tl;dr (why facebook can’t handle the strong response)

Thanks for having me in your class today, gang. My name is Jason and you should call me that. In our 30 minutes together we’re going to try to do 3 things:

  1. Talk briefly about the importance of response for both online culture and for scholars.
  2. Differentiate between “weak” responses (online) and “strong” responses in academic writing.
  3. Practice applying a 3-step process for beginning a strong response.

Serendipitously, on the evening before I drove down here, a friend of mine (who is originally from Central PA) posted the following article on Facebook:

The reporter for this piece, Tom McCarthy, visits various residents and business owners in Bethlehem and Northampton County to ask why voters here moved to the right and help elect Donald Trump.

In internet speak, it’s a classic case of tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) — especially so for a 30-minute lesson — but I want you to think about posting this on your Facebook feed later. I’m kidding of course, but I’m curious what could happen if you did. How would your followers respond? Would they align, perhaps, with some of the 2,500+ responses this story received on The Guardian and their Facebook page? Are these what we’d call “strong responses”?

OK, so if they’re not strong responses, why not? How might we get one? Let’s take a look at this handout to see how:

Let’s see if we can apply Harris’ strategy to a sample text. I chose a very recent one from the Oxford University Press’s blog, written by an sociology professor at Kansas State. It’s provocatively called “The Millennials’ God.”

What are the aims, methods, and materials of this piece? How might those elements help you explain your understanding of this text?

Again, the ultimate goal of this process is to distill these elements into a written summary, which plays a central part in building your strong response. However, as Harris writes: “to respond is to do more than to recite or ventriloquize; we expect a respondent to add something to what is being talked about. The question for an academic writer, then, is how to come up with this something else, to add to what has already been said” (2).

We’ll focus on this aspect for our next lesson.