assignment 3
analytical essay one:
theory meets practice


the assignment

Write an five-to-seven-page, double-spaced, essay in which you do a detailed analysis of one Web site, which answers the three questions that appear below. You may find citations from the McGonigal book that can help support the points you are making.

In analyzing how the site speaks to these large questions, however, be sure to talk about specifics of the site and page design. How do details of the actual practice of Web design---screen layout, colors, use of images, use of links--enact these larger social issues?

Making theory meet practice means seeing the various elements of Web pages not just as things on the screen, but as social practices, norms, logics, functions.


three questions

question 1: the body vs. virtuality

* Where and how does this site refer to (or invoke a sense of) the body, bodily existence, bodily identity (age, gender, race, class, physical or economic "place" in the world), a connection to nature, the concerns of bodily or economic beings and the material commodities they need?

question 2: traditional vs. virtual community/identity

* Where and how does this site invoke and "normalize" a particular sense of community, social identity(ies), affiliation, belonging, social interaction (actual, virtual, simulated or implied), "public space" , democracy, subcultures, traditional roles and authorities, etc.?

question 3: information vs. experience

* Where and how does this site present its content not just as static, neutral "information" (lists, paragraphs), but as an experience, a "knowledge space", a game, a metaphorical space or world, an imaginative "performance" , a value-added gateway to the "metatext" or "docuverse" of the Web?


1. Begin your essay by introducing your topic and stating a "thesis"--that is, one conclusion that synthesizes your thinking about the significance of the Web site as an example of the phenomenon of the Web, Web design and digital culture. You might want to include in your introductory paragraph a key quote from Jane McGonigal you will depend on especially in the essay, and perhaps even a provocative quotation to hook the reader. Do not mention the assignment or the three questions. (Suggestion: rewrite this introduction after you finish the body of the essay.)

2. Explore the questions without repeating them or making reference to the assignment. Make it sound as if you thought up the issues yourself, and that discussing them is a natural outgrowth of your informed reaction to the Web site. Be sure to quote and cite at least two writers. One writer can be Jane McGonigal. It may be especially valuable is to choose two writers whose ideas constitute a kind of debate or disagreement about digital culture (and, so, about the Web site you're analyzing).

3. End the essay by briefly recalling the thesis or conclusion you presented in the introduction and adding something extra (a "kicker"), perhaps an example, detail, quotation or observation that's interesting, funny, or thought provoking which you didn't include in the essay so far, but which suggestions a further implication of your analysis, or that illustrates or crystallizes your overall point.


quotations, citations and documentation

Be very scrupulous about putting quotes around other writers' words and crediting the quotations with in-text citations. Failing to do so, even accidentally or ignorantly, is plagiarism, and is grounds for failure of the paper and the class. If you paraphrase an author, be sure to use your own words and sentence structures.

Cite the authors and page numbers parenthetically in the text--at the end of the sentence where the quotation appears--and document the source in a "Works Cited" page at the end of the essay using MLA format.