
composite document examples
Composite document examples
  • A class roster where each person enters their own information
  • A list of potential exam questions and answers
  • A collection of class notes in which a different student is responsible for each
  • A report in which each section is assigned to a different person
  • A collection of independently written short documents in which one person is assigned to be the sole author of each
composite document tools
Composite document tools
  • Wiki
  • Networked database
  • Networked spreadsheet

A database or spreadsheet has a defined format. One may also suggest a template for a wiki.

wiki can begin with a template
Wiki can begin with a template

Example1: Describe the best class you have taken at CSUDH

  • Class name and number:
  • Professor:
  • This class took a lot of time and work: (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree)
  • What was covered in this class:
  • Why was this class important to you?
wiki can begin with a template30
Wiki can begin with a template

Example 2: Define a multiple choice exam question

  • State the question
  • What concept or skill is this question designed to test?
  • What is the correct answer?
  • Explain your answer
the template
The template
  • Established by leader or subset of the group members
  • Established jointly by all group members
  • Can the template be changed as the document evolves, and, if so, by whom?
types of writing for the internet32
Types of writing for the Internet
  • Conversations
  • Short documents
  • Collaborative writing – composite documents
  • Collaborative writing – jointly written documents
  • Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)
jointly written documents
Jointly written documents
  • Group members are free to edit any portion of the document
  • Group members are free to restructure the document, for example, to add or consolidate sections
collaborative writing examples
Collaborative writing examples
  • A group of students writes a report on some topic
  • Description of a public event as it is occurring
  • Composite document in which anyone is free to edit any contribution – like Wikipedia
some ways to begin a jointly written document
Some ways to begin a jointly written document
  • One person starts with a short document or even a single sentence, and it grows organically
  • One person writes the outline (perhaps just a list of points to be made), then others discuss and revise it, then they each draft a section
  • One person writes the entire first draft (perhaps leaving “stubs” to be completed by others) then invites the others to improve it
  • Group brainstorms the outline, then they each draft a section
  • After the first draft is complete, they each revisit and improve it.
revising and improving from simple to complex
Revising and improving, from simple to complex
  • Fix typos and spelling errors
  • Fix grammatical errors
  • Add a detail, reference or link
  • Rewrite awkward or ambiguous sentences
  • Add a clarifying example
  • Add the draft of a new sub topic
  • Reorganize or rearrange the document
collaborative editing
Collaborative editing
  • Remember, the goal is to improve the evolving document after each edit.
  • As an example, check this video on the evolution of the Wikipedia article on the heavy metal umlaut or this post on the Mumbai massacre.
  • Debate controversy and explain changes in the comments section of the wiki page.
types of writing for the internet38
Types of writing for the Internet
  • Conversations
  • Short documents
  • Collaborative writing – composite documents
  • Collaborative writing – jointly written documents
  • Collaborative writing – large groups (perhaps the general public)
very large groups require structured solutions
Very large groups require structured solutions
  • PublicMarkup, a platform for public discussion of legislation
  • Intel and ASUS incorporate social networking features in a project where they are asking the public to design a "dream" laptop

Examples and discussion of the above

follow up links
Follow up links
  • Email: lpress@csudh.edu
  • Web site: http://bpastudio.csudh.edu/fac/lpress/
  • Blog for IT literacy class: http://cis471.blogspot.com
  • Blog on IT literacy: http://computerliteracy3.blogspot.com
  • Some blog posts on writing: http://computerliteracy3.blogspot.com/search/label/writing
  • Google doc spreadsheet concepts vs applications http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pu8HOBIoLkOuT3dxSOMD4IQ&hl=en
  • Google doc spreadsheet concepts and skills http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pu8HOBIoLkOvPY--tKEpSQQ&hl=en