InterChange Transcript
"Good Writing," 1/31/95

To return to the Part Two page, click here.

Wayne Butler:
Let's try to come up with a class definition of "good writing." We're not so interested here in fiction or poetry. Maybe the question should be, what is good academic writing or good analytical writing.

Jesse Ackles:
I guess my definition of good writing would definitely have to include things like proper grammar, use of punctuation marks and capitalization, and spelling. There are of course other factors but these are the ones that get on my nerves the most when people don't know how to use them.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Basically I think good writing is getting your information across to someone without annoying the reader in the process. For example, with essays which seem to bounce around from topic to topic or writing which aint' so good mechanically.

Kathleen Soo Hoo:
In my opinion, good academic writing would have to include correct use of grammar, correct punctuation, and correct spelling. The writing must flow and not be choppy. One important charcteristic would have to be getting the point across in a clear and concise manner. No one likes to read a long paper which could be written in half the length.

Amanda Read:
I would have to say that may standards are not set in stone for good writing. Everyone has a style of writing and I think that it is important to repect that fact. I think that we should all try our hardest and see what we can come up with. After this we should provide each other with constructive criticism and through this we will develope a stronger sense of good writing.

Kevin Tiernan:
Good writing to me means that besides useing proper grammar and punctuation, that you also talk to your adience not just talk for the sake of saying something.

Justin Coopersmith:
I think good writing is very hard to describe. There are so many types of writing. But for good academic writing you should have a intro., conclusion, strong thesis, and many body paragraphs to support the thesis. At least that is what four years of high school taught me. Also, it would be key to check the grammar and vocabulary.

Nicole Cooklin:
Good writing??? I guess in my opinion, it must present itself in a neat, orderly, interesting, and readable fashion to the readers. I, personally, have an auful time with spelling and some grammer, so as long as it makes sense and isn't TERRIBLE, I can handle it!!!

Dana Reichman:
I think the most important thing a writer can do in this context is to state his/her ideas clearly and back them up with strong examples. The rest is important but secondary.

Eric Rosenfeld:
I think the most important aspect of good writing is keeping the audience interested in what you're saying. Don't ramble on too much, and let the paper flow

Jesse Ackles:
as am I

Jaime Ross:
I think good writing depends on the individual. We all have different ideas about what to include ect. Grammer and all that stuff is obviously a big part of it. But I think it should address all the issues and really inform the readers.

Nicole Cooklin:
Of course not!!! :-) I have hever been able to spell. I thank God for spell-check every day!!!

Jaime Ross:
In my paper it would probebly go... lack of choppiness: should flow, orderliness, creative, concise, proper grammer, don't annoy reader, spelling, punctuation. But again the order would probebly change depending on the paper I was writing.

Eric Rosenfeld:
Kelly,
Since you're writing about your own personal experiences, I think using first person would be more appropriate

Kelly Kloustin:
1st person is less formal and 3rd person is more formal,which is more appropriate in this case?

Nicole Cooklin:
I think that being Consise is pretty impeortant, now that I think back to reading a few of those chapters in Virtual Communities!!!

Eric Rosenfeld:
The most important feature in my opinion is being creative, and then making sure that the paper is clear, correct, and concise

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Another thing I'm thinking about good writing is that the paper should keep developing and expanding on its points throughout the essay. Instead of saying your thesis over and over again in each parargraph.

Justin Coopersmith:
I think first person, because you are addressing the class. But I don't know how in depth this paper should be? Can someone help, so I can get started.

Justin Coopersmith:
Supporting ideas and examples to back up your thesis

Eric Rosenfeld:
Dr. Butler,
Do they have to begin with "c"?

Jaime Ross:
I also think that you should not ramble on just to meet a page deadline. In a class I have know we make each of our papers as long as they need to be to get the point accross. This makes for more interesting reading because the papers are not as long.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Sorry about sending the same thing twice.

Dana Reichman:
Well, rheinhold wrote about his experiences in the first person. I think for this paper we have to use the first person because we are talking about personal experiences and opinions about our conferences.

Irfan M. Murtuza:
Another thing I'm thinking about good writing is that the paper should keep developing and expanding on its points throughout the essay. Instead of saying your thesis over and over again in each parargraph.

Jesse Ackles:
I like essays that make the opposing viewpoint look stupid. Not saying it's good technique, I just like 'em.

Paul Fau:
In a final product Jesse, i think the on with the better grade will be the one that follows the most logically, the most interesting and the most creative, rather than one that just is very perfect but has no rationale.

Jesse Ackles:
Paul: I agree but what about the notion that things like spelling, grammar, should be taken for granted, especially with the capabilities of the wordprocessing programs we use today.

Kathleen Soo Hoo:
I agree with Dana. Part of a good paper is the writer's abilty to support his/her thesis with examples and facts. The rest of the aspects just improve the paper but are also important.

Paul Fau:
I think that good writing perhaps should be writing that shows thought processes and explains points in specific details. Puncuation and capitals are I think the least important, especially in a rough draft

Stephen Chim:
Sorry for joining this conference a little bit late. I think a good writing is one that can deliver technical things in a simple way that even the layman to that topic can grasp what the writer want to say.

Kevin Tiernan:
Teachers used to grade almost soley on how it was stated grammatically. Not on what you said or how good your paper actually was. So for those of us who live for the grade would consider this to be a larger factor.

Kathleen Soo Hoo:
For analytical papers, I find it easier to write in the first person. You are mainly addressing personal experinces and opinions so I would think that we should write in first person.

Kelly Kloustin:
As far as choosing between a grammatially correct and dull versus gramatically horrible and exciting, you shouldn't choose, but rather find a middleground. If you have too many grammatical errors, your reader is going to get cranky and start to get distracted from your message, and if you make it too boring you are going to lose their focus as well.

Corey Geer:
I think good writing should include concrete examples to back up the points being made. I hate when writers just ramble on with nothing solid. As far as clear, creative, correct, and concise -- what about intersting? Dull papers, and I'm sure everyone agrees, are boring to read.

Corey Geer:
I think we should get off this first - third person stuff. I think it should be up to the author of their essay to decide what point of view fits best.

Jesse Ackles:
Nicole: did you mean to spell awful wrong? :)

Kevin Tiernan:
I think creatvity is not the same in all of us so for some of us the only way for a five page paper to come out of us is to ramble and repeat previous statments. What can be done about this?

Dana Reichman:
I think good writing is writing that gets the ideas across in the most direct and concise manner. It should flow and keep the reader interested. If it is concise, it usually is more interesting.

Paul Fau:
I would say clear, creative, concise and correct only because I feel that this is the order that makes the most sense. When Kelly says correct, what does she mean? Does she mean correct logic, grammar use of punctuation?

Jesse Ackles:
how about staying on track?

Jesse Ackles:
Paul: in a rough draft, yeah. but what about the final product?

Todd Dubinsky:
Clear and well defined thesis?

Stephen Chim:
Amanda, I agree with what you've mentioned. Preserving one's own unique style of writing and expression is important, though I think there are standards that we can follow as how to express our unique style to the readers.

Dana Reichman:
If this is to be decided democratically I do believe "first person" is the winner!

Dana Reichman:
"Correct" is definately critical in academic writing. You have to get your facts straight. "Clear" and "concise" are the next important. Creativity, while it makes papers more interesting, is least important in academic realms. I do think it is an asset to one's writing, but not as important as the others.

Wayne Butler:
Here's a list of words and phrases I've grabbed from some of your responses. Look at these and let's try to decide what order they might go in to describe "good writing." Feel free also to throw some out or add more as you see fit.

--proper grammar
--don't annoy reader; sense of audience
--correct puntuation
--correct spelling
--lack of choppiness; should flow
--concise
--neatness
--orderliness
--creative
Nicole Cooklin:
I think writing in first person is the way to go in this class. :-)

Kelly Kloustin:
A quick question concerning the assignment itself, ok so we need to bring a draft of it to class AND send it on email?

Jesse Ackles:
I would like to formally propose that we write said papers in first person. (sorry --i don't usually talk like that)

Irfan M. Murtuza:
If it's an essay about an experience I like the idea of going with 1st person because as a reader I feel i can live though the author and understand his experience. But if you're arguing something I don't like the first person because I feel like I'm being nagged or someone's trying to tell me what to think. In the 3rd person you can get your point across in a more indirect and subtle way.

Paul Fau:
Todd in a way this is a research paper but, you also are writing about your own experieces which takes on sort of a narative turn.

Wayne Butler:
Todd asks me if he should write in the first or the third person. Maybe we could hash that out here: what are the differenct effects of the first person (I) and the third person (One) point of views, and which are most appropriate for which kinds of papers?

Jesse Ackles:
as long as we're dragging out this debate on the place of grammar, punctuation, etc. I see it like this:
orderliness
lack of chopiness
pertinence
don't annoy reader
neatness
creativity
and in a separate list belong grammar, punctuation, spelling Because those things should be basically flawless, although not necessarily taken in context with the rest of the paper.

Justin Coopersmith:
Dr. Butler- What's is the conclusion, first or third person?

Jesse Ackles:
in ref. to what Todd says above: and a heck of a lot more difficult (to write an essay like this in 3rd person)?

Kelly Kloustin:
Jesse and Todd,
Good point. How formal does this paper need to be, because I have gotten used to writing in an informal way, via email,irc and this conference.

Kelly Kloustin:
Todd: I'm not saying that I have anywhere near the level of expertise that Rheingold has, I am just saying that this paper is supposed to be about our intial findings about virtual communities, not about our expertise with it,.

Jaime Ross:
I think that being creative should depend on what type of paper you are writing.

Kelly Kloustin:
My definition of good writing is writing that is clear ,conscise, correct and creative

Kelly Kloustin:
Rheingold wrote in 1st person and it still sounded professional...

Paul Fau:
I think that good writing perhaps should be writing that shows thought processes and explains points in specific details. Puncuation and capitals are I think the least important, especially in a rough draft

Paul Fau:
in the list that wayne has set up I propose the following : orderliness
lack of chopiness
concise
don't annoy the reader
creative
grammar
neatness
punctuation
spelling
Paul Fau:
Ithink that writing in the third person is more for research type papers which I am used to using the third person for. For narrative works. I think that the first person should do.

Justin Coopersmith:
Rheingold also told too many of his experiences that put me to sleep.

Jesse Ackles:
I would say clear, creative, correct, and then concise. And it should repeatedly hit the main idea of the paper.

Stephen Chim:
I have something to echo whith Eric's viewpoint--Don't ramble on too much, and let the paper flow. I would say that word economy and the a concise deliver of ideas are vital to a piece of good writing. I hope I can learn more about word economy because I am too wordy sometimes.

Wayne Butler:
*****************
OK GANG, LET US MOVE TO ONE OF THE THREE CONFERENCES ABOUT THE BOOK. BEFORE YOU DO, THOUGH, DO TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES TO READ THE MESSAGES YOU'VE MISSED ON THIS CONFERENCE. ALSO, YOU NEED NOT CONTRIBUTE TO ALL THREE OF THE CONFERENCES ABOUT VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES. PERUSE THEM ALL AND PARTICIPATE IN THE ONE YOU FIND MOST INTERESTING.

*******************
Wayne Butler:
I think I like Paul's revised list much!

Todd Dubinsky:
Kelly: Are you attempting to compare yourself with and published writer?

Wayne Butler:
Kelly,
Yes, it might be best if you upload a draft to mail but then also bring a diskette and hard copy version to class on Thursday. I ask this just in case we have some tech breakdowns. If all is well when we arrive in class on Thursday, we'll go electronic, but I do want to make sure we have something do if the technology crashes on us.

Todd Dubinsky:
I think that it should be left up to the writer. Both should be allowed an accepted. However, it is not that hard to write the essay without using person pronouns. Paul: isn't this sort of a research paper?

Stephen Chim:
Kelly and Wayne: I would list "creative > concise > clear > correct". Also, to me, making a point, a real and meaningful point, is also important. I would place this one right behind creativity.

Todd Dubinsky:
I am waiting for a response from Dr. Butler.

Todd Dubinsky:
Wayne Butler: I was debating whether or not to write my essay in first or third person. I know the obvious would be to write it in first person, but don't you feel it is more professional and correct to write an essay in third.

Wayne Butler:
Kelly brings up a good point, too, about the differences among the types of language and levels of formality when writing on-line and when writing ABOUT on-line communities. I'd like you to make this paper more formal and academic-like than the types of social, informal language you might use on on mail or irc.

Todd Dubinsky:
I agree.

Todd Dubinsky:
I think third person is definately more effective and professional. In this case, it is obvious that first person would be easier to write in. Third person can be done though, and in the long run, I believe it makes for a better paper. I just don't think I have the right to include the word "I" in my paper because I haven't developed any credentials.

Todd Dubinsky:
Good writing, in my opinion, is an essay which doesn't tell the reader what to think. It presents the reader with a certain angle, and allows the reader to develop his thoughts and create his own.

Wayne Butler:
Kevin brings up an interesting point about grades and writing for the teacher. In here, I hope we can develop a vritual community of writers who learn to entertain, inform, and teach one another about cyberspace, the internet, the information superhighway, and so on. So, your audience is not so much me for the grade, but for one another.

Wayne Butler:
My position on first or third person: whatever is appropriate to what you are trmplish. If I were writing project II, I might go with first person if I participated in the group or third person if I just observed.

Wayne Butler:
My goodnes, what a group of grammarians! Although a few of you have mentioned content and focus, most of you have gotten on the grammar bandwagon. Why is grammar so important? Would you rather read a focused and really interesting paper that has a few spelling and grammatical errors or a mechanically perfect paper that's kind of dull?

Wayne Butler:
Kelly,
Have you listed "clear, concise, correct, and creative" in your preferred order of importance? How would everyone else list these features in order of signficance? What else might you add?

To return to the Part Two page, click here.

Contact wbutler@umich
with comments or questions.

Modified: 3/4/95