1a. Select a Topic1b. Develop Research Questions1c. Identify Keywords1d. Find Background Information1e. Refine a Topic
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ENGL 150 - Miller  

Last Updated: Apr 3, 2017 URL: http://libguides.marin.edu/miller150 Print Guide

Essay 3 Print Page

Essay 3: Investigating Technology

Essay 3: Investigating Technology

Most people would agree that digital technology is both exciting and troublesome. We love the convenience of using our cell phones and computers: to connect us, organize us, inform us, guide us, educate us, entertain us, protect us, even inspire us. But we’ve also heard—and most likely experienced — what makes digital technology sometimes a modern curse: its distractions, temptations, and even dangers.

We may be tempted to simply shrug our shoulders and accept or ignore our digital downfalls, clicking and linking and posting our way obtusely forward. But the inimitable philosopher Socrates exhorts us otherwise, reminding us that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” And so even those of us who just loooooove our devices must occasionally ask: are they good for us?

The Question:
For this assignment, you will answer that question, becoming deeply informed about ONE specific issue regarding a specific digital technology. You will research your topic thoroughly in order to understand it and form an educated opinion about it. The overall question is: What is ONE specific digital technology (or use of technology) and is it beneficial?

But that question is just the starting point. Here’s the thing: you must craft your own, much narrower and more specific research question to investigate (see attached page, “Narrowing Your Topic”). You will research a specific issue about ONE SPECIFIC digital technology.


In this era, when most of our news comes from the internet or TV, we have become Jack of all news, master of none. With so little time, even the best-intentioned are rarely deeply informed. But for once, we can change that.

You must use research to:

  1. thoroughly explore topics to find one that is a) INTERESTING to you, about which you would like to learn more, and b) manageable and about which there is plenty of information;
  2. discover facts and opinions you didn’t know, to help you decide your own argument;
  3. define and describe your topic; and
  4. provide substantial evidence to prove your points.

Purpose and Audience:
Your purpose is to elevate our public discourse about this subject and redress the lack of information we have about it, by writing an academic essay for one publication (print or online) of your choosing.

The Essay:
In an essay of 6-8 typed, double-spaced pages (1800-2000 words), I would like you to: 1) introduce the essay topic, including a thesis sentence telling your reader what your argument is; 2) argue reasons to support your thesis, developing a paragraph for each point, including concrete details,
research, and examples to illustrate, and making sure to analyze and explain how these examples illustrate your point; 3) concede and/or refute at least 3 opposing arguments (within your body paragraphs; and 4) draw conclusions about the topic and your essay.

Point Value: 20% of final grade

The Grade:
In this essay, you are required to:

  • Use at least 5 sources, at least 3 of which must come from the CoM library databases (the other 2 may come from the library databases or credible internet sources) to support your arguments.
  • Make in-text citations for any quotations or references you make to other sources, according to MLA guidelines.
  • Include a works cited page according to MLA format.
  • Thoroughly develop paragraphs (using P.I.E.)
  • Use at least 3 adjective clauses, 3 verbal phrases, and 3 concessives—all highlighted.
  • Use ample connecting words: transitions, pointing words, repeated key terms, etc. (see They Say chapter 8), and plenty of metacommentary (see They Say chapter 10).
  • Include at least 3 naysayer arguments (conceding or refuting them).
  • Use at least 3 sentence templates from They Say/I Say .
  • Write in full sentences, using proper grammar and punctuation (i.e. Proofread!).
  • Format your essay according to MLA guidelines.

What To Turn In With Your Final Essay: (Please paper clip all items in this order, top to bottom)

  • Your final draft, with an INTERESTING title and a works cited page at the end
  • Your writing tutor form

Your Purpose and Audience:
Once you have chosen and brainstormed your ideas, identify a CREDIBLE local, state, or national publication (print or online: magazine, newspaper, etc.) that you could submit your essay to. You do not have to submit your essay to that publication (although I encourage you to), but you must imagine you are writing to its audience.

Publications to consider:

  • Marin IJ
  • SF Chronicle
  • LA Times
  • NY Times
  • Policymic.com
  • Mhlearningsolutions.com

You will be writing this essay because you care about this issue, have interesting/original ideas about it, and want to persuade others, or at least get them to consider your subject in a new and deeper way. You are writing to contribute to our ongoing cultural conversation about the impact of digital technology
on our lives.

Your audience is comprised of readers, including me, who are interested in issues of culture. You will argue your ideas in the hopes of gaining readers’ interest, keeping their interest, and getting those readers to think differently about this subject. Remember, your readers are intelligent people, who may already have preconceived notions about your subject. They don’t want to hear what they already know (obvious content), or be asked to summarily accept your views (beware of assumptions). They may even oppose your arguments. In order to continue reading, and accept your essay, they will need to hear solid, original arguments, backed up with specific, interesting evidence and analysis.

To support and develop your ideas, you MUST use your outside research. You may use the assigned readings if applicable. You may also use your own experience and observations. You will need specific examples to illustrate your main ideas, and to “prove” your arguments.

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