An Essay Review

So my assignment this week is to review a classmate’s blog. I was paired with Marshall and had the pleasure of reading and reviewing his first essay for our Publishing 101 class.

His essay, “Changing Times: Understanding the Shift from Print Literacy to Digital Literacy”, discusses society’s shift to digital literacy “[since] the advent of the World Wide Web” (Marshall, 2013). He comments on email, literature, and internet banking in order to explain this shift’s impact on the way in which the digital age has infiltrated daily life.

Marshall’s essay is strong and I could probably discuss his ideas all day long, but I’d like to narrow it down a little. I’ll comment on three things that work and another three things that don’t. Hopefully, this will provide a snapshot of the essay’s strengths as well as things that could be improved upon.

Things that Work:

  1. The first thing I thought while reading Marshall’s essay was that he had chosen an interesting and engaging topic. While my own essay was fairly derivative in its definition of publication, Jen ran with his own and came up with different ideas of online publication. To discuss email, banking, and text messages, he makes the essay both academic and relatable for readers of his blog.
  2. Throughout his essay, Marshall makes some good generalizations. I say ‘good’ because he actually backs them up with statistics and logical inferences. For example, he makes connections like “if the median age for doing this is younger, then that means that more people over this age are doing this.” That example is overly simplified, but I think it gets the point across. There are no erroneous generalizations evident in Marshall’s essay.
  3. While Marshall makes some logical generalizations, he is also careful to break down each of his points. While discussing literature and writing, for example, he makes points about books, book stores, news papers, etc.. He points out that these mediums are going through different types of changes even though society tends to lump them into the same category. I think that this technique of Marshall’s shows respect for each genre as its own unique thing. This comes across well in his writing.

Things that don’t work (or could be improved upon):

  1. This is more of a choice than anything else. I don’t think that Jen is wrong to use the passive voice in much of his essay, but I do think that it may take away some of his authority as an essayist. In an essay where he has studied the topic, found sources, and put time into a thoughtful idea, he shouldn’t lose credibility because of the agency in his writing. That’s just my opinion, though.
  2. I’m not sure if Marshall created his essay in a word processor program, but I think that it would help his writing. Little grammatical errors and spelling mistakes can also take away authority, but are easy to fix in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.
  3. Marshall’s essay was very strong, but it would have been more helpful for him to explicitly state how all of his discussion points fit together. What do they mean? Why should we care? A lot of these answers are in his essay already, but I always think that one should assume that the essay reader is dumb and knows nothing about the topic or simple logic.

All-in-all, Marshall’s essay was an engaging read. I highly recommend that you read it and give it the traffic/attention it deserves.

Well done, Marshall.

Thanks for reading,

Kathryn

Work Cited:

Jen, Marshall. “Changing Times: Understanding the Shift from Print Literacy to Digital Literacy.” Marshall Jen. N.p., 19 10 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

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