FSEM 142: The Algorithmic Life
Second Writing Assignment

The second major writing assignment for the course is due on Friday, October 4, with a rewrite due the following Friday. The assignment will be graded and will count for 10% of your overall grade in the course.

Your paper should be typed, double-spaced, and about three to four pages in length. It should have a title at the top, in larger type, followed by your name. You should print a copy to turn in and bring the printout to class.

About the Assignment

The second writing assignment is a report. By this I mean that you will do some research and write a paper presenting your findings. The report should be "journalistic." That is, the point is not to discuss your own opinion but to provide information that is objective to the extent possible. If you discuss a controversial topic, you should try to present both sides. This does not mean that you simply present every side as equally valid. If you talk about an opinion that seems to be contradicted by evidence, you can also present that evidence and point out the contradiction.

For this assignment, you will be working with a partner. The model is to imagine that you have come across some information in a newspaper or on the web, and that you want to research it and write an article about some aspect of it. You are working with a colleague who will write his or her own article—hopefully one that will complement your own. In reality, though, I have picked out the seven original sources that the class will work on, along with some search terms that might or might not appear in the articles:

The articles will be handed out at random. Your partner will be the person who gets the same article as you. You should read your assigned article before our September 20 class.

I expect that most, possibly all, of the research that you do for this paper will be done on line. We will get the assignment going with a visit to library on Monday, September 23. Research librarian Michael Hunter will describe some of the resources that are available in the library, and he will lead you through a workshop on using and evaluating on-line sources.

Your paper should include a bibliography, and you should be careful to document your sources. We will spend some time in class discussing what this means and how to do it.