Essay Progress 9/25/18

Erika Bishop

Professor Werry

RWS 100

24 September 2018

Public Thinking

Technology, we all have it, use it, and love it. In the excerpt from the book “Smarter than you think,” Chapter two’s  “Public Thinking” by Clive Thompson, talks about how public thinking on the internet has drastically changed the how and the amount we write which has many major benefits. For example the use of technology has made our thoughts become more clear and cognitive, it improves the way we write because of the audience we are writing for, and it expands our social connections and knowledge. Many people may argue that the internet has made individuals less intelligent but according to Thompson, they are wrong. He makes many interesting and important claims that people may not have thought of before but he also carefully uses rebuttals so that the argument is not one sided or bias. This chapter is also filled with different types of evidence and reasoning as to why his side of the argument is the correct one. It gets the readers thinking about things they might not have ever thought of before reading this.

In this excerpt from Thompson’s book, he argues that the internet has become an outlet for our writing skills and that we are writing more now than we ever have before. This has become a resource for people all over the world and it is so easily accessible that people are writing without even noticing it. He uses a personal anecdote to justify his claim. Thompson also uses an effective strategy of comparing how much we write now versus how much we wrote back in the letter writing days. He did this because it closely relates to the argument and what he is talking about. For example Thompson asked his mother how much she actually wrote in the fantasized letter writing days and her response was “”Oh, never! I sign my name on checks or make lists-that’s about it”” (Thompson 50).  This probably got a lot of readers to realize that we have access to write more now than back in the old days. They also most likely thought about their ancestors and maybe even asked them how much they wrote back then. He also uses statistics about how much we write on the daily. He says “we compose 154 billion e-mails, more than 500 million tweets on Twitter, and over 1 million blog posts and 1.3 million blog comments on WordPress alone” (Thompson 46-47). This shows people the bigger picture about how often and how much we use the internet for writing every single day.

Another one of Thomson’s main claims is that writing things down can improve the quality and clarity of our thoughts. Think about it, if songwriters thought of lyrics in their head and it was clear to them, songwriters would not even exist because they would just know it already without having to write it down. Have you ever written an essay perfectly in one go? This is why we write things down because the thoughts and ideas can become jumbled in our brains if we don’t. Thompson often uses media discourse for hs man claims so that his readers know exactly what is going on throughout the essay. This claim is also backed up by evidence which is an effective way to prove the point trying to me made. He uses a poet to back up this argument to establish credibility for the audience. The famous poet, Cecil Day-Lewis, says “We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand” (Thompson 51). This quote is coming from someone who writes poems for a living and it shows that writing things down plays a huge role in clarifying your mind and is a big part of what writers do for their work.

When it comes to having an audience, your mind works in a way that improves your writing because it knows that someone is going to see your work. Even if the audience is not that large, it still makes a much bigger impact than with no audience at all. This is another one of Thompson’s main claims in the text. Thompson uses many type of evidence to prove how writing things for an audience can improve the way we write. One strategy that he uses is defining the term audience effect. He claims that “[s]ocial scientists call this the “audience effect” [which is] the shift in our performance when we know people are watching” (Thompson 54). Defining this gives people a clear vision of what the term means so that there is no confusion. This is a strong strategy to use because it establishes trustworthiness in the person reading the article. Thompson also uses a few case studies to prove the audience effect is true in most cases. Case studies are useful because it grabs the reader’s attention and gets them wondering what the end result is going to come out to be. For this specific claim he uses many case studies, strategies, and facts. All of this evidence is appropriate and effective in order to get his central argument across. He reveals that “a group of Vanderbilt University professors in 2008 published a study” on three different groups of children (Thompson 55). The first group was instructed to solve a puzzle quietly to themselves, the second group was told to speak into a recording while solving the puzzle, and the third group had an audience of their mother while figuring the puzzle out. The results prove the audience effect because “the ones who were talking to a meaningful audience-Mom-did best of all” (Thompson 55). As you can see, the end result ended up favoring Thompson’s claim which basically proves the readers wrong if they have any disagreements. Another case study that Thompson presents is the  

In conclusion this chapter of Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think does a good job in backing up his overall argument with many different strategies, evidence, and claims.

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