The Fault in Our Reasoning

(Kinda like this)

As I have previously gabbed on about (and here and here), warrants are imperative when making arguments because they are usually where issues arise with readers: why they would disagree and reject what you’re saying. Warrants are guiding principles for our reasoning and they often go unexplained or left suppressed–which, as we have discussed, is often problematic.  Why? Because! we aren’t all committed to the same beliefs/ideologies/views/ideas/what-have-yous. (And some people will never budge with what they believe, no matter what.) What’s important to remember is that it’s not always enough for an argument to be persuasive merely based on the claim, evidence, and reasoning connection; you need to understand your audience in order to understand how much heavy lifting you need to do with your reasoning with explaining the warrants of your work.

It’s difficult (and frustrating) to understand what warrant(s) need explaining given how many warrants can be at play given a particular discussion. Many times there are competing warrants given any argument.  Situations are complex, and people vary so much with how they understand them given their thinking and interpretations of particular issues. The Key Point: Don’t assume your reader will agree with you and your principles!

NOTE: When thinking about our specific purposes for the Inquiry Project, your methodology with your sources is meant to help your reader understand what you’re bringing to the table to analyze the particular problem you have established.  Your methodology gives the reader a framework for how you’re thinking/discussing the points throughout the paper: setting up the research and support you will draw on later in the essay to help situate concepts, context, definitions, etc.

Thinking about warrants also allows us to consider faulty ones, where the flaws in our reasoning can be identified and even categorized into general errors people make in argumentation. We call these things logical fallacies, and there are many of them. One of the biggest problems with fallacious arguments is that they’re disguised as valid ones. Consider the following:

We knew if Tommy showed up to Wednesday’s foursquare practice then he was definitely going to take home the gold in Saturday’s Jam-Off. He didn’t show up, though, so he’s not going to win.

This particular fallacy, denying the antecedent, often goes overlooked: Just because Tommy doesn’t show up to practice doesn’t mean he won’t win Saturday.  (Who knows what will happen at the Jam-Off!)  It’s easier to see the problem if we change the example but keep the same form:

We knew if Tommy became a firefighter he would save the lives of others. Unfortunately, he became a heart surgeon so he will never save anyone.

Despite being filled in with different content, both examples follow the same structure and are therefore equally fallacious. This is why fallacies have names: the structures have been used so many times to warrant an identity of type, where we can look to these types to readily pick them out when committed.

Though, merely knowing the names of fallacies and identifying them in stock examples doesn’t get us very far.  (It’s almost like a parlor trick.) It’s not hard for students to identify fallacies in examples when having time to deliberate; what’s hard is to not catch yourself committing one (or many) when it matters. This is (in part) why I suggest that, for our purposes with the Inquiry Project, we shouldn’t worry about specific fallacies over thinking of their general nature and the kinds of things they are doing: whether they are manipulating the structure of an argument, someone’s character, or the audience’s emotions.

Exploring Demands #OLE-F15

The range of courses surveyed similar in nature to the core classes offered in the Department of Focused Inquiry (particularly Focused Inquiry I & II and Inquiry & the Craft of Argument) all put emphasis on specific skill development within the course and express expected learning outcomes after successful completion.  Many of these skills and expectations are fairly uniform: written communication, research, critical thinking, and some descriptor for collaboration (sometimes identified simply as “teamwork“).  Moreover, several syllabi indicate the importance of process when researching and writing, where the the student’s research persists over several weeks and is documented by journal entries on the articles compiled and read, ultimately culminating in the foundation of the research paper capstone assignment for the course. To help in skill development, the courses include readings from composition textbooks–some made by the specific departments themselves–and have names that include either something like “First Year-Writing,” “A Guide to Writing,” or “Essays on Writing.”  Some even included the full schedule for the semester (though not many).

Of course, these things seem normal for any syllabus in any discipline for any course.  A standard syllabus highlights the course description, the objectives of the course, what one needs to buy for the course, how grades are break down for assignments, etc.  They also include a lot of policies, both for the specific classes and for the university at large.  What’s interesting to note, though, is that these details at times come in ways that go beyond mere prescriptions and veer towards ostensible scare tactics.  First, there is a lot of a bold throughout many syllabi.  I understand the intention to punctuate important parts of a syllabus or a schedule (I do it frequently); however, not all highlighting is equal.  I understand the importance of prescriptions, but it doesn’t seem like they should parallel the importance of the goals and design of a course.  Consider the following  from Indiana University Bloomington:

ATTENDANCE POLICY:
Students are required to attend all classes, arrive on time, and be prepared to work: you will earn one point for each class you do so. Points available during a missed class cannot be made up. Remember: this is not a correspondence class; if you are interested in doing the work, but not in showing up to class, you should register for the online version of ENGL 111. If there is an appropriate reason for a student’s absence or late arrival, the student must let the instructor know
(in advance if possible), and it is the student’s responsibility to find out what was covered and to make sure you are prepared for the next class (check Class Sessions on Blackboard).

STUDENT BEHAVIOR STATEMENT: Students should always conduct themselves in a
respectful manner. No conduct will be tolerated that might endanger or threaten anyone in the class. Disruptive behavior, substance abuse, downgrading or disparaging remarks, and any other behavior that shows a lack of respect for the instructor or other students will not be tolerated. This includes use of mobile phones and laptops. We are in class for a reason: to improve your writing. Playing on laptops and phones not only wastes your time and mine, but it distracts others in the class. Neither should be used during class. At the instructor’s discretion, a student causing problems may be asked to leave the class for the session. If a student persists n causing problems, further disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including dismissal from class and/or the College.

These points come immediately after the introductory list of course goals in the beginning of the syllabus–coming way before the details of course content–suggesting that they are high priority issues regarding course identity.  If so, the syllabus suggests a class ethos that is built more around what not to do rather than what the course will offer pedagogically.  (And introductory comp classes can’t afford to frustrate or scare students, especially off the bat.)  Here is a similar point in the grade breakdown from a syllabus from University of Texas Arlington:

The Z grade is reserved for students who attend class regularly, participate actively, and complete all the assigned work on time but simply fail to write well enough to earn a passing grade. This judgment is made by the instructor and not necessarily based upon a number average. The Z grade is intended to reward students for good effort. While students who receive a Z will not get credit for the course, the Z grade will not affect their grade point average. They may repeat the course for credit until they do earn a passing grade.

Although I find it compelling to offer students a do-over without grade point average penalty, the creation of a new category of grade only seems to feed into a punitive system where performance is reduced to a letter while also adding to the criticism that grade marks themselves are arbitrary. What’s the point in making up new grades for students that are necessarily juxtaposed with standard letters of evaluation?

I see the merit in these moves, though I can only help but think they’re small attempts at covering up systemic problems.  No syllabus will be so dazzling that it will convince all students to always come to class and turn in their work on time or so motivating that it will enhance student performance.  But, they also don’t have to foreground the alternatives.

Meeting the OLEers & appear.in

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Wednesday marked our first group virtual meeting with fellow OLE participants (thanks again, Jay. #GoTeamAdams) and my first experience with appear.in.  I’ve used Google Hangouts many times before (faculty meetings, open discussions for class, individual student meetings) but, aside from trying Skype a couple of times, I’ve never thought to go beyond Google for virtual work/class purposes–an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of mentality.

What I found valuable with appear.in was how easy it was to set up and execute.  Google Hangouts aren’t too difficult, but it’s not intuitive.  Students have had trouble getting set up for virtual meetings just from not having much Google+ experience, even though it seems easy to get everything running.  With appear.in, they really just need the link and a camera/mic setup.  Additionally, the feel of the “room” was the closest to office hours I have experienced: causal and fluid.  Hangouts and similar online meetings seem to suffer sometimes from criticism that they are “artificial” (i.e. “weird”);  Appear.in seems to be a strong platform to alleviate this worry.  Everyone is visible at the same time–whereas Hangouts and other programs focus on the speaker as default–adding to the fluidity (or non-weirdness) of the conversation.

In short: It feels casual, because it is.

This is definitely not an urge to adopt appear.in over other platforms.  Though, while meeting our group for the first time, I couldn’t help but think that appear.in may be the first alternative to brick and mortar conferences with students that would be functional, easily utilized, and something they may actually take me up on.

Analog Underdog

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Several weeks ago after Peter first switched rooms to teach in the Incubator, he wanted to know what Enoch and I thought was the most valuable element of the room to use for class.  There are many cool things that can happen in the Incubator, and I am still finding more ways to utilize them as cooly and keenly as possible. Though, when prompted with this question, Enoch and I both lauded the multiple whiteboards as some of the biggest highlights of the room. It’s true that I have yet to explore everything the room has to offer (but give me time), and am still very interested in the exploration.  But, I can’t help but still be widely enamored with the ability to have groups of students at different boards making their thinking visible in concert and on a physical space.  This does not come from a fear of technology or without the understanding that group work can be made visible and collaborative on things like wikis and Google Drive.  What’s most compelling is that we have been able to toy with conveying views in unique and modular ways in real time together.  Something I am striving to pursue in this class in this classroom is how thoughts and arguments can be articulated clearly and creatively: going beyond prescriptions to allow for more organic demonstrations of reasoning.  Consider the following:

As a class, we looked at a particular concept video to analyze.  I asked students to break up into groups and map out on their respective whiteboards how we can better interpret the video given a particular theme they found valuable to explore.  I told them that I didn’t care how the map looked, but that they needed to walk everyone through their focus and reasoning once they were finished.  The comparison of outcomes was excellent.

 

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This group intentionally used the first board to establish a foundational question and the second to explore the larger dilemma as they framed it.  Though not incredibly robust in explanation with the branching bubbles, this demonstrates the group’s efforts with the initial steps of inquiry: starting with a question of interest (albeit speculative and broad) and breaking down its parts for deeper exploration.

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In a more traditional brainstorming model, this group started with a particular facet of the video as the central focus to explore and then tried to capture its dimensions while also making comparisons to other technologies.

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Rather than a web, this group functionally sketched out their potential argument for interpretation, starting with a claim at the top-left and working through with evidence and reasons.

I don’t mean to suggest here with these examples that everything counts as solid interpretive work or that everything is an argument.  (I firmly reject both of these sentiments.)  And I certainly don’t mean to denounce digital technology in the classroom–I love it.  What I find valuable here is that, as instructors, we make sure to try and help our students articulate and share their views in clear, significant, and unique ways: that we are always attuned to the spaces we occupy and what we have around us for use–shiny and new or not–to test for best practices.

Intro to #VCUOLE

Hello!  I’m Ryan Cales, and I’m a fellow participant in the Online Learning Experience from the Department of Focused Inquiry.  I have previously taught online and have spent the past two years toying around with online tools/platforms in various classes to boost student engagement.  Last summer I was an instructor in the #thoughtvectors cMOOC digital engagement pilot for UNIV 200 (Code Name: “Living the Dreams: Digital Investigation and Unfettered Minds”) and am now currently teaching a connected face-to-face iteration of the course in concert with five other colleagues.  (Here is my summer section’s course site and here is the current one.)  Additionally, I have collaborated a bunch with Dr. Jason Coats (also a part of this experience!) over the years and currently share a course site with him for our six sections of UNIV200: Inquiry & the Craft of Argument in an attempt to better connect students across classes.  I’ve also used Tumblr a bit as a course gallery in UNIV213: The Truth About Lying and have been interested in online gamification in the classroom.  I’m very excited to work with everyone here and see how others are thinking of connected learning and other Web things in their courses.

 

Framing Claims

courtesy of flickr.com

courtesy of flickr.com

As I have mentioned previously, we are concerned with generating conceptual, interpretive questions and claims in this class, all of which go beyond binary pro/con, yes/no, good/bad thought.  In getting there, we need to ensure that our main claims–our theses–are doing meaningful, interpretive work. Such theses should be new contributions to how we understand the world and that provoke audience interests and questions.  (At the very least, your main claim needs to be debatable, supportable, and significant to your audience.  See Dr. Coats’s post on descriptions for the claim criteria we have discussed in class.)  If you succeed in making a strong thesis with equally strong support, people will still disagree with you.  Though, disagreement, rather than mere dismissal, is a mark of success.  It means that you are contributing to the world and making it a better place through discussing new interpretations of data.  You’re so good!

The best way to set up your argument and demonstrate why your thesis is compelling—and that it’s worth it for the reader to continue reading to find out why he/she should believe it—is to first establish a framework in the introduction of your project for the problem you wish to explore and that your argument will give response.  Thus, it’s prudent to establish these three components up front:

  1. A statement regarding what is typically understood about your topic, including necessary background and context (the status quo).
  2. A statement regarding what you have come to believe is problematic with this. typical understanding (the problem), including why this problem is significant to the reader.
  3. Your thesis, encapsulating what you think people should embrace instead of the status quo.

Consider this paragraph (Note: I made most of this stuff up):

Most scholars have agreed that, prior to the late 19th century, throwing playing cards (often referred to as “scaling”) was a low-form spectacle: generally limited to tricks used by amateur magicians and intoxicated gamblers.  It was only until French magician Alexander Herrmman’s “flying card” act in 1890 that card throwing was accepted as a veritable skill. [1]  However, this reading of history undermines the significance of the work of conjurer Holtz Bellini to the art of card throwing. [2]  Though not well known in popular circles of performers, his card routines incorporated insurmountable speed and accuracy.   Further journal evidence was found in an 1846 issue of The Monthly Ruse which revealed a promotion of Bellini’s work, indicating that he would be “the first conjurer ever to successfully saw a woman in half with playing cards alone” (33).  Moreover, in “52 Reasons to Reconsider Messing with a Magician,”Calvin Tinks and Laverne Copp report that Bellini’s throwing abilities were reminiscent of 17th century martial arts, with particular similarities to the Dragon Scale Dance technique of instrument manipulation (803). [3]  If we overlook Bellini’s career, particularly his work touring in antebellum America, we jeopardize our understanding of the lineage of card throwing and how this history has influenced contemporary performers. [4]   By looking deeper into his methods and acts during the mid-ninetieth century, we can see that Bellini’s work serves an as integral link between old forms of object manipulation and new forms of scaling. [5]

1. Here is the status quo, establishing the general context of the issue and typical understanding of the history.
2. This begins the turn with the problem, where the common understanding of the the history is destabilized by pointing to what is missing given the common conception leaving out the importance of Bellini.
3. This serves as further evidence to bolster support for the problem actually existing.
4. Here is the significance of the problem, urging what is at stake for the reader by accepting the common conception of the issue.
5. The thesis.  This is what the rest of the paper goes on to show is true to replace the current status quo.  Notice that this is not a claim picking a side of an issue, but one that calls for a different and better understanding of it.

For longer projects,  it takes longer to establish these major parts of the introduction.  But no matter what, by the end of your introduction, your audience should have a clear understanding of the problem at hand, why it’s necessary to care about this problem, and the precise and significant thesis you will support and that responds to the problem at hand.

When looking to the thesis itself, understand that you should concern yourself with something that will change the way people think about the particular problem you establish rather than something like a call to action or a policy change.  There is an important distinction between practical (i.e. tangible) problems and conceptual (i.e. interpretive) ones.  Practical problems deal with applying understandings we already have.  However, before we can do anything in the world in terms of action, we need to have grounded and sophisticated understandings of the issue.  (Otherwise we would just be running around the world like jerks asserting stuff with no tenable grasp as to why action should happen.) Providing these sophisticated understandings–supporting conceptual claims–is what we concern ourselves with when addressing our particular audiences.

Consider the differences between these two claims:

Claim 1: We need to elect more Green Party candidates into office.
Claim 2: Grassroots democracy initiatives are significantly overlooked and undervalued given their potential for community-building and prosperity.

The first is a practical claim telling us what should happen in the world; it necessarily calls for an action with voters, otherwise it won’t work.  The second is a interpretive claim telling us how we should understand a particular concept (grassroots democracy) and why it’s so significant to our lives. Although it may seems like the first claim is more desirable, it’s not nearly as sophisticated or precise as the second.  Moreover, it doesn’t really get to the significance of the issue at hand.  Of course, a paper written to support such a claim could include such justification, but it would take a great deal of work and would still run the risk of being broad and nebulous.  The second claim is specific and has the significance built in for us.  Also, it’s important to note that, in order to buy claim 1, you need to have an understanding of something like claim 2, which most people clearly don’t have.  This is not to say that the answer to your conceptual problem shouldn’t ever yield potential for practical significance—doing things in the world to better it is great!  Though, asserting and supporting conceptual claims is where our work here lies: trying to get our audiences to think of specific phenomena in the world in a different, better way.  If you suspect that your thesis is too practical, try to find a way to take the action you want to promote and move it into the background so that it becomes personal justification for your interpretation of your primary text.

Here are some other practical claims.  How can we make them conceptual ones?

1.Parents should have the right to choose whether their children get vaccinations.
2. Emojis should be used as evidence in court cases dealing with communication via texts.
3. Social matchmaking apps such as Tinder should enforce background checks for their users.

Digging Deep with Arguments

Before getting into argument components and all their wonder, here is a quick note about analysis:

Whenever we look to study anything, need to have very specific data to analyze.  Consider the following things: “ Hollywood horror film,” “office memo for a large company,” “store sign.”  Though these are more specific than their larger counterparts—movies, office documents, signs—they are still fairly abstract.  These are what we can refer to as “types” of things, rather than specific “tokens.”  We can make “store sign” more specific by looking at particular film—say, the Apple Store sign.  This gets us closer to a token of the type “store sign.”  Though, it could get even more precise.  A token could be the Apple Store sign at Short Pump Mall.  When using primary texts for our purposes with the CAP, we want something closer to a token than a type.

Consider this range of specificity:

Very Abstract: Social Media
Abstract: Facebook
Concrete: My Facebook Profile Page
Very Concrete: A full screenshot of my Facebook page from today, or, my status updates from the past week.

We need very concrete texts because they afford us actual hard data we can use pull out for analysis: looking at everything on the page and picking out salient parts for evidence given your angle/perspective.

OKAY.  Now we’re ready for the argument talk.

Simply put, an argument is a set of reasons (we can also call them premises) working together to show why a thesis is true.   People discuss ‘argument’ differently given particular disciplines. Philosophers, for instance, typically break arguments down formally into premises and conclusions. Consider the following example:

Premise 1: If the building is burning down, then we should run like hell.
Premise 2: The building is burning down!
Therefore, we should run like hell!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is an example of a formal argument where the conclusion necessarily follows from the premises—meaning, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. Though we can break arguments down this way, we typically don’t make formal arguments in common conversation and writing. Rather, we typically use informal ways of discussing arguments like enthymemes (or brief arguments). Here is the same argument as an enthymeme:

We should run like hell (claim) because the building is burning down! (reason)

From here we get to the elements of argument we have discussed so far in class:
Claim: The point you’re trying to prove true
Evidence: The data you interpret to support your reasoning
Reasoning: Your explanation of how/why the evidence supports the claim

We can think of these as the logical elements (logos) of argument. Though, as we began discussing today, it’s not always enough for an argument to be persuasive merely based on the strength of the writer’s claim, evidence, and reasoning.  Arguments are rhetorical endeavors; you must think about the specific audience you are addressing and how an argument is appropriately tailored given this audience.  Thus, it’s important to understand the moments in your argument where you need to spend time explaining your assumptions and beliefs/principles you’re invoking to frame and support your work.  Otherwise, your argument will have limited success.

From here, we get the importance of these:
Warrants: The belief/principles) connecting one’s reasoning to his/her claim.

Warrants are imperative when making arguments and are usually where issues arise with readers: why they would disagree and potentially oppose what you’re selling.  They are also, at times, tricky to understand.  Warrants involve the relevance of a reason, and the relevance is not something where everyone will necessarily agree.  They are principles that are often based in our societal commitments–and we know we all don’t share the same commitments.  Similarly, we won’t all agree on the truth of all warrants.

In certain instances, we don’t have to explain our warrants when making arguments.  Consider the brief building burning argument above. The warrant connecting the reason to the claim would be something like, we don’t want to die. You probably wouldn’t even need to go far past “The burning is building!” to convince someone to run.  However, there isn’t much work being done here.  More complex arguments–even slightly more complex arguments–need explicit warrants.  Consider my example in class today with drinking coffee. The conversation could go like this:

You: Ryan, you shouldn’t be drinking coffee right now (claim) because you’re sick (reason).
Me: Why does being sick matter with drinking coffee?
You: Coffee dehydrates you (evidence) and will deplete your body causing you to stay sick longer. Since you want to get better as quickly as possible (warrant), you should cut the coffee for now.
Me: Ah, fair enough. But I need coffee to get through the day. Have you seen me without it? No, because it’s the worst! I become this terrible monster, like a Gorg. Since no one wants to be around a terrible Gorg Ryan (warrant), I’m going to take the hit, enjoy my drink, and just suck down more Emergen-C.

(Note: It’s really not that bad. I’ve cut consumption quite a bit)

Though you may make a valuable case why I shouldn’t drink coffee while I’m sick and want to get better—and I do—it doesn’t trump my commitment to wanting to drink and be merry. This is why the logical elements of argument are not enough on their own: audience matters. The point: many warrants can be at play and compete at any given time. Because of this, you need to make sure that they are relevant, specific, and superior to other warrants.

Core concepts from readings act as warrants for your own work.  You will not use them as mere evidence for your argument (like you would reports of data, for instance).  Rather, you will take the claims/assertions of the authors we have discussed and apply them to your primary text: resting on what they have said for support.  When looking to core readings (and any source you may use ever in life) for warrants to utilize for your own work, look for argumentative moments where the authors are positing a view rather than just providing a description of something.

Signals for Warrants

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courtesy of flickr.com

When incorporating the core readings into your work, you must introduce the author.  You do this by using signal phrasesSignal phrases are ways to introduce your reader to the ideas of others in a clear way. The way they look varies given particular style guides (APA, MLA, etc.), though they serve the same purpose. They are also necessary in academic writing.

Here are some examples with the signaling verb in bold.

*As economist Thomas Puddledunk suggests, “The working class will always create a cyclical and systematic rise and fall of equitable resources” (15).
*World renowned Slamball sports columnist Jack Freely states, “In any game, both teams want to win. What matters is who does” (2).
* Psuedopsychologist Robert Colbert claims, “Access to the mind only begins with the acknowledgment of the self while the self is aligned with the stars” (43).
*As postmodern philosopher Michel Mandermeer argues, “A prelapsarian reading of David Mamet’s About Last Night… both denies a Derridean ontology and negates a necessary epistemological contradiction of the body” (71).

Of course, there are many verbs you can use in phrases. The choice, though, is not arbitrary: use the verb you find best fits with how the author discusses the relevant idea.

When using signal phrases, also understand that you must cite all of the information coming from the source, paraphrased or not. This looks different given the style you use. For instance, APA privileges the year of publication as well as where as where the information comes from in the text, but is in past tense and typically does not include many direct quotations.

APA Example: Economist Thomas Puddledunk (2015) suggested that “the working class will always create a cyclical and systematic rise and fall of equitable resources” (p. 3).

No matter what, you need to include the page number (or the closest approximation, if there are no page numbers) for where you retrieved the information.

No Page Number Example: World renowned Slamball sports columnist Jack Freely (2015) stated, “In any game, both teams want to win. What matters is who does” (para 4).

Here you would have to count the paragraphs to see where the quotation came from. This way, your reader understands exactly where to look for this information if he/she wanted to check the original source.

The idea is to get as much mileage out of your sources as possible. The major points you use from the sources will act as warrants—not evidence—for your work.  It’s not incredibly important that you use the language of “warrant” so much as it is important that you understand how the sources are used.  You’re not relying on them for facts, but resting on the author’s work to bolster your own.  They act as principles to establish your own work–you don’t need to prove they’re true.  (Another way of putting this is that they act as conditionals for your assertions: something like, “If Shirky is right, then it seems that…”).

Here is a breakdown of using the core readings: taking the direct passage from a source, paraphrasing the passage (i.e. putting it into your own words), using a signal phrase with the paraphrased passage, and then finally incorporating this into a body paragraph of a paper. (Note: the final segment is an outline of each element working in the argumentative paragraph structure.)

  1. Direct Quotation from Shirky:

“In a world where a dozen editors, all belonging to the same professional class, can decide whether to run or kill a national story, information that might be of interest to the general public may not be published not because of a conspiracy but because the editors have a professional bias that is not aligned by the similar challenges they face and by the similar tools they use to approach those challenges. The mass amateurization of publishing undoes the limitations inherent in having a small number of traditional press outlets” (65).

  1. This Paraphrased by me:

The Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by institutions.

  1. Incorporated with Signal Phrase:
    As Clay Shirky suggests,the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by institutions (65).
  1. This used as a Warrant in Critical Analysis:

Major network television news anchors have become archaic resources of information. As Clay Shirky suggests, the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by large companies and institutions (65). Shows such as Dateline and Meet the Press, though certainly still viewed by many, do not garner the same amount of attention they did in previous decades. We can now both select the kinds of news we would like to access from an array of like-minded individuals from various online platforms while also receiving such news with swift delivery. Now that we can access reports and data analyses at any given moment in a day, relying on delegated time slots for broadcast journalism is both unnecessary and arbitrary.

  1. This Paragraph Broken Down in Argument Elements

Major network television news anchors have become archaic resources of information.[1] As Clay Shirky suggests, the Internet allows us to both readily and easily seek out news we understand is not necessarily vetted and controlled by large companies and institutions (65).[2] Shows such as Dateline and Meet the Press, though certainly still viewed by many, do not garner the same amount of attention they did in previous decades. We can now both select the kinds of news we would like to access from an array of like-minded individuals from various online platforms while also receiving such news with swift delivery.[3] Now that we can access reports and data analyses at any given moment in a day,[4] relying on delegated time slots for broadcast journalism is both unnecessary and arbitrary.[5]

Here is another example my super brilliant and wonderful UTAs from last semester made using Malcolm Gladwell. A bit of background for their analysis: Caine’s Arcade is a story in which a 9 year-old boy, Caine, set up a makeshift cardboard Arcade. Although overlooked by many, one person took notice to Caine’s Arcade and made a documentary about it, making Caine Internet famous, with around a hundred customers per week, setting up a scholarship fund, and starting a cardboard “diy” empire across the country.)

(The “thesis” we are exploring is do-it-yourself (DIY) culture- how the shift has occurred from interest in mass production to DIY solutions, with an emphasis on communication as can be seen through Caine’s Arcade)

While there are a plethora of creative children across the country, it is rare for them to achieve the same amount of success as Caine for their innovation; the question becomes why this particular young person has become so successful with his DIY empire. Caine’s success hinges on one particular person, documentarian Nirvan Mullick, who served as a catalyst for his popularity. Gladwell explores this phenomenon of a singular person serving as agents for particular movements; and further asserts that “a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few” (37). Mullick is one of these individuals, as he was the person who took Caine’s story to a widely accessible platform. Mullick fits into Gladwell’s classification of a “Connector,” people who have a broad and functioning network with many other individuals in different social spheres (48). Because of Mullick’s desire to share Caine’s work, and his social connections that allowed Caine’s cardboard sentiment to spread; his cardboard masterpieces were the inspiration for the materialization of DIY dreams of thousands of others.

[1] Sub-claim (i.e. topic sentence)

[2] Warrant

[3] Evidence

[4] Warrant

[5] Reasoning