Friday, May 1, 2009

"The Autumn of the Multitaskers"

We have been discussing the use of syntax, diction, and tone in class. As we have discussed, your research paper should maintain a formal, academic tone that is appropriate for an educated readership. What this means for you is that your paper should avoid contractions, personal pronouns, informal analogies and descriptions, and humor.

That being said, this week's essay is a perfect example of the difference between an academic essay and a popular essay. Popular essays can be found in magazines and often use those very techniques that academic essays avoid: contractions, personal pronouns, informal analogies and descriptions, and humor. As such, popular essays seek to entertain as much as inform. For example, "The Autumn of the Multitaskers" has a clear thesis: multitasking is inefficient and often dangerous. However, rather than just providing clear evidence in the form of logos, ethos, and pathos (which the essay does quite well), the author also provides numerous informal examples to provide levity and humor.

For this week's post, choose a sentence that illustrates this informality and explain how it strengthens or weakens the author's argument.

For example, on page 159 Kirn provides an example from The Starr Report of the investigation into whether or not Bill Clinton committed perjury . This is certainly a humorous example of multitasking, but it doesn't convey the same connotations of danger that his other examples (like the car crash) provide. For me as a reader, this example of Bill Clinton was more of a humorous distraction than it was a useful example.