Making sense of arguments

Today we moved beyond reading arguments to listening to what scholars have to say about the topic of living in the digital age. We took notes from the videos and looked for the connections between the different arguments they are making in these different spaces.   

Lastly, we tried to create a tool to help us understand where people fall in terms of arguments that are pro or con for technology. We put ourselves on the continuum as well as the scholars we read, then tried to figure out who we were most aligned with as a way to start writing our papers and figuring out what sources would work for us. Where do you fall on the continuum?

Responding to Davidson

What passages stood out to you? 

In reference to Wikipedia, why rush to ban the largest collaborate intellectual project since the OED. (p. 170)

Rather than deleting Wikipedia, why not make it an object of study within our courses. (p. 167)

Kids today learn in new ways because of technologies they experience everyday and we should embrace this and recognize it has the potential to improve our world down the road. (p. 168)

Wikipedia is a knowledge community of people from all over the world collaborating (p. 167).

Maybe Wikipedia is the best place for students to learn different forms of tools and creativity (p. 171).

Wikipedia errors are not more frequent than print encyclopedias, and Wikipedia has the potential to be corrected instantly (unlike print sources) (p. 167).

Book purchasing and engaging with ideas and sources has diversified as a result of online reading (p. 170).

“Knowledge isn’t just information, and it isn’t just opinion” (p. 170)

Wikipedia is a great place to begin thinking about processes of learning (p. 170).

Academia needs to evolve with the evolution of learning that students are experiencing (p. 171)

I often go to Wikipedia as an easy reference and starting point before going into the scholarly depths (p. 169)

Let’s use technology as a tool for creativity and create initiatives that foster this (p. 168).

Summarizing Alone Together

We worked on capturing the essence of Turkle’s Alone Together in 1 concise sentence, and the work was tough. How to get it all in there accurately without being too wordy. Our collaborative efforts brought about these 3 summaries below, with Group 1 voted the most effective.

Group 1

In the book  Alone Together, Sherry Turkle creates a connection between modern day technology and its effect on levels of intimacy within relationships . Turkle gave examples of technology and its growing intimacy with people and the potential problems that come from it. This includes people who prefer text over call to Levy’s book Love and Sex with Robots.  

Group 2

Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, introduces the ways that technology and intimacy are related. In our modern society, technology can help improve and expand human-to-human interaction, however, we are beginning to expect more and more from person-to-technology interactions. Turkle (2011) argues that robots have become a “twenty-first century deus ex c machina…” (p. 11) and that people are becoming “modern Goldilock[es].” (p. 15), picking and choosing the desired level of intimacy.  

Group 3  

Sociable robots create a connection between human companionship and the digital world. In Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, she argues that individuals are making companionships with digitalized robots in replacement for real-life relationships.She elaborates on the pros and cons of robot relationships and how it impacts intimacy and authenticity.

Watching and listening to Turkle

NPR interview

From summary to response

What do we need for a great response paper?

  1. They Say: Summary of text under discussion
  2. I Say: A claim about an idea in the text up for discussion
  3. Evidence: Integrate quotes as support for discussion
  4. Elaboration: Discussion how quotes support discussion
  5. Conclusion: Connect to big picture, real world, implications

Chapter 2: Making new media make sense

Sample response from the workshop

The second chapter of Nancy Baym’s book shows the different perspectives of how society is responding to rapidly developing digital media. Technological determinism is the view that new technologies are “causal agents, entering societies as active forces of change that humans have little power to resist”. Nowhere is this highlighted better than in Nick Carr’s article “Is google making us stoopid?” where he argues that instant, intangible information floods our everyday lives, shorting our memory span and our attention. When this constant stimulus is taken away, our attention flits away to questions like “why is the sky blue?” or “how long does it take to drown an ant?” that could be easily googled. In the face of this onslaught on our psyche, I agree that society is powerless to stop this dumbing down of people.

The goal of the revision here is to be explicit about the connects between the concept of tech determinism, the Google article mentioned, and the examples provided that infer something about determinism (or not).

Chapter 3


Sample response from workshop

In the third chapter of Nancy Baym’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, the reader is introduced to how communication differs between face to face interaction and a technological medium. One important aspect of this is the idea of social presence and why it is important to convey yourself using social cues. Baym (2010) states, “the concepts of social presence and media richness continue to influence the ways scholars think about the consequences of mediation for interaction…” (p. 55). Being a scholar, I argue the need for social cues to fully express myself while interacting. For example, during a speech I tend to use facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact to help me entice the listener. Reducing social cues thus reduces social presence when communicating. This exemplifies why mediated communication takes away from the social presence of an individual, especially when physical social cues are non-existent.

The goal in revision of this response is to make the elaboration match up with the quote that was chosen or pick a quote that better connects to the examples discussed. 

Outlining to summarizing

From outlining to summarizing

Rather than using an outline as a tool to organize our own writing, we will go back through someone else’s writing to make sense of the key ideas put forth in the organizational structure.

We will do a reverse outline of the chapters “Making new media make sense” and “Communication in digital spaces” from Personal Connections in the Digital Age as a way to help us unpack the main ideas and sub-points. This sort of tool teaches us to close read better and gives us a road map for summarizing

Chapter 2: Making new media make sense


  1. Introduction to topic , what will be covered, what was already covered (technological qualities of a medium and personal, cultural, and historical presumptions)
  2. Introduces the social qualities and anxieties brought by technology.
  3. Claim/Thesis: Explores messages circulating around new media to show how social forces
  4. influence tech interpretation and use.
  5. Messages about technologies are reflective (personal)
  6. Comm about tech is productive
  7. She lays out the chapter to focus on theoretical frameworks about cause between tech and society.

Tech Determination: Machines change us (Bailey, Ben, Elaine)


  1. Introduce the concept of being dumbed down (a way machines change us) using article evidence
  2. Analysis of Carr’s article arguing how machines passively change us

  3. Acknowledge previous supporting evidence but there are some positive exceptions

  4. Providing evidence to original introductory topics (theory and history) through technological determinism in Ancient Greece

  5. Analysis to evidence and providing more evidence to strengthen the reader’s understanding of technological determinism  

  6. Examples of technologically deterministic qualities in users

  7. Sub Topic: people aren’t familiar with technology, “used by technology”

  8. Counter argument: technological determinism has positive effects if used strategically

Recurrent themes in the reception of new tech (Alex, Brittany, Mikaela)

  1. Introduces the topic of recurring themes in popular media.
  2. Technological advancements result in loss of personal connection.
  3. Meaningless context in social media Personal relationships in medias

Social Construction: People have the power (Jeffrey, Diamond, Naomi)

  1. Review determinism, and introduce SCOT perspective
  2. Technology can not exist without social context
  3. Technological development influenced by many factors
  4. investors, government agencies, competitors do not always agree
  5. Power users have in shaping development
  6. Intent vs actual use
  7. Social structures as factors
  8. access, availability, price, marketing
  9. Attitudes about media can be shaped by peers
  10. unwritten rules of technological use (ex. phone turned off in restaurant)

Moral Panic & Social Shaping (Andrew, Abbey, Mataio)

  1. The fears of the dangers technology brings to society
  2. Lays out examples of dangers of technology such as child exploitation and sexual predation
  3. People blame the Internet for child exploitation and sexual predation, when really, the problem can lie outside of media
  4. Children have a better understanding of how to use technology, therefore putting them above adults in that sense, becoming uncontrollable and careless
  5. Technology gives not only predators, but also youth, the opportunity to exploit themselves and be exploited, causing fear to adults of their children’s empowerment on the Internet
  6. Domestication (Cody, Kevin, Mario)
  7. In the recent past, technology was seen as something “marvelous and strange”, but now we’ve tamed technology and put it to use in our everyday lives.
  8. Considers how we’ve moved from a time where we were threatened by technology to the present where they’re now as invisible as other ordinary objects.
  9. Explains how not too long ago there was a stigma associated with the internet and the people that used it.
  10. Gave examples to support the idea that the internet itself is not the problem, it’s how you use it.
  11. Reminds us that even though we’ve “domesticated” the internet, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any large problems left (because there are).

Chapter 3


  1. What happens to communication when digitally mediated
  2. Examine perceptions that mediation is impoverished (digital communication isn’t as rich as face to face)
  3. Examples of how people inject sociability into digi comm (emotion, closeness, availability, fun, building social groups)
  4. She argues mediation is NOT impoverished, but a new mixed modality (form) that combines face to face elements with written.
  5. social identities are influenced and reshaped; gender and cultural identities are discussed.


Mediation as impoverishment: reduced social cues

  1. Acknowledging introduction and outlines how the chapter is going to be outlined
  2. Evidence when to choose mediated or face to face communication
  3. Introduces the idea of social presence and examples of the non-verbal cues
  4. Social presence using a medium, hard to gauge
  5. Real and presentness more apparent face to face, unlike in mediated communication
  6. Shows how when cues are filtered out feeling and emotion can be diminished as well
  7. Social identity becomes less apparent without face to face communication
  8. Mediated communication equals loss in social norm guidance
  9. Overview of how there are consequences to mediated interaction

The example of antagonism (mikaela, brittany, alex)

  1. Personal emotion cannot be achieved over social media
  2. Online group behaviors, introduces behavioral norm
  3. Illustrating “flamming”  
  4. How the lack of accountability and presence allows people to be more willing to participate in “flame wars”
  5. Negative communication among social media users allows others to feed off of their online presentation of information and the same with positivity
  6. Introduces different types of “flames” and how one may introduce just that.


Putting social cues into digital communication

  1. Social cues to establish connections
  2. Emoticons to advance nonverbal cues
  3. Examples of changed texting/messaging language as a social cue
  4. Humor/creative play in textual media
  5. Evolution of cues to reassure the personal relationship/interaction



Digital communication as a mixed modality

    1. Technological mediums have a combination of oral and written communication
    2. Online communication resembles writing and speech through a medium
    3. Written and oral are two separate concepts in online interaction
    4. Online communication is like speech in ways because it has the same mechanisms as conversation, such as taking turns and topic shift
    5. Online communication has a negative effect on how we speak and write in real time
    6. Argues that many of the deviations found in online communication are due to individuals’ laziness and lack of standards
    7. Our modern-day society has turned from a more formal social demeanor to a more casual one


Contextual influences on online communication (Cody, Kevin, Mario)

  1. How we communicate is affected by how we identify ourselves
  2. Men and women communicate similarly, but women tend to elaborate while men are more concise
  3. Sexism still exists on the internet
  4. Some people like to show national pride on the internet
  5. Race is usually less relevant than gender on websites
  6. There’s white supremacy groups on the internet
  7. English is by far the most common language on the internet
  8. Wealthier countries have more representation on the internet
  9. Some see this as a new era of English colonialism

The art of summary

Our task was to apply what we learned in They Say, I Say about “the art of summary” and apply it to your reading of Nancy Baym’s Personal Connections in the Digital Age.

What about the art of summary?

Balance what they say and I say, but focus on consolidating the main points and key arguments. Don’t over-quote, which according to Brittany means, “don’t let the author speak for you.” Let your quotes flow into a text and integrate it into your sentences as keywords and concepts or full sentences. The best practices for using quotes tend to revolve around ideas that you can’t reproduce without losing the original meaning or you want to address specifically.

  • General rule: balance what they say with what I say\
  • Formatting for summaries
  • Using templates and keywords to signal summary
  • What not to do: use too much personal connections

Defining Summary:

  1. a brief statement or account of the main points of something (Oxford Dictionary)
  2. a comprehensive and usually brief abstract, recapitulation, or compendium of previously stated facts or statements. (

Different types of summary

University writing centers have lots of great resources online for writing, however the information may be conflicting. This means you need to become astute at figuring out what information is relevant to your writing task. Here are a couple of web resources that we found helpful.