To College Division Homepage Writing Online: A Student's Guide to the Internet and World Wide Web
 CROSSLINKS: Chapter 16—Research and Writing Activities

Chapter 16 of Writing Online offers fifteen net-based activities, one each tied to the preceeding chapters. The Crosslinks take you to more activities, as well as to web sites that offered thematic clusters of links for potential research projects.


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Thematic Clusters 
  • The Atlantic Monthly Online Archive  offers several subject indexes where you can search issues by clusters made up of articles that have appeared in the magazine and on the web site. Subjects include the looking ahead to the 21st century, flashbacks, political issues, classic reviews, and recent fiction.
  • Personal Reader provides a clipping service. You can choose areas of interest—politics, education, family, to name a few—and find links to current articles and breaking news.
  • Public Agenda Online offers links to sources on contemporary political issues. The links come in two categories: understanding the issue, which leads to information; and public opinion, which leads to arguments for and against particular sides in an issue. To help you assess the value of sources, the site does a good job of explaining its criteria for link selection. 
  • Policy.com is another news and information source. It offers daily briefing and updates as well as an issues library of links. Another useful resource is their index for browsing organizations by issue. 
  • Arts and Letters Daily is a source for news, reviews, and opinions; it updates daily, Monday–Saturday, and new links are placed on top. The site collects links to hundreds of diverse sources, and the annotations are top notch. 

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Activities from Other HMCO Sites 
The links below lead to web sites for other books published by Houghton Mifflin. They're provided both to make you aware of good ideas and of books I've looked at and like.

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More Ideas 
Online writing tends to be more informal and conversational than printed writing. Use these three different activities for considering the conversational level of online writing.
  1. Defining Conversation Think about all the different kinds of writing you've done in your life: letters, essays, exam questions, to-do lists, outlines, class notes, memos, resumes, journal entries, etc. Now think about who would have read some of those items. Write descriptions of some of the writing situations you recall. What is it like writing a letter to a friend compared to writing an essay for class? Who reads your to-do list? Is a job application letter more like an essay or a note to your best friend? After you've described some of the writing situations you've been in, write about what features of the writing and the situation combined to make the writing seem more or less conversational. Ask yourself: Does converse mean something different than write? Is being a listener the same thing as being a reader?
  2. Finding Conversation  If you are familiar with writing online and are coming to this web site with some experience, you can compare a Usenet group, a MOO visit, and a web site. However, if you are just starting out and don't feel ready to delve too much further, bookmark this page and choose three web sites at random. Make sure you spend some time at each site, looking at the pages, their tone, and whether there are any links to discussions or comments. Write a description of the three sites and describe their degrees of conversationality. Try to find sites that do different things. If you choose three online course catalogues from three different colleges, you may not notice much difference. You can find sites by using a search engine, such as Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com), to browse through categories.
  3. Writing Conversation  Teachers like online writing environments—email, Usenet, and MOO discussions—because they get people to talk about things in writing. However, as you may have perceived, doing that is not the same as simply speaking. Try this experiment. Find a Usenet group with a topic you and your friends are interested in. Get a tape recorder and leave it running during a conversation you have with some friends on that topic. (You should let your friends know you're taping, by the way.) After a while, everyone will forget the tape is running. Take the tape and transcribe a portion of the conversation, writing down what people say, when they're interrupted, and so on. After you've done a bit of transcribing, go to the Usenet discussion and look at the writing presented in the posts. Write a paper (or web page) that compares the Usenet discussion to your taped discussion. Both are called conversations, but both use language in dramatically different ways. What do you suppose accounts for some of the differences you will likely see?

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