Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer Session #3: Present Shock

Summer Session #3: Present Shock

If you were unable to attend today's summer session, read the summary of the class below and then complete the assignment that follows the summary.

Part Zero:
Before we started I wanted to make sure everyone understands that there are three major types of writing that are required on the AP English Language exam:
(1) rhetorical analysis essay (in which you analyze how the writing contributes to the purpose; in other words, how a writer makes an argument) 
(2)  argument essay (in which you develop and support a position on an issue by using experiences, observations, and/or prior learning)
(3) synthesis essay (in which you develop and support a claim by synthesizing ideas and information from multiple sources)

We have practiced each of these types of writing this summer. If asked could you explain how each activity you've done this summer prepares you to effectively write one or more of the essays listed above? 

Part One: working in groups to understand the parts of the argument
We split into five groups. Each group focused on one of the sections of Present Shock: "Narrative Collapse," "Digiphrenia," "Overwinding," "Fractalnoia," and "Apocalypto." Then presented three things: five major points (or claims) made in the section, a passage that the group thought was exceptionally effective in developing a claim, and a stylistically interesting sentence.

Part Two: working as a class to understand how the parts of the argument fit together
This was the longest part of class. Each group presented the major claims made in its section and how those claims were developed and supported. Then, we began to make connections between the parts of the argument by answering the question: what do the parts have to do with the concept of "present shock"? And, what do the parts in one section have to do with the parts in a different section?

We also wrote down ideas we heard during the group presentations and added them to the summaries of the argument that we did at home.

Part Three: responding to an argument that we understand
(We actually did this between parts one and two because I wanted to do it before a couple people left, but I had intended this as part three.)

We read a response by a man named David Phillips to Douglas Rushkoff's concept of "present shock". Here's the response:

I'm convinced that "present shock", like so many other unnecessary criticisms of modern information technology, is a misinterpretation of today's youth, and today's lifestyles by today's adults. People who have grown up connected generally see no problems with the changes that internet technology have brought about, and it seems that all of the counterarguments come from people who didn't experience personal development in stride with technological development. Of course there are downsides to internet culture, but downsides come with every culture. Frankly, it's patronizing for a relatively novice internet user to offer critique to other people's lives.

We discussed the validity of Phillips response and the accuracy of his understanding of Rushkoff's arguments. Then at different points throughout the morning we offered our own responses to parts of Rushkoff's argument. What parts rang true? What parts related to our own experiences? What parts did not?

Part Four*: How is style significant?
I noticed that some of you struggled to write about the style of the first two books, so I thought we'd end by practicing this a bit more.

So we started by analyzing Rushkoff's use of memorable words and phrases to summarize complex ideas: "the short forever," "digiphrenia," "fractalnoia," and "present shock" (the title itself). We were able to explain how the short phrases and made-up words (neologisms) could be broken into pieces and how those pieces could be used to explain key concepts in Rushkoff's argument.

Then we analyzed a single sentence from the book. We noticed that the sentence consisted of several key elements: (1) a statement followed by a conclusion (x therefore y), (2) several forms of punctuation that indicated pauses and turns in the sentence (commas and a dash), (3) a list offering specific examples, and (4) repetition at the end. We talked about how each aspect of the sentence style was significant.

Then we tried writing a sentence of our own--about anything we wanted--in which we used each of the four elements listed above.

Part Five:Wrapping Up
Schoolwide Summer Reading
Then, at the very end I reminded people about the schoolwide summer reading assignment. (Click here for more.) And you then reminded each other about the "summer reading ticket," which I promised to post a link to: here it is.

Rhetorical Analysis Web
I also let you know that the next assignment will something called a "rhetorical analysis web." This will be a way of assessing how well your able, first, to understand an argument made by a book and, second, to explain how aspects of the book contribute to the argument.

Soon I'll be sending more information about this assignment which will be due at the beginning of the second week of school

Late Work
Any summer work you have not yet submitted is due on or before the first day of class. Nothing turned in after the first day of school will be accepted for credit.

Additional note: any work turned in after this week will be graded without teacher comments.

1. Write a response to David Phillips that synthesizes your understanding of his comments with your careful reading of Present Shock and with your own experiences and observations of digital technology. Be thoughtful. Be persuasive. Convince me with logical development and supporting detail.

2. Write a sentence of your own that includes the four elements described above in "part four".

Post the response and the sentence in the comment box below.


  1. 1) It is quiet true that there are downsides to all cultural advancements. The way Rushkoff, who uses the internet and various technologies every day, phrased his argument was that people should not get too developed into technology. Technology is a good thing to use and learn how to use as it helps with everyday lives as Rushkoff explained through his own various examples. What Rushkoff emphasized with Present Shock was that people today are becoming too enveloped into a world were technology is being over used and is creating a collapse of culture. Rushkoff never stated that the youth were being droned into a world that should not exist, nor did he state that technology should be removed all together. It does not matter if you were a youth growing up in the fad or an eighty year old man who cannot work a telephone the criticism brought by Rushkoff states a shock of always living in the present as technologies almost force us to keep our minds wanting to stay up with the current news. We now as humans in the 21st century do not stop anymore as long as we have a phone and internet in our hands and we all need to take a step back to breathe.
    2) A piece of art can be observed by any way the watcher wants—it can be noted that he/she will almost never be able to understand the true meaning behind the artist’s mind, for example no one truly knows why Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, therefore it can be interpreted by the observer in any way that they want but they will never know what he really meant by the painting.

  2. Indeed, life has changed with the advent of the digital age. Especially in the fields of research and communication. The resources available to people now are simply unprecedented compared to what we might have had 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. The amount of data available to us as a culture are simply incredible, one can google, say "How to take care of a pet hedgehog" and learn comprehensively every simgle thing that they could possibly ever need to take care of their pet hedgehog. They can see pictures of people taking care of their hedgehog, they can look at food requirements, different subspecies, waste management, anything they could ever want. However, even as this huge behemoth of information known as the internet makes our world more easily accessible, it also puts untold pressure on the individual to experience it all. Like Rushkoff says, we feel compelled to take in every little bit of information in our lives exactly as it happpens, because it's right there, so for the sake of the efficiency that the internet and other technologies provide, we struggle to keep up with the present, even as we lose track of all other periods of time trying to cope. Present Shock is definitely a problem that needs to be acknowledged and studied, so we as a species can better learn to cope with it, and can spend less time trying to absorb information from every facet of our loives at once, and can instead focus on managing time correctly and efficiently without needing to overload our *brains on frivalous inforation. the internet is a great tool that has been used to help people, can link people millions of miles away, and teach people how to train the happiest hedgehog of all time, but if it is allowed to control us as Rushkoff is warning us against, it may end up being a detriment to us all in the long run

    the McDonalds corporation can definitely be considered evil, not because they serve food items with multitudes of chemical additives and little to no nutritional value, but because they lie about it. McDonalds has tried very hard to retain its image, for example there is a law requiring that they list nutrition facts for all their food, so they hide the facts tables under placemats and behind advertising posters. This indicates that they are consiously attempting to keep required infomation away from their customers and keeping them as uninformed as possible, and therefore more likely to buy their food in larger and larger increments, totally ignorant of the effect that the food has on them, therefore, McDonalds may not be attempting to truly kil its cunstomers, but it is trying to decieve them and keep them in the dark.

  3. Society evolves, just as humans do. The relationship between cultural trends and human psychology is am interlinked one. Allowing native americans to begin learning to use a matchlock musket, giving a typist the skills they need to transition to a computer. It is no different looking at the beginning of the digital age. Large numbers of adults, accustomed to typing, calculating and arranging in the analog were introduced to the instant messaging, touch screen using, digital television watching generation of the twenty first century. To some it became a shock, but many were able to adapt. Learn to use it's tools to their advantage. Connect with mates on facebook, twitter, or others. Communicating by email or text message. As in any other century, modern technology is able to improve the lives of all, perhaps more than it can detriment. Video games are a cause of childhood obesity, however lifealert devices can save the lives of elderly citizens. So while Douglas Rushkoff's warnings of Present Shock do have validity, David Phillips comes much closer to the truth. Phillips points out that adults born in another time have been able to fit present technology into a healthy lifestyle, and more importantly the generation born into this century accept modern technology as tools for everyday.

    Music listeners from earlier in the twentieth century have a difficult time adjusting to the popular sounds of modern music-in part because of the industries hurried pace, with the advent of social media, digital recording, and worldwide web, musicians can discover and present their own unique music across the globe to any audience, allowing an endless number of genres to be created-this fast -paced, ever changing industry is very unfamiliar to those used to a corporation influenced, analog era.

  4. 1.
    My own experiences to digital technology and my observations have to agree more with David Phillips' reaction to the book. Not everyone is experiencing this "present shock" that Rushkoff talks about. There are a lot of areas where we cannot stand to be without our phones, but that is more because of what is connected to it. It is not a lifeline, but it is meant to make life easier, having everything you need in case of emergency at your fingertips. There are downsides to the advancements in technology. Like how a lot of people are addicted to it for one reason or another. But that is the exception. Not everyone who owns a device like this is dictated by it as Rushkoff makes it out to be. Technology is personalized and really just another resource for us to use. Not for it to use us.
    When it pours, it rains; however, it does not always pour when it rains- like when it sprinkles, drizzles, and lightly precipitates-but when it pours, it rains.

  5. 1. After reading David Phillips response to the book Present Shock I found that I agree much more with him than I did with Rushkoff. Life has changed greatly throughout the years, much so through technology. People who have grown up with technology as a part of everyday life may have a greater risk for Present Shock as Rushkoff has pointed out in his novel. But most adults have found a way to live side by side with technology without having it control their lives entirely. Present Shock doesn't affect everyone who uses technology. Though technology is a big part of life in the 21st century it doesn't control us. Each person has a different relationship with technology, the term Present Shock labels all people who use technology rather than a select few like it should.

    2. In the fall the weather is different than in other seasons; it's cool but also warm-not harsh like winter but not as light and airy spring, and of course not as hot as summer- the weather in fall is much different than the other seasons.

  6. Internet culture certainly has it's drawbacks as well as it's benefits. It allows people to connect with each other, build and keep lasting relationships.It's true as the author argues that people have lost some of the individual real time experiences that being online in various ways takes away. However based on my observations personal growth and development simply can't ever occur in stride with technology. It occurs in stride with the values a certain culture presents that has nothing to do with technology, but the new ideas and theories constantly being presented in various ways.

    Summer is like a story; it begins after the last day of school, next it continues on with two months of fun in the sun, then finally it ends officially after labor day weekend.

  7. As a young person, i have been brought up with our current technology. I remember first getting an iPhone realizing how many things it can truly be used for and being amazed at how integrated technology can be in our daily lives. Phillips argues that technology is a part of our culture, it is not ruining us or overpassing us and leaving us behind. Technology is good for so many things, life as we know it would not exist with our tremendous strides in technology. We are not in a present shock, our devices and cultures change through time and they have been since the day humans first roamed the earth. Change is not unnatural for us, as humans I think we crave change more than anything. Technology gives us that change and that ability to be connected, be successful, have fuller lives. While valid arguments can be made against this, as they are in Present Shock, technology has not changed us, we have changed technology.

    2.) A square is a rectangle; although a rectangle is not a square, for a square has four equal sides, but a rectangle does not, they both have four sides and ninety degree angles- but a rectangle is not a square.