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Peer Review, Part 3

First off, I didn’t mean to turn this in so late. I thought I had to do a different blog post, and I missed this one entirely. Peer review, this time around, was not nearly as effective for me as it had been in its previous incarnations. This was the one project I felt very good about from the start, and I disagreed with many of the comments that were left for me by my classmates. I did feel that in many cases they simply did not understand what I was trying to get at because I was writing from the standpoint of a science fiction setting, and they corrected things that, in my mind, had no business being corrected. This is quite unlike the previous peer reviews, in which I agreed with 80% of the comments made on my papers and did my best to make those corrections. In regards to leaving comments on other papers, I felt that this one was hard to make comments on too, because it’s more subjective and it’s hard to make the call on what is in “style” and what isn’t. With the other projects, making comments was relatively easyas the papers were linear and topic, and written like traditional essays.

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You-Tube/Low-Bridge Videos

Interestingly enough, for someone as technologically inclined as I am, I am not a fan of making YouTube videos, or any videos at all, really. I can understand their merit, and the videos and articles made some good points about it, but personally, I just don’t like making them. I’m not very good with or in front of a camera. I feel like I can get my point across much easier in a written piece, or even a speech. Making a short video feels kind of flippant, and it, to me, does not get the point across nearly as well as an essay would. I feel like some people might be able to learn from this, but I am certainly the type of person that needs to learn the rules by applying them in the medium in which they are to be used. As for YouTube in general, I don’t even use it for much beyond music. Sometimes someone will send me a humorous video and I’ll watch that, but I don’t look anything like that up myself, and I mostly just listen to music or watch obscure music videos. I don’t understand Vlogs or anything else like that. I just am not a big fan of the entire site.

What Are Others Saying?

THe first blog that I decided to take a look at was that of Amanda Wagner. I found an interesting idea that she had about Williams, which was, ” I realize I was skeptical towards Williams at first but by explaining what to use in our writing  on our own level, giving suggestions or guidelines he lets us improve on our own writing at our own pace.” I happen to agree with this statement, as I believe it supports a similar idea that I had, which was that Williams’ guide was more of a guide to read beforehand, to help you improve your general writing. It is true that by doing this, you can work to improve it at your own pace. She also said, later in the same blog post, that, “If I had to choose one chapter out of Williams’ book, I would choose Chapter 6 “Coherence 2″ it represented the issues I have had in the organization of my writing and why some readers don’t truly get my point half the time. ” I would agree with her statements about this section of Williams’ book. Just the opening of the chapter alone was plenty to support this, because this is where Williams talks about the structure of and argument. The flow from Issue to Discussion to Point is very important, and even without much explanation the importance of this structure can be seen. As for Strunk and White, she saw something similar to what I did. Late in her post, she said, “Strunk and White might be more effective by the fact that it is more concise. If you have a quick question and you need to find the answer in a timely manner than you can.” I agreed with her on this point, in that she and I both found Strunk and White to be more of a quick reference handbook than a writing guide that will improve your overall writing style in any lasting and meaningful way. It’s more something you look at when you can’t remember how to properly use the semi-colon. The second blog that I decided to take a look at for this was Ana W.’s blog. After browsing through it, I found this statement, “Strunk & White stick to the rule based format, stating guidelines and giving examples but never discussing things in depth. ” This is similar to the last idea that I found in Amanda’s blog, in that Strunk and White think that they are keeping it simple with this rules format. Another thing Ana found that I thought was interesting was this, “the area I found S&W most helpful with was punctuation.” I completely agree with this statement, as Williams had little to say about it, but Strunk and White dedicate a large chunk of the beginning of the book for just this purpose. All in all, it seemed from the blogs that I looked at, that people agree with my point of view on these books for the most part, with Williams being the better book, but Strunk and White’s book  having its uses.

Comparing Strunk and White to Williams

When I was reading through both Style Guides, I found a few of the same problems and ideas coming up in the work of both of the authors. I felt, primarily, that it was odd, as people that were trying to educate people that, presumably, don’t already know these rules, that these authors used such difficult language. If Strunk and White’s book was as long as Williams’s book, I don’t think I could have gotten through it at all. I have to wonder, though, if this is just intellectual ignorance, or an overt condescension on the part of two authors that saw themselves as about the level of writing that the common man was capable of. Of the two, I feel like Williams did a better job of getting the ideas he wanted across to the average person that may have picked up his book, and his ideas were more usable to an advanced writer than Strunk and White, because he would go more in depth with his ideas than the older two writers did. With all of that said, however, I do see some merit for Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style over and above that of Joseph Williams Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. I see the use of The Elements of Style as a quick reference handbook. While Williams’s book was a better general handbook to sit down and read, to improve your writing overall. I feel like Strunk and White’s book can be more easily referenced when you can’t quite remember something while you are already writing. While it may be a chore to pull out William’s style guide and look through everything in a specific chapter until you find the specific piece of information that you’re looking for, you can pull out Strunk and White, look at which chapter the information you feel you need is in, and look for the heading in bold. Once you arrive at that heading, you may read a page or two and find all of the information you could possibly need on the topic that you need it on. I feel that both of the guides also offered some things that could be considered subjective, rather than objective. The “Usage” section of Williams’s book was very much his opinion in some places, as these things can be mutable, and should not be presented as hard fact. Language changes. In Strunk and White, their last section, “An Approach to Style” seems to be rather subjective as well, with their own opinions on how things should be done thrown in. At least in Strunk and White though, they seem to be acknowledging that this is just their opinions, and not a concrete “this is the only way to do it” section, unlike the rest of the book, which is very much that. Overall, I think in terms of basic rules of grammar and usage, these books are very similar and offer a good general guide to style for the average or advanced writer.

Revising with Williams

The Original Sentences: “The safety and security of our students, staff, administrators, faculty, contractors and visitors is extremely important to Eastern Michigan University. Threats, acts of aggression and threatening or violent behavior are not tolerated by or toward students, staff administrators, faculty, contractors or visitors. All reports of incidents will be taken seriously and will be dealt with appropriately.”

My Revision:”The safety and security of everyone attending or in our employ is important to Eastern Michigan University. Acts of aggression and threatening or violent behavior are not tolerated by or toward anyone at Eastern Michigan University. All reports of incidents will be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.”

I found this in the catalog, under Undergraduate Policies and Information, so I figured it was fair game. I chose this set of sentences because it just seemed to go on forever. It had excessively used words to describe the various people that could hurt or be hurt by each other, and it chose not to consolidate some verbs that were redundant, all in an effort to make the rules sound more complex than they actually are (to cover themselves legally, most likely). I chose to edit this because I found this selection to be very turgid, even compared to other possible choices (of which there were many). The repetition of the types of people at Eastern Michigan University in the second sentence was not needed, even if the first sentence stayed the same, as we already know the kinds of people in the school by then. While reading, I also found that the excessive listing to detract from what the writer intended to communicate, and I felt like some meaning was lost through their use of technical jargon. Williams could see this as a sin against clarity, as the audience may lack an understanding of this complex language, and fail to grasp their point. This would make writing the rule at all pointless.

Strunk & White, First Impressions

As I read through the Strunk and White style guide, one of the first rules jumped out at me right off the bat. Rule number five, “Do not join independent clauses with a comma” (Strunk & White, 5). This rule in particular stood out to be because it was the number one question I always had about writing: When do I use the semi-colon? Essentially, they said in the rule that if there are multiple clauses and one is preceded by an adverb, you should use a semi-colon. Also, if two grammatically complete clauses are supposed to join in a compound sentence, but are not joined by a conjunction, you should use a semi-colon. It makes me extremely happy to finally know this, as I’ve wondered about it since I was first starting to seriously write. Thanks to Strunk & White, now I know how to use this, and I found out that I was actually using commas appropriately, which is something I worried about. The rule that I found the least helpful, and perhaps a bit more of the opinion of the writers than an actual concrete rule, was rule number fifteen. Rule fifteen talks about using positive terms instead of negative, and I feel that, as a writer, I should be allowed to put things in a negative form, especially if I really feel negative about it. They showed an example of someone writing about The Taming of the Shrew, with one negative and one positive writing. The positive example changed the author’s meaning and intent entirely, making it sound more like he disliked Shakespeare’s portrayal of women instead of disliking the characters in the play. This, to me, made me think that this was just something they liked to see in writing that they read, rather than what really makes a good essay.

Peer Review Part 2!

Well, I got a lot fo comments on my paper this time around. Most of them were constructive, though I thought some were a little vague. I did my best to make corrections where I could, and Megan had a lot of areas she thought could be improved upon. While I do appreciate her comments, I do occasionally like to hear something a reader liked. Nick giave me more of this on my paper. He had some comments about what to fix too, and I fixed them. I appreciated hearing the nice things he had to say about my paper too. I still think that Google Docs is an amazing way to do this peer editing and revising. I love all the features!