Reading Responses


This page includes a reflection on each of the readings I have done and how it is incorporated into the main project on my about page.

Reading Response for “The Secret to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas” and the Haltman Text

John Maguire’s text really helped me understand why it is important to focus on concrete objects instead of ideas. George Orwell’s quote, “When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit. When you think of something abstract, you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning”, really put it all into focus. “Abstractitis” is a term coined by Henry Fowler means multiplication of abstractions, about which he said: “A writer uses abstract words because his thoughts are cloudy; the habit of using them clouds his thoughts still further; he may end by concealing his meaning not only from his readers but also from himself.” I have really suffered from this in my previous writings. I never understood why it was so hard for me to gather my thoughts and not add fluff and mush into my papers. It was because I was focused on an abstract idea or thought and not researching and describing concrete objects which are easily and accurately explained and understood. When one focuses their writing on a concrete object and draws abstract, conceptual, or even metaphysical aspects their writing becomes more clear.

Kenneth Haltman’s text tied into this article because both had similar theses. Both articles focused on using research and asking questions as the foundation of any writing. In the Haltman text, this was called the Prown Analysis. In Maguire’s text, he showed this in his own personal research with students and how he has improved his own students writing. The second key part of each text focused on the importance of description. Maguire highlighted that in order for students to be descriptive they had to get away from abstract ideas and start with something that “they could drop on their foot.” Haltman conveyed a similar message in his text saying that in order to make your writing immaculate one must provide “thick, nuanced vocabulary,” and use your words to create an impression of the material. Haltman’s focus was to be as descriptive as possible with your words and everything after that will follow and your writing will be more precise and well spoken.

I have used the writing of Maguire and Haltman in my own personal writing with my NAMES project AIDS panel on Gil Scott-Heron. Using his panel that is pictured on my primary source descriptions page, I have drawn out abstract conclusions and writing that you cannot see just by looking at his panel. For example, there is a picture of the flag of Africa with a clenched fist in the center. For some, it may just look like a nice decorative picture, but after research and using my readings from John Maguire and Kenneth Haltman that picture alone shows the cultural difference of Gil-Scott, the struggles of racism, oppression, and drug use for African Americans regardless of how successful you appear to be.

To read “The Secret to Good Writing” article click here.

For more details about my take on this article click here.

To read more about the Haltman text click here.

Reading Response for “Forty Years Later, the Golden Record Goes Vinyl” and the Ball Text

The primary source for the second reading response is a text by Ball. This text is about different modes of communication and modality. According to the text “the word multimodal is a mash-up of multiple and mode. A mode is a way of communicating, such as the words we’re using to explain our Ideas in this paragraph or the images we use throughout this book to illustrate various concepts. Multimodal describes how we combine multiple different ways of communicating in everyday life.” I agree with this primary text because it is nothing but factual information that is useful for communicating an idea.
The secondary source is about a golden record that a group created in and launched into space aboard the Voyager in 1977. This record contained information about Earth to anyone who would happen upon it in the cosmos. This information contained photographs, over 60 greetings in human languages, one whale language, and various music. This source goes on to explain how the record was made and the effort and time it took to make it.

The Golden Record Cover via


These texts combine because Ball’s description of communication is shown in Koren’s text in the Golden Record. This record incorporates different forms of communication in order to accurately convey a message to other life forms that are not from Earth. These types of communication mentioned by Ball are linguistic, visual, aural, gestural, and spatial.  The Golden Record incorporates as many of these forms as it could with 70’s technology. Lacking all but gestural communication, The Golden Record uses the linguistic and spatial modes of communication in the title page and menu., a visual mode of communication in photographs of different parts or Earth, and finally several aural modes in the music, speech, and animal sounds. Any single form of these modes would not have gotten the message through, Without pictures. extraterrestrial life would not know what we looked like, without sounds they would not know our languages or how we talked, without writing they would not know what was being said or the meaning behind the information. According to Ball, “Although each mode plays a role in the overall message, 1t is the combination of modes – the multimodality -that creates the full piece of communication.”

This relates to my project as my message I am trying to portray is a multi-modal message. I have been using the five different modes of communication that Ball mentioned throughout my medium(the website) to convey my message. Ball has said that you can effectively give a more precise meaning by using different modes because any singular mode has its strengths and weaknesses. I will be incorporating every mode including gestural when I present my project later in the year. This page alone is just like The Golden Record, it has pictures, a video, words and spatial arrangement.

To view the primary source by Ball click here.

To view the secondary text by Koren click here.

For more information about these two texts and how they compare click here.

For a short 10 minute video on multi-modality click here.