CS10: Blog Entry
Your goal for this assignment is to explore the broad field of computing and its implications on society by writing a blog post aimed at teaching others about a computing-related topic that you're interested in. You will have a large degree of freedom about the topic of your article, and you will be posting it publicly for the rest of the class to comment on.
The primary goal of your article is to present a technology related topic to your readers in a coherent, concise way. You have four broad prompts to choose from:
- Old topic, new angle. You can also choose to delve into a topic that we've already discussed in class. If, for example, you'd like to explore how Pixar makes movies, you are welcome to do so, but you should look into the topic at substantially more depth than we discussed. You can also focus on a particular part of the movie production process. For this prompt, you should assume that everyone understands the content presented in class, but not more.
- New topic. If you choose to write about a topic that we have not talked about in class, research the topic and develop a good understanding of how it works. Your topic should be related to technology but doesn't necessarily need to be technical. You can write about the particular implications of a technology without delving too far into the technology itself if you prefer. If you choose this prompt, you should assume that most readers are uninformed about the topic.
- CS + X. Choose another field of study, hobby, or profession and describe how computing has affected it in the past couple of decades. You could choose, for example, the effects of computing on economics and discuss high-frequency trading. You should assume that people understand your non-computing topic at the level of an average college student who is not majoring in the subject.
- Debates in technology. Discuss a debate related to technology. This could be either a current or historical debate. Although you should choose a side (and explain why you chose this side), you should discuss the merits and demerits of both sides of the argument equally so that readers have a clear view of both sides.
There are a few rules and guidelines that you have to stick to after you've chosen your topic.
- Rule #1: Your post must be at least four healthy paragraphs long. Feel free to go beyond that, but we seriously doubt that any topic that is covered in less space will be adequately described. There's also a soft limit around 550 words...try not too exceed this by too much. ;-)
- Rule #2: You must cite at least three (3) different sources. Feel free to use printed texts, readings from class, or textbooks from other classes. You can also use news articles from reputable sources or Wikipedia if it's appropriate for your topic, but at least one source must be from somewhere other than Wikipedia. A full MLA/APA-style citation is not necessary here; we're just interested to know where you got your information and where to go if we want to know more.
- Rule #3: You have to write the blog post. Do not copy and paste someone else's work. Plagiarism is a serious issue and it's best for everyone if we don't have to cross that bridge.
- Guideline #1: Feel free to use diagrams, tables, embedded videos, or any other media if you think that it helps to communicate your point. You are not required to use anything other than text.
- Guideline #2: Spend some time thinking about what you're going to say before you say it. Since the length requirement for the post is relatively small, we're looking for quality over quantity in your work. Quality implies that you have well-researched and insightful observations and speak meaningfully about the topic you've chosen to discuss.
Feel free to run your topic by your TA if you're concerned about its relevance. Chances are high that it's fine if it's somehow related to technology and one of the categories mentioned above.
Your post and comments are worth a total of 60 points (equivalent to the midterm as well as each project). They will be divided up as described below:
Post: coherent, on-topic, and well-researched (15 pts)
Post: contributes to understanding of CS big ideas (15 pts)
Post: presentation, including grammar, organization, etc (15 pts)
Comments: meaningful and thoughtful feedback (5pt each, 15 pts total)
The site for submitting your blog assignment is now online: https://sites.google.com/site/cs10fa2011/.
Note that you will need a Google / Gmail account in order to access the site. If you do not have an account, the link above will provide a means for creating one.
You will need to request access to the blog page once you log in. We do this to make sure that random internet wanderers don't come along and maim your articles. This means that we have to individually approve each request, and we'll probably process the waiting list once or twice a day so please be patient. Go ahead and get your name on the list early to make sure that this doesn't end up slowing you down too much.
We realize that the open-ended nature of this project may be daunting for many people, but we want to keep it open-ended to allow you to explore a topic in whatever way you find interesting. Several of the TA's will be writing sample articles that we consider to be good guides for quality; feel free to read these to get a feel for our expectations.
You will be required to comment on at least three posts written by other students. Two of these will be randomly assigned to you (TBA) and the third will be your choice. You are not expected to perform any additional research for your comments, but should provide some sort of insightful feedback that shows that you have read and (hopefully) understood the author's post. Each comment should be at least one paragraph long.
Each of the staff have also written comments on each other's sample articles that are of appropriate quality.