Cochineal

Genre website proposals

Eli's Proposal

I think that we should make our presentation on teaching people how to present their ideas in an oral presentation. This skill could come in handy in school because of the many oral presentations that arise and also in real life as an engineer or most careers that people pick. If people can’t present their ideas in person then the idea itself is useless. It can make or break any idea and everyone could use some practice when it comes to this skill. The best part is that we will need to give an oral presentation at some point in this class so it could be good practice and training. It is a very practical and useful idea.
Luckily, the Internet is full of random people giving speeches about things so we can get some good examples there and analyze what they did well and what they did badly. This would include such things as TED talks or speeches given at technology conferences. We can also present the idea to the class as an oral presentation and then using ourselves as an example. There is also much writing on how to give good presentations so that would not be hard to find either.

Alexander's Proposal

One of the topic suggestions put forth in class that really interested me was the idea of exploring a TED Talk as a type of genre. It might not be visible at first, but it seems as though a lot of Ted Talks follow a similar scheme to get their ideas across—a scheme typical of a genre.

From what I’ve seen of TED Talks over the years, I’ve found they follow a common series of ideas. First of all, all TED Talks are directed toward a popular audience. The speaker will begin by discussing or demonstrating a basic concept. This might be a demonstration of some new technology or it might be an overview of human exploration of the solar system. The speaker will then discuss the technology or concept in-depth before finally flipping the discussion on its head and revealing why what the speaker has discussed is so important.

This would be an interesting project to undertake, we could really investigate the nuances something that hasn’t been looked into too much. It would take a collective effort of viewing a variety of videos and picking out the similarities between them—I’ve laid out a basic overview, but I’m sure there is more detail we could explore.

We could all take notes on the significant features of a few videos, and then discuss them to get started. From there we could see what direction our work needs to take.

Kari's Proposal

For our project, I think we could consider basing our webpage on how to write a newsletter. It would be very useful to know how to write/edit a newsletter in the professional world, and it could be a great advantage in the hiring process of some business firms. In addition, learning how to write a newsletter can help people more effectively use newsletters by giving them an idea of what kind of information is presented and where to find it.

A newsletter is distributed among a group of people within a workplace, industry, organization, school, etc. It’s a collection of information on the institution’s news, updates, upcoming events, opportunities, contact information, and advice. I think newsletters are a great way to distribute information these days since they are often available digitally as well as in print form, making them more accessible, especially when they can just be emailed to all the members. Print sources seem to be decreasing in popularity because information can be searched online with much less effort than searching through shelves of books. Electronically published newsletters will show up in search results, expanding their potential audience and perhaps gaining recognition for a groundbreaking discovery or a new invention.

There are many newsletters that we can get online to use as examples for our project; for example, the Tennessee Engineer (http://www.engr.utk.edu/tnengr/new_te_pdfs/TE-Fall-2012.pdf) by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Engineering and the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News (http://www.ble-t.org/pr/newsletter/BLET-NovDec12-pgs1-8.pdf) by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Esme's Proposal

Semi-facetiously, I'd like to do a webpage about webpages, but that does put the onus on anybody who actually.. knows how to design webpages. I think it would be interesting to explore video as a medium for information distribution, though admittedly this is also my attempt to find some happy medium for the three proposals already up - TED talks are distributed in video format, which requires a certain amount of editing (audio, video); presumably newsletters may be produced in video format, and oral presentations can obviously be preserved as videos. Besides editing, there are the matters of video hosting, writing for video, and the oral presentation skills necessary for various audiences. Plus I don't have to do a live presentation in that case.

(Reading back, I just noticed that Eli's and Alexander's proposals are already implicitly linked through the example given, though Alexander (you) focused much more on the specifics of the example, rather than the bigger picture. This is neither good nor bad; it's just an observation. I think that specificity could help us in terms of focus, though the wider focus certainly gives us more material to work with and more options.)

Memo

To: Andrew Lucchesi
From: Esme Cribb, Daniel Lee, Alexander Swyst, Eli Hoch, Kari Andresen
Subject: Project Progress Report
Date: February 15, 2013

Our group discussed a variety of ideas in our proposals, including how we might teach high school seniors how to write speeches, TED Talks, newsletters, or sales pitches. To narrow down our options, we considered factors such as the sources available, the kinds of research we would need to do, the practicality and applicability of the information, and how we would present our project to the class.

Our original tentative proposal drew from TED talks, though we had different ideas as to the scope, and whether we would treat the talks as a specific type of communication in and of themselves or as examples of oral presentations in general. The biggest counterargument against the former was that most of the other groups in the class made the same proposal, and some of us didn’t like the idea of sitting through multiple presentations on the same source material. However, the research that such a project entailed appealed to us — most of us felt that watching videos and taking notes would be less monotonous than researching genres such as memos and lab reports. And since most of our group wanted to base the project around some sort of verbal presentation, we concluded to create a web page which informs people on the creation of a professional sales pitch.

We feel that our research will be universally beneficial regardless of one’s specialization (and regardless of which end of the creative process one is on - we stand to gain as much as our readers, in the process). Speaking is a valuable skill in both the professional and social realms; pitching a product (or an idea) successfully not only depends on the quality of what is being pitched, but also on the persuasiveness of the presenter. The idea that words have the power to influence one’s success is not unique to the engineering fields, but has ramifications for multiple (if not most) subjects.

We will be utilizing a variety of sources in our research for this project. At the most basic level, there is a chapter in the class textbook titled “Preparing and Giving Presentations” that may give us a starting point for our project. We also plan on watching advertisements and sales pitches by companies such as Apple and Google in order to study what makes them effective. There is also, of course, the entire Internet to draw from.

In the final project, we will work on making a distinction between presentations given in a workplace and those directed towards a client. It is an important distinction and the differences will be made apparent within our webpage. These two types of presentations are special because they are on a smaller scale than, say, a keynote presentation, a format which we agreed to avoid during the impromptu summit held during class on Thursday.

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