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CourseMaterialsUnits1 3

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Setting Up a Blog Page & Hypothesis Account



Unit 1: Thompson and the Analysis Paper


Thompson's "Public Thinking"


Background & Links


Examples of Public Thinking

Thompson talks about the importance of “public thinking” and “networked” reading and writing of texts. At the end of his chapter he asks, “What tools will create new forms of public thinking in the years to come?” His answer is that “as more forms of media become digital, they'll become sites for public thinking… Marginalia may become a new type of public thinking, with the smartest remarks from other readers becoming part of how we make sense of a book.” Thompson also discusses how reading and writing are becoming “blended,” and quotes literacy theorist Debbie Brandt: “People read in order to generate writing; we read from the posture of the writer.”

We can examine some contemporary examples of tools and publishing experiments that embody Thompson's ideas. These may help us understand what Thompson is on about, but also determine the extent to which his claims are plausible.

  • Hypothesis is an example of a wave of new tools and experiments with social reading and writing. It enables people to publicly comment on and annotate online texts, and also lets you form groups, and follow people whose annotations you like. Example:  if you look at Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” you’ll see a scholar has recorded his response in the margins. (You will need to have added the extension to see this). Political speeches are starting to be publicly annotated by academics. For example, the sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom annotated Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic national Convention using Hypothesis.


  • The annotation tools “News Genius” and “Rap Genius” let users comment on, explicate, analyze and annotate news stories and music lyrics. Rap genius is used a lot and may be of interest to students.  Consider the following: T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock has been nicely annotated. The line “Do I dare disturb the universe” is discussed, along with the fact that the line was remixed and used by rapper Chuck D. http://genius.com/Ts-eliot-the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock-annotated If you click on this line the link to Chuck D will appear.   

    The Genius annotation system is used for fan fiction, creative writers, and many genres of "high" and pop culture.  The literature page is here: http://lit.genius.com/ (look at the bottom of the page to see who the most popular annotators are). Consider this annotation of Shelley's "Ozymandias". Note also that users vote on which annotations should be listed at the top, and there is a scoreboard of most popular writers and annotators.  Note also that while fans annotate pop songs, some artists annotate their own songs. Consider the recent hit "Broccoli," by D.R.A.M., which is annotated by the songwriters. Other writers and artists who have annotated texts are here (you can follow them).

  • Writers comment and annotate their own (and others) texts. Lena Dunham has used Genius to annotate a chapter from her book Not That Kind Of Girl, a collection of essays.








Unit 2: Carr and the Strategies Paper


Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"


Carr Videos

Videos of Carr explaining his arguments:

  1. Six minute PBS interview with Carr explaining his main arguments 
  2. video interview with Canadian host Steve Paikin ("Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?" 16 minutes) 
  3. The Harvard Book Store presents Nicholas Carr: The Shallows - What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (49 mins)
  4. Presentation at  the Commonwealth Club of California, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (60 minutes - you can select "chapters" from the talk)
  5. Scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey where Dave deactivates HAL. 
  6. IQ Squared debate featuring Carr (IQ Squared site, and from YouTube - starts at about 10 minutes) 


Responses, Extensions & Challenges to Carr



Unit 3: Boyd and the Contribution Paper


Dana Boyd, "Literacy: Are Today's Youth Digital Natives?'"


Background on Boyd & her book


Videos of Boyd and other Writers discussing Digital Natives


Related links

Boyd discusses the need for "search literacy" and the politics of search engines. These issues have been taken up by Eli Pariser in his work on search engines and the idea of a "filter bubble."  Two short, accessible introductions to these issues are here:


Boyd discusses the ability to take control of who one shares information with and how/when we are tracked as an important part of critical digital literacy. Some links to explore these issues:


Source Texts for Working with Boyd and Building Your own Argument





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