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328.2 Style, Wiki

The second project in ENGL328 this semester asks you to develop a series of wiki entries that will 1) draw on Joseph Williams' Style, other texts we have read this semester, and outside research as you deem necessary; and 2) contribute to a growing collection of articles, summaries, and short essays concerned with writing, style, and technology. The project is set up so that as you work through Williams' Style you will decide upon keywords, concepts, and other article-worthy topics to develop as wiki entries. You will also gain experience with collaborative writing made possible in a wiki platform, and you will for a reflective essay what is stylistically available to wiki writers. You may also focus upon revising, extending, and reorganizing existing wiki entries. That is, at HiHiWiki, you will find existing materials concerned with the ways prose style principles articulated by Williams generalize to the writing we find (or produce) in Twitter, a networked writing platform you are by now exploring as an aspect of this course.

Here are some additional possibilities for wiki enries:

Many wikis, by design, are radically collaborative writing spaces. Wikis redefine authorship, making it possible for multiple writers to contribute to the collective composition of a text. Wikis allow users to make changes, or "edits," to a page, to follow the historical development of a page, and to create new pages. In class, you will receive a MediaWiki Quick Reference handout, which you should use as a guide while you get familiar with our course wiki. You can also refer to the MediaWiki Editing FAQ as needed.

You may work in groups to coordinate your efforts, but you are under no obligation to do so. Because wikis are inherently collaborative writing spaces, your coordination can simply manifest within HihiWiki rather than in class. You might also consider posting to your Twitter stream some of your preliminary ideas and interests and inquiring whether others are interested in working on the same things. Whichever way you decide to procede, you will need to come up with a plan for making progress on this work. That is, over the next three weeks, you should be deliberate about structuring your time on various tasks--research, drafting, revising, editing, and so on. To be successful with this second project, you will engage in these activities frequently (at least every other day), and you should document your efforts so that you can refer concretely in the reflective essay to your process, the writing you did, and the stylistic means available for wiki writing.


Logging In
You can access the wiki at http://www.rheticle.com/wiki/. Because you will be working at this URL regularly over the next three weeks, please consider bookmarking the site. You must log in to edit the wiki. Your username is the same as your myemich alias (alias@emich.edu). The default password is 'emu.' I strongly suggest that you log in, go to My Preferences, and scroll down to Change Password. Then, change your password.

Annotating Changes
As you make changes to the wiki, include with your changes comments explaining what you changed and why. That is, document your changes so that others are aware of the work you have done. This running record will be invaluable to you later in the project, when you write your reflective statement. The annotations will provide you with a detailed record to ground your reflection, whereas without it your work will be far more difficult.

Multiple Simultaneous Edits Conflict
If multiple users are editing a wiki at the same time, certain changes may come into conflict. When this happens, the users will be notified of the conflict. This will only happen when two or more users are simultaneously trying to modify an element on a page.

Points of Emphasis: Synchrony and Roles
Your success with this project depends greatly on two conditions:
Synchrony: You must immerse yourself in the processes of wiki writing and establish, to the extent possible, synchrony among other wiki users. That is, you must pace your work, log into the wiki on a regular basis, and explicitly coordinate your processes with others.
Roles: You must occupy multiple roles, stepping in and out of these roles in the spirit of exploring the work involved and the full dimensions of wiki writing. You will, at times, work as an author, as a coder, as a researcher, as a facilitator, and as an editor. Some of these roles might seem a more natural fit to you than others. But rather than hastily identifying with roles you already know how to do well, the project is set up to reward you for trying out all variety of roles (e.g., If coding seems difficult to you, rather than avoid it, you should use this as an opportunity to learn something about formatting wikitext).

These three weeks are loosely broken into the following four phases, during which particular roles are likely to be more pronounced. This does not assume a neat and tidy bracketing of specific roles to specific periods of time, but it should help you focus your approach to the assignment.

Wed., Feb. 3: Invention (conversation, establishing focuses; Roles: Facilitator)
Mon., Feb. 8: Invention (conversation, establishing focuses; Roles: Facilitator)
Wed., Feb. 10: Drafting and Research (writing, collecting, reading; Roles: Facilitator, Author, Researcher)
Mon., Feb. 15: Drafting and Research (writing, collecting, reading; Roles: Facilitator, Author, Researcher)
Wed., Feb. 17: Edits and Coding (high- and low-order revisions, formatting, adding links and citations; Roles: Facilitator, Author, Researcher, Coder, Editor)
Mon. Feb. 22: Continuing with edits and reflective essay development.
Wed., Feb. 24: Project Two and Reflective Statement Due

It will be difficult to quantify your contributions to the wiki (except where logins are conspiciously infrequent), but you should try to login every other day, add as much as 500-700 words of new text in an entry or in expansions of multiple entries, and occupy in some form or fashion all of the roles mentioned above.

Reflective Essay
You will write a 1000-word reflective essay on the process of wiki writing. The essay should be typed and double-spaced, adhering to MLA guidelines for formatting and, where applicable, citation. The most important aspects of the essay are 1) that it provide an account of your individual process/product, 2) that it explicitly address the matter of what is stylistically available to wiki writers, and 3) that you include a clear statement about how the work should be graded. Upload the essay as a .doc file to the appropriate dropbox in EMU Online no later than the start of class on Wednesday, February 24.

So, the focal questions are

  1. Describe as concretely as possible the work you did?  Which entries did you develop? Why? How many edits did you make?  Did you edit/revise other people's writing? 
  2. What is stylistically available to wiki writers? What is style in the context of wiki writing?
  3. What grade do you deserve for this work? Why?

Here are a few additional issues your reflective piece might address:

Half of Project Two will be self-assessed. That is, your reflective statement will include a section at the end that evaluates your work throughout the project. If your reflective statement is detailed, thorough, and persuasive, it is likely that I will simply agree with you and assign as my own evaluation the same grade you applied. I am looking for the following qualities in your work:

* Evidence of a primary role in the authoring of a wiki entry (400 words or more)
* Evidence of research, either in careful work with Williams' Style or in collecting and presenting outside sources, to include formal citations and links (research; provides links and citations)
* Evidence of the ways you occupied the roles listed above (roles)
* Evidence of facilitating discussion in the "Talk" pages on the wiki (invention; high-order editing)
* Evidence of proofreading (low-order editing)
* Evidence of care with formatting wiki text (coding)
* Frequency of logins indicative of regular contributions in the form of writing and editing (frequency)

My response to your work will attend more directly to the reflective essay you compose (i.e., I will not be annotating the wiki entries as a part of the assessment process). If you find it helpful to do so, you can frame a portion of your reflection using some version of the scale applied to Projects One and Three.


EX: Exceptional. The writer has applied the criterion with distinction.
AC: Acceptable/meets expectations. The writer has applied the criterion to a satisfactory degree.
NI: Needs improvement. The writer has minimally applied the criterion in the project.
NA: Not applied. The writer has not applied the criterion in the project.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Office: 612M Pray-Harrold
Winter 2010 office hours: MW, 10-11 a.m., Tu., 9-Noon, and by appointment
Phone: (315) 708-3940 (cell)


"Neither The Elements of Style nor any other style book can be the definitive text on writing in every genre or media." —ENGL328 student, Fall 2009

"We concentrate on utility at the expense of joie de vivre. And we then wonder, as de Tocqueville prophesied we would, why life has lost its savor" (19). —Richard Lanham, Style: An Anti-textbook

"Let us collectively raise the level of discourse online. What starts as a relentless tide of simple-minded chatter resembles the most perfect wave of literary turbulence under the right conditions" (89). —Dom Sagolla, 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form

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