Process Description

Process Writing Option 1: Process Description You have been asked to write a process description of a technological artifact or of a scientific or technical process by Debra Beller, the online Editorial Director of  (Links to an external site.) . Ms. Beller asks you to consider the following steps in putting together, and submitting, your technical or process description. Take a look at published “How … Works” articles on com  (Links to an external site.) . Through a close reading of sample articles identify the form of the article, the intended audience, the style employed, the level of technical discourse and jargon, and the use of visual images and hypertext links; Choose a technological artifact or scientific or technical process the web site’s audience will find interesting and with which you are familiar. While the originality of your submission is highly valued, you may find articles on the site cover, to some degree, the same subject in which you are interested. No matter. If the artifact or process you choose has been described in a previous article, you can offer a unique approach or perspective not found in the article (e.g., describing more or less fully an aspect of the technology or the process than the article or adopting a different point of view). Ultimately, what qualifies as “unique” is left to your discretion; Write an article (using modified memo form) that could be published on com  (Links to an external site.) .   Option 2: Expanded Definition A definition explains the precise meaning a person intends to convey when using a specific term. Definitions are particularly important when specialists in one field must use terms to communicate with people who are not in the same specialty. Sometimes a term is so complex or important that its definition needs to be extended to more than a brief phrase or sentence. Any definition that is longer than a sentence or two is called an extended (also called an expanded) definition. An extended definition may in itself make up an entire document, such as a report or memo, or a large portion of that document. Select a word or term common to (at least) two academic disciplines or field of inquiry. For example terms such as “theory,” “result,” “depression,” “value,” “formula,” “procedure,” “apparatus,” and “experiment” are used differently in subtle, and not so subtle, ways in disciplines and fields in the natural sciences, the social sciences, business and engineering. Compare and contrast the uses of the common term you have selected in (at least) two disciplines or fields. The purpose of your analysis is examine how language use shifts over time, in different intellectual contexts, and how language influences or ideas and perceptions of inquiry. Consider the following steps for this assignment: Locate the etymology and history of the word or term by determining its basic elements, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, and by defining its cognates in other languages. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED; available on-line through Newman library) is especially helpful in providing the etymology and history of a word or term. The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, The Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, books explaining the history of words and terms (e.g., Isaac Asimov’s Words of Science and the History Behind Them, 1959), textbooks, on-line sources, and scholarly journals about linguistics will also be helpful. You can also look at Merriam-Webster on-line. Choose examples of how the word or term is used from any source or combination of sources such as textbooks, journal articles, newspaper accounts, popular magazines and on-line sources. Compare and contrast how the word or term is used in these sources. Feel free to quote material with proper attribution. Consider the following questions — you are not required to answer them directly: Can the word or term be used to explain or describe a similar phenomenon in different disciplines? For example, is the word “theory” used in the same way by biologists defending evolutionary theory and by Intelligent Design advocates? • How did these similarities and differences develop historically? • Would the technically specific use of the term create confusion for a non-specialist audience? • Would a curious non-specialist audience typically encounter this term? Under what circumstances? • How is our understanding and treatment of otherwise distinct phenomena (say a tropical depression and an economic depression) shaped by using a common term or description? For instance, should one treat an economic depression like a natural occurrence? Would changing the term change the way we treat the phenomena? Would, for example, clinical depression be treated differently if not identified as a unique condition? Feel free to speculate on the answer based on evidence you have gathered in your research.   Option 3: Analyzing Metaphor Defined inelegantly, a metaphor is a play on words in which a comparison is made between two seemingly unrelated subjects. Typically, the first object is described as being the second object. For example: “The universe is a mechanical clock.” The first object — “the universe” — is rather concisely described because the implicit and explicit attributes of the second object — “a mechanical clock” — provide an evocative description of “the universe.” Metaphor, however, is not always used to describe the properties of an object; sometimes metaphor is used for purely aesthetic reasons. We use metaphors to help define our natural and scientific world and explain our behavior and attitudes. As Anne Eisenberg says: “Once metaphors were the stuff of poetry not proteins — but no more. You are just as likely these days to turn across them in a scientific review as in a sonnet. Despite the 300-year effort by Hobbes, Locke and a legion of logical positivists to confine them to the English classroom, metaphors are suddenly inescapable in technical prose. From chemical scissors and solvent cage to optical molasses and squeezed light, from DNA fingerprints to read-only memory, metaphor is out of the scientific closet” (Scientific American, May 1992, p.144). Metaphors in technical and scientific writing serve to convey the meaning of complex ideas or processes to a lay audience. In this assignment, I want you to examine the use of metaphors in the debate regarding evolution and intelligent design. Here’s how to approach the assignment: Select an article, or articles, of some length (use your discretion) on, or about, the evolution/intelligent design debate. Sources might include the New York TimesScience Section, on-line magazines such as Slate,Salon,Popular Science (all have search options), or any number of web sites or blogs (a simple Google search with the key words “intelligent design” will yield hundreds of possible sources); Identify, analyze and explain the function of metaphors in any article, or articles you have selected. You may choose to examine the use of different metaphors in one article, compare and contrast the use of a common metaphor shared in two or more articles, compare and contrast the uses of different, related, metaphors in two or more articles, or thoroughly analyze the use of one metaphor in one article. Whatever focus you choose, please be sure to perform a close reading of the use of metaphor(s) in the article(s) by going to the text, by quoting the appropriate passages, and by offering a detailed analysis of the use of metaphor in those passages. Here are some thought questions (you are not required to answer them directly) to help focus your analysis: What concepts or processes are the metaphors attempting to help define? Elaborate on the concept and how the metaphor helps, or hinders, how it is explained. Does the use of metaphor, in this instance, help explain a concept or process to a lay audience? Why or why not? Are metaphors regarding the concepts or processes used among specialists in the field? • Many people think that metaphors are only used in poetry and literature. We use them so much that we are not even aware we are doing so. What are some metaphors you use frequently? Do these metaphors appear in the readings? Give examples of them and elaborate on their meaning. Are you aware that you are using metaphors? Is the writer aware of using metaphors? Do they lose their meaning when they become clichés? • Can metaphors simplify concepts too much? Do they serve a necessary function even with their limitations? What might some of the dangers be in using metaphors? What might some of the advantages be? Give specific examples from the article you have selected. A few on-line resources:  (Links to an external site.)  (Metaphors in Various Disciplines  (Links to an external site.) )  (Links to an external site.)  (Bibliography of Text-based Metaphor Resources  (Links to an external site.) ) Option 4: Evaluating Instructions You work for Johnson Plumbing, a company that manufactures plumbing supplies. Your manager, Jane Perez, who is also head of product development, knows that you have studied technical writing and asks you for your valuable advice. Ms. Perez has just handed you the draft of instructions for the installation of a shower/bath door (  (Links to an external site.) ) that Johnson hopes to start selling next month. She has asked you to comment on the effectiveness of this draft of the instructions. The tub door is the first product marketed by Johnson that will be installed by the consumer. Ms. Perez tells you that a rival company is battling out a law suit arising from an accident that was allegedly caused when an unsupervised customer tried installing a ceiling fan by following installation instructions. She hands you the draft document saying that your company cannot afford to make the same expensive mistake. Ms. Perez wants a memo that provides a comprehensive analysis of the tub door installation instructions. The purpose of the memo is to point out all steps that could be misunderstood by a consumer with a basic education, how those steps could be misunderstood, and how you would remedy those misunderstandings. Ultimately, you are asked to provide a judgment, based on your analysis of the instructions, as to whether or not general consumers (as you define them) can safely install the tub door.   Option 5: Deconstructing a Meme Familiarize yourself with the concept of ameme (not just the internet meme) by reading this:  (Links to an external site.) Watch Doug Belshaw’s TED Talk, “The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies,” found here: The essential elements of digital literacies: Doug Belshaw at TEDxWarwick  (Links to an external site.) . Watch the entire talk, but (for the purposes of this assignment) pay close attention beginning at 5:20, when Belshaw begins unpacking three different series of memes. Read this description/explanation of one of the most replicated/recognizable internet memes of all time, Harambe:  (Links to an external site.) Select ameme, and at least one iteration (variation) of the meme. Include the memes in your process description. Attempt to explain the evolution of the ideas represented in thememe. Pretend you are attempting to explain a joke to someone unfamiliar with any of the cultural references contained within the meme—pretend you are explaining the “joke” to an alien, or someone who has been dead for a century or two.  To do so, you may want to consider (among other things) the following: What cultural events/references would one have to know in order to understand the joke/message conveyed by thememe?  Is thememe intended to be strictly funny/uplifting, or does it provide serious social or political commentary? How has the image been appropriated by different groups or causes? How has the meaning of the image shifted with each iteration?   Option 6: Scene Description Select a short (preferably iconic) movie scene and craft a detailed description in standard script format. In addition to action and dialogue, these “reverse engineered” scripts should contain vivid descriptions of background scenery, music, and the characters. For an example of this exercise, see the following video: Learning scene description from The Coen Brothers  (Links to an external site.) For examples of how to format a script, I recommend the following resource: Learning scene description from The Coen Brothers  (Links to an external site.)

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