Research Papers

I have always hated research papers. Always. Throughout high school I bullshitted my way through every research paper I wrote, rarely ever concluding anything worthwhile or unique. Once I even wrote a 15 page research paper in one day and got an A. That’s either an insane skill or my teacher was just oblivious to how little effort I actually put into the assignment. Either way, research papers were, and still are, the enemy.

But you know what they say: keep your enemies close. So, I guess that means I’ll take a stab at a research paper for this experiment (Ha, get it? Stab the enemy?).

But, in all seriousness, for every high school research paper I wrote, I was missing a crucial component: research. Research for a topic, no matter how simple it is, cannot all be collected and analyzed in a day’s time. When I did this, I undoubtedly compiled a couple of worthwhile sources, but definitely did not find multiple perspectives in order to deduce anything significant. So, after my K-12 education plus my short time at college, I have decided that research is indeed important for a research paper. Who would’ve thought?

Research papers usually have a few more consistencies, regardless of topic, such as:

  • An abstract, or a summary of research project
  • An introduction, with a clear purpose
    • Including a thesis statement, usually at the end of the introduction
  • Body paragraphs, with a strong argument, a stronger argument, and a strongest argument, accompanied by in-text citations
    • Including a review of the literature and how it supports the claims
  • A conclusion and/or discussion, with a summary of the arguments and how they connect to deduce a significant claim
  • A call for further research, when there is a need to delve into a topic further
  • A bibliography, to cite the sources used

Looking at aspects other than formatting, research papers often have a professional, formal tone in order to appeal to the norms of academic works. Often, they work off of already existing research and are a stepping stone for research in the future.

The following examples, while differing in topics, all include the components of a research paper stated above, and I plan on using these as templates for my own work:


My research paper for experiment two will focus on the effects of heartbreak on mental and physical health. Many people think of a break up as something that you just have to get over, but, coupled with depression and other health effects, it isn’t as easy as it seems. I hope to call attention to this  phenomenon as a stressor for health, rather than a simple hiccup in one’s personal life. I hope to build on my diary entries from experiment one which tried to highlight this, but lacked the research to back-up my claims in any significant manner.

And, yes. I promise to put more effort into this research paper than the ones I wrote in high school.

Blog 6: Digital Rhetoric

Digital rhetoric has been hard at first to wrap my head around. Obviously digital rhetoric exists everywhere for us. We’re constantly on our phones and laptops going through emails, facebook, working hard… or hardly working. What has been most interesting has been my changed perspective. I realize now that not only is everything manufactured on the internet (given, yes, but I’m not a tech person so give me a break) but it is visually prepared in a way that hopes to maximize appeal, influence, and affect. That is super interesting. Just how any essay is written to have the biggest impact on its audience, any digital media is formed through the aspects we’ve discussed to be as productive in its goal as possible. Online platforms offer literally a blank slate, and so the options are truly only limited, for the most part, by one’s imagination.

In thinking on what I will do to remediate my project, I am keeping in mind that I am by all means limited by many more factors than imagination. I don’t have all the technical skills or know-how to put together what I imagine (and my imagination could think of plenty of options…). I need to choose a mode, as well, that is recognizable to the audience; something that makes sense given the context, for the sake of productivity and effectiveness.

My goal for the remediation will be to give better perspective on the people, opinions, history and current events associated with neighborhood inequalities in New York and specifically Chelsea. This will help my hypothetical audience delve deeper into the lives of those on either side of the boundaries that exist in places like West 16th street. I want to focus on the personal/people aspect of the issues, but I also want to continue on with some of the rhetorical elements of ‘zooming in and out’ and providing a deeper breadth of context and information in order for the reader to then make better sense of the microcosm (in the context of the whole). This being said, I’ll need to incorporate information, like I wrote up there ^^, that will give this rboader context – and I can also do this through the lense of viewing ‘people’ not ‘things.’ Here’s an example, and something I am considering: focusing in on “the players,” which include journalists, politicians, community organizers, residents, and business owners, and more. I can focus in on certain people, or types of people, to create this network of knowledge and information that my audience can feel interpersonally connected to while they learn, so that it may stick with them on a more personal longer-lasting level. I envision doing this through the format of a NYTimes infographic or something of that nature. Here’s a cool example:

My work would be less statistical, but this provides a glance at the type of organizing of content I would want to have. Different perspectives and lenses on the same issue. There are pictures of people, there are interviews and slideshows, there are graphs, there is a ‘series’ involved, which takes the reader through different types of ways in which (for what this serious is concerned with) “Class matters.”

That’s what I’ve thought out so far!! Thanks for reading. 

Website, Documentary, Point and Click, etc…

Last year in my writing 125 class, we looked at “Writing Spaces”. One of the pieces we looked at specifically was a stunning example of digital rhetoric. Welcome to Pine Point (I recommend you go full screen for this one) is an interactive web-based documentary about the people and town of a former mining community in Canada. Essentially, it discusses a very niche topic. However, the interaction of the viewer clicking to carry through the story, as well as the in depth personal profiles and anecdotes, helps to impact a broader audience.

This multimodal piece employs aural, visual, gestural, linguistic, and (of course) spatial methods to provoke the audience. I had to catch myself from saying “reader” there. Because really, you need all the parts to get the entire message. The audience takes on the role of a reader, a listener, a viewer as well as a concerned bystander, a younger person listening to an elder relative, and a fellow nostalgic.

Pine Point
Galleries on Galleries enveloped in tranquil sound

Now, this is a very specific example, and I noticed a lot of other people had more sweeping examples. To be honest, I’m kind of in love with this platform. It takes a while to get through, but that’s probably one of the points the author/designer was getting at–it’s strange to think of a whole town disappearing and only surviving in memory. That being said, does anyone know of any similar interactive web documentaries? I’d love to check them out.

Lets Review The Album Review


Online music reviews are a booming business of digital rhetoric, published for all to see and eagerly digest the opinions they enclose. Some of the time, album reviews are able to shed light on which direction the reader should point their ears toward. But mostly, those reading reviews are not perspective listeners but are just curious fans itching to know what critics had to say about their favorite tunes. But why? This was the case when a renowned music publication, Pitchfork, recently reviewed the new album by an obscure band I happen to like very much, Windhand, a femal-fronted doom metal 5 piece from Virginia.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.30.12 PM

Here is a link to the review and what the writer had to say about it.

Now I wasn’t reading the review to have it sway my decision to listen to it or not, oh no, you see I had already listened to it a dozen or more times.. respectively lol. So if I had already bought and listened to the record, and very much enjoyed the record, why was I here on this website reading this review from some journalist type who’s opinion, while perfectly warranted I’m sure, effected me almost no way at all?

I’m sure I, and other music fans, read reviews in search of some sort of external validation. Music fans read these album reviews  to investigate whether or not others have found the same enjoyment in a record that they as listeners had also found. As a writer and conveyer of digital rhetoric, the music critic has a unique job of having to communicate their opinion while simultaneously being relatable to the reader. Because if relatability is lost, then the readers identification with the critics opinion is lost, which leads to, “well why do I care about what this guy thinks anyways!!!”

But if identification is made, then the critic’s opinion is valid, and he can keep his job writing for whatever publication will have him, Grayson Haver Currin, I’m watching you.

Well did I identify with this critic then? Luckily I didn’t have to work so hard to find the writer relatable since his positive review of the album aligned with mine, thankfully. Perhaps I have decent taste after all.


Digital Rhetoric Through a Lens

I noticed that another blogger already used Humans of NY as an example of digital rhetoric they pay attention to each day, but I couldn’t help but post about HONY as well.

I started following HONY on Facebook a few years ago. I would sometimes go on the page and go through 100s of photos, unable to stop. Some people looked ordinary and had extraordinary photos; some looked fairly unusual and led corporate lifestyles. It taught me a great deal about humanity. You never know how much a person has endured, and you most definitely can’t tell on just a surface level.

The photographer behind the campaign, Brandon Stanton, started it for fun, and then it quickly took off. He must have a gift, because he gets strangers to tell their biggest stories. I ultimately ended up ordering his first book for the coffee table, and it was fun to have some of his photos in book form.

HONY is everywhere, with millions of shares on social networks (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), but if you haven’t looked at any of his work yet, I would highly recommend taking a visit to the Facebook page: HONY

Here’s one of my favorite photos:

A boy tells the story of his experience with school.


UPDATE: Shannon made a comment on my blog about how she has an irrational fear that she would have nothing to say if she were to meet him. I definitely sympathize with that. I’m not sure I’m unique in a way that’s good for a short story…but I think the point of HONY is to prove that everyone has a story, so I’m sure he’s good at prompting the person he’s photographing. I also occasionally wonder how many of the photos he takes land on social media. Does he sift through them at night and then not post some of them because others are more interesting? I kind of hope not, because that takes some of the allure of HONY away.


Seeing October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I felt this form of digital rhetoric fitting. Domestic violence is not a foreign concept to college campuses; Women aged 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence.
This video, produced by the One Love Foundation, explains that not all abusive relationships are easy to identify. Often relationships have a gray area between love and control, and these situations are heightened by alcohol use. In fact, alcohol is one of the top 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Women, men, straight, gay – this video shows that domestic violence and abusive relationships can happen to anyone. The rhetoric in this video is powerful. It identifies with a younger audience because most young people like to go out and drink, or use texting often with their partner, or deal with issues of jealousy. The settings behind the different speakers display similar settings of a college campus, too: a fraternity with people drinking and relaxing on a lawn, a chemistry lab, a library, a swimming pool. This helps the intended audience of young people resonate with the video.
The cuts in the video are executed so that the shift from happy go-lucky relationships to dark, abusive ones is abrupt; No one expects these normal, mildly attractive young people to undergo these emotionally abusive activities. This was purposely done because most people think that these situations could never happen to them – but this video illustrates that relationships and situations can change in seconds, and happen to the most “normal” people – even you.
I hope that this video sparks a change in the disturbing statistics surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses. If anything, it spreads awareness that not all abusive relationships are easy to identify, and that drinking can significantly affect people’s behavior in an extremely negative way.
As you watch, think about your typical Friday night. You get ready, you text your friends, you’re thinking about your significant other or your hopeful-significant other, and you never expect anything go to wrong. You never see the shift coming. But it can, and it has happened to countless young individuals who feel the same way you do now.

Blog 6: Digital Rhetoric (Humans of NY)

To be completely honest, I was and still am a bit unclear as to what exactly constitutes as digital rhetoric. However, from what I can gather, it’s creating an argument or a message using technology and digital media. Here’s hoping this is at least somewhat right, because based off of that assumption I’ve selected what I consider to be a super compelling piece of digital rhetoric: the Instagram account Humans of New York.

While the account itself isn’t rhetoric, it’s the images and captioned stories that make up the account which I find to be both compelling and intriguing. You can find the account complete with dozens of photos and captioned stories hereI think this account and how it provides insight into the human psyche works for a number of reasons. For starters, it greatly utilizes the visual aspect. Even without the caption, each photo tells a story, and all of the pictures are clear, vibrant and captivating. Moving on to what I find to be most compelling, the captions, each captioned picture provides a simple quote from the person being photographed, but that simple quote says so much more than the words written. Whether it be a little girl expressing how she “Wants to be a fairy” so her and her friend can “fly around together,” or an old man’s recounting of his beloved wife who passed away, both the pictures and captions expose the raw emotions of each individual.

I think this account is so captivating and moving because it perfectly depicts the complexity of the human species. It’s clear from both the emotions reflected in the photos and the stories behind the stories being told in each caption, that there is so much more to each of these people than what they’re concretely speaking or presenting to the world. The account itself seems to be making the argument that as humans, we often think we might know someone. We might look at an individual and assume one thing, or we might hear something about them and think something else. However, until you take the time to sit and attempt to have genuine conversation with someone (as the person running the account does), you can’t possibly understand who they are or where they’re coming from. You need to hear their stories, and their stories behind their stories to get a better understanding of how an individual became the person they are. Looking and assuming won’t allow you to uncover their layers, but asking them to tell you something just might.

Sinful Cinema

Everybody’s a critic.

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before, and I am sure that just as many of you criticized one thing at some point in your life. So, if this statement is true, then it would not be too far fetched to assume that just as everybody can be a critic, everything can be criticized in some way. That includes movies; in fact, I would argue that movies are one of the most criticized forms of entertainment out there. People rank how good a movie is based on their own personal preferences and standards, and for those who write movie reviews, they have the power to influence the number of people that see a movie.

One problem with being a movie critic, however, is highlighting specific moments in a movie that an individual would have disliked. Imagine trying to describe a movie scene you hate to a person who does not know what you’re talking about; it would go something along the lines of “Oh yeah, I hate that one scene with the sic-fi effects, where that one guy did that one thing to that other guy, it was so fake.” In other words, its description is incredibly vague and not helpful in the slightest to those who are genuinely interested in hearing your opinion.

That’s the beauty of CinemaSins, a popular youtube channel that utilizes digital rhetoric to highlight regrettable aspects of a movie. While playing specific scenes of a film in the video, they comment on why that moment in particular was “sinful” in their eyes and how it detracts from the overall value of the movie. By using movies as a visual aid to help show exactly what parts were sinful, it not only creates clarity and a stronger connection between the audience and the video creator, but it also creates a community that closer analyzes this form of digital media.


Cinemasins instills into its viewers the ability to observe and point out particular details that may be missed initially. This channel is incredibly compelling due to the fact that exposes how people gloss over details that may be missed due to being captivated by the film’s entertainment value. It reveals how easily captivated society can be when it comes to watching films through creative rhetoric that pokes fun at the film for the errors, not the audience for being unable to perceive them. That is why I enjoy the channel so much: it serves as a guide for the audience members on how to perceive movies beyond the superficial level and truly analyze it as a form of entertainment, a technique that I do not see all too much in the world today.

How Tos & Digital Rhetoric

I have a midterm today on the communication revolutions–from the telegraph to the telephone, radio to the Internet so it seems only fitting that today’s blog post would be on digital rhetoric. As communicative technologies evolve, so does digital rhetoric. The Internet, though we think of it as indistinguishable from digital rhetoric, may also become antiquated like other forms of digital rhetoric. As a communicative technology, though, the Internet has completely changed the way we think about digital rhetoric and has opened the playing field for a variety of examples.

The form of digital rhetoric I’ve been most interested in lately are “How-To” videos by vloggers on YouTube. The one below is a “Working From Home” video, featuring tips on how to stay organized and motivated when you’re in a familiar/comfortable space such as your home.

The majority of the video features Ingrid Nilsen walking through a typical day working from home. She offers insight into how she stays focused–taking naps, keeping unnecessary technology out of reach, and creating to-do lists. The video is quite long at nearly eight minutes, but Ingrid incorporates aural, visual, spatial, linguistic, and gestural modes to keep the viewer engaged. This multimodality is also effective for viewers who prefer to learn visually or orally because, instead of having to choose between the two and missing out on content, Ingrid speaks and shows exactly what she is doing at the same time.

Throughout the video, a pleasant jingle plays while Ingrid is shown cleaning her apartment and typing on her computer. Even while Ingrid explains her day, the music continues. I’ve found that the music makes me stay focused on what she is saying. Though I do not have trouble focusing or doing work at home, I am always interested in hearing how other people organize their time and take small breaks during the day. Many viewers in the comments section state how helpful the video is, and even put out requests for future videos. Thus, the Internet and digital rhetoric have allowed Ingrid to remain in direct contact with her fans.

While it is not present in this video, most vloggers include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of their videos. It can range from “liking” their video or posting a similar DIY on Instagram and tagging their accounts. While I prefer not to actively engage with How-To videos or post content from videos, many viewers actually do, which shows the pervasiveness of digital rhetoric in Ingrid’s videos.

Making such a basic topic appealing and engaging is difficult, and I think that’s what makes how-to videos successful examples of digital rhetoric.


John Oliver

One of my favorite things to catch up on is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight videos. It is an interesting dynamic given that he uses digital rhetoric within his show that is captured BY digital rhetoric.

The majority of the video is of him educating the audience on a particular subject. With occasional images, quotes, and videos to supplement his argument. Each of these things provides important detail, helps to build ethos and pathos, as well as provides a context for the exigence of the topic, and provides important detail.

Besides the use of digital rhetoric in his direct argument, digital rhetoric is involved in filming the entire episode. When filming, the camera person has to be cognizant of the angle to capture John Oliver’s face, how zoomed in the camera should be, etc. These things, no matter how seemingly trivial, impacts how the audience perceives the argument being made, and essentially influences John Oliver’s ethos.

Since there is an audio component to the video, it also plays a factor in building ethos. A huge part of this is tone. Sarcasm is something that is used a lot in the video, which is really important for the audience to pick up on in order to fully understand the argument being made.

All of these things–the use of images, videos, audio, tone, angle of the camera–all add up to persuasive strategy. It is fascinating to see how all these things come together. If the argument John Oliver made were instead on a flat sheet of paper, it would be much less engaging and exciting.