Field Note 1
Competing in a Flat World is the first business class I have enrolled in throughout the entirety of my schooling. Each week we are assigned a case study with a relevant prompt pertaining to the operating style of the business we are investigating and broader supply chain management principles. I find myself working on these assignments preemptively, reading through the case study before it is assigned and digesting the facts of each business. This proactive approach allows me to give the cases a more thorough read once it is actually assigned, and focus on the critical information pertaining to the prompt. In light of this ongoing pandemic, I find myself working mostly at my desk in my interim home in DC. Instead of allotting time throughout multiple days to revisit and revise my work, I tend to work endlessly throughout one day to accomplish at least a rough draft of my assignment. A combination of genuine enjoyment of the course material and subject matter and a work ethic that requires me to finish what I start whenever I can is what probably causes these long sessions. Sometimes, while I complete these papers, I feel overwhelmed, not just by the mountains of data I am expected to interpret, but also because of the setting in which I choose, or more accurately, am forced to work. The hotel where I am staying is not only dim, dustry, and right near bustling M Street, but also is where I spend the majority of my day before I even begin to start homework. Staying in the same place for so long, and staring into the same screen all day is definitely exhaustive and counterproductive to the quality of my work.
Either way, I tend to approach these assignments, because it is a business presentation, in a formal way. I write grammatically and sequentially, very much like an English paper, but I also include visuals that I would never include in other papers. These visuals include bolded or italicised words, infographics and charts, and occasionally hyperlinks. I believe it is Professor Ernst’s emphatic reminders that the business world is all about “presentation” and “directing attention to what is important” that causes me to include these additions. It also seems, that unlike an English paper or Philosophy paper in which I am expected to be naturally analytical, that in these papers, regardless of correctness, I am expected to be convincing and argumentative. That is not to say that being persuasive in other subjects is not a criteria, but it is more expected and prevalent in these assignments. It is almost like these papers are practice for presentations in a conference room to future executives and bosses where we are trying to convince the company to follow our recommendations for the future.
The feedback on these papers is usually limited, probably because if assignments are completed well professors and teachers in the academic world do not feel required or compelled to offer advice. Still, some one-on-one zoom talks with Professor Ernst did provide insightful remarks that touch on the format and structure of the paper and how by changing some paragraphs around or inserting some data here or there can make the overall argument more convincing.
Field Note 2
Writing thank you cards has never been my strong suit or even my favorite thing, yet last summer after receiving mountains of graduation presents and attending two celebrations of my accomplishment with friends and family, there I was at my kitchen table writing individualized letters of appreciation. It was on the eve of the second graduation party hosted in my backyard and the celebratory mood still loomed over me as I filled out card after card. As I said before, I do not particularly enjoy writing thank you cards; it is something about how forced and at times fake they can come across. However, with the sun shining bright outside, a whole lot of gifts stashed in my room, and a whole summer to look forward to I did not mind setting aside some time to thank the people who not only celebrated me days earlier, but also were crucial contributors to my successfully graduating high school.
My mother told me to sound genuine and sincere in each one. This advice was suspect to me. Not only did it imply that I was expected to portray genuineness even if I didn’t mean it, but it also presupposed that most thank you cards are insincere to begin with. I think both considerations are true, yet I complied. I owed it to my friends and family to put a smile on their face and display appreciation even if it was superficial. I must add that none of my cards were superficial. Instead, it is the act of writing such absolute and jubilant words on a piece of paper that is meant to capture my actual emotions and gratitude that I find fake. Regardless the art of gift giving is contingent on reciprocity and these cards were my cultural duty in a way. If I failed to respond to the kindness of a friend or family member I risked upsetting them and harming our relationship. Pretty silly in my opinion, but it is nevertheless a cultural convention. I would much rather FaceTime, so as to express my emotions both verbally and physically, or express gratitude the next time I saw these people in person, so as to make it more personal.
When writing the cards I found myself using the same words – “so grateful,” “appreciate all you have done for me,” and “thank you so much for…” – and despite my attempts to personalize each message it always came back to the same meaning. I must say, though, that these were much less formal than most other cards, because I would include some inside jokes or stories for each respective recipient of the letter. I also wrote grammatically different for friends compared to family. I would use more contractions and less formal language for close friends and cousins, for example, than when I was writing for an aunt or uncle.
I received texts and calls after shipping these letters out. I guess the art of gift giving is continuous because my friends and family reciprocated my reciprocity almost immediately, it seemed. Nearly every response included a reference to their pride in me, confidence in my future, and a declaration of my abilities. Of course praise is nice, but, quit ironically, I could not help but sense superficiality in these as well.
Field Note 3
Social media is all about perceptions. For all Facebook’s raving about connecting the world and providing a platform for us to share our lives with others, most of the content on Instagram and Facebook is disingenuous, unrealistic, incomplete, or exaggerated. In other words, we do not upload pictures, tweet statements, or post comments and captions that truly capture the essence of who we are. Instead, we propagate a narrative about ourselves, or more accurately, who we want the world to see us as, in order to gain followers, likes, and clout. This deception, and at times, self-detection, does not even escape me. I’ve had an instagram for the past few years but only began posting half way throughout last summer. Part of this hesitation was due to my dislike of the superficiality of social media, but some of it, admittedly, was due to my concern that I would not be able to correctly play the “game of social media.” Still, as the summer came closer to an end, I realized that I would have to start displaying myself, or at least the parts of me that I wanted people to see, before I ventured to campus with thousands of strangers.
When deciding when to post I followed all the tricks in the book. I waited until 7 P.M. for all three of my uploads, the optimal time to post because that is when the most traffic is on Instagram. I also considered what I was going to post. I wanted to be in different and cool places, wearing stylish outfits, surrounded by attractive people, and looking good myself. My final consideration was my captions. I wanted them to be witty, concise, and relevant. When constructing what I was going to write I considered the way others would perceive them. Was it too contrived? Was it unfunny? Did I come off as aggressive, shy, nerdy, etc.? All of it was weighed. I think the stress that comes with these concerns and considerations are an unfortunate feature of social media. Still, they are the convention of this arena and if you do not play the rules of the game you can expect to find yourself losing the “game.”
Field Note 4
Much like any form of writing, my text messages vary depending on my intended audience. iMessages to group chats with friends look very different than those sent to relatives or social superiors (professors, administrators, bosses, etc.). My style of writing a text message to friends typically happens spontaneously, unless I have something heavy to discuss. I find our conversations filled with levity, casualness, and a level of vulnerability that is not often portrayed in my more formal and grammatically proper texts to superiors or my parents. Thanks to the power of technology, I can communicate with anybody over iMessage virtually anywhere there is Internet connection. This certainly affects the mood and tone of my messages, for the real-world happenings I find myself immersed in inevitably affect my attitude when receiving and interpreting a text. Therefore, tones such as sarcasm or other inflections that are easily discernible in person are sometimes lost in translation because of the entirely different settings and attitudes the conversers (me and whoever) are currently experiencing.
There are many conventions for texting, but they mostly vary based on the intended audience; hence my different styles. With friends or casual acquaintances, I find myself using shorthand abbreviations like “lol,” “brb,” or “u” as a stand in for “you.” In addition, I do not follow grammatical rules with my friends. Run on sentences, fragments, no punctuation, and misspelled words are abundant in my text messages with friends. When it comes to my social superiors, however, I find that I do follow these grammatical rules as well as avoid abbreviations. My tone is also much more serious. I do not joke as much out of fear that the inflection or tone of my joke will not translate well. With friends I do not have to worry about that as much.
Field Note 5
Twitter has over 145 million active daily users. I’ve had an account for many years now, and while I do not post my own tweets as often as many other users do, I certainly use the social media app much more often than most as a source of entertainment, news, and learning. On the off chance that I do compose my own tweet, however, I tend to find that my style of writing is much more concise and acontextual than most of my other writing. The parameters and restrictions of Twitter – the limited amount of characters available per post and the ability to directly respond to someone else’s post – forces me to write differently than if I had unlimited space available. Additionally, I try to fill my tweets with wit and comedy, something that is very different from most of my other writings. This is because the culture of social media rewards those who are able to punctually and concisely capture the essence of a certain topic, whether it be a meme, scandal, or sports video, in a funny and entertaining way. The audience on twitter expects wit, and therefore I find myself trying to cater to those tastes. In terms of being acontextual, I find that because my responses to certain videos or tweets are directly linked to the original post, that I can avoid re-explaining everything and stick to just answering questions, proposing my own, or continuing an ongoing conversation with another user. Ultimately, my style of writing conforms to the restrictions that Twitter has on posts, as well as the culture that social media creates.
Field Note 6
Philosophy papers require a lot more specification and verbose writing than most other subjects. When crafting my philosophy papers I find that it helps to be in a room without any distractions. There is a level of concentration that must be maintained when writing philosophical content that is difficult to have when background noise or chit chat is near. In terms of the actual writing style for philosophy papers, I find that my writing is sequential, and builds off of itself in a logical format. This is because there are, for the most parts, many complicated concepts simultaneously at play and so being able to present them in an orderly fashion, drawing upon the parts that are pertinent to the larger argument, and then continuing from there, is the best way to accurately and effectively portray my point.
In many respects, philosophy papers are similar to english papers. Both necessitate an argumentative thesis which is then defended through evidence and interpretive analysis. Additionally, there is never a final or conclusive answer to whatever exigence one is writing about. There is always more to be discuss or new evidence to consider. Therefore, I find that at the end of my philosophy papers I tend to acknowledge the incompleteness or shortcomings of my work, and offer opportunities for others to build upon it or critique it. This may stem from my reading of Fish and his argument that no argument can be final. It may be that knowledge which allows me to be more vulnerable in my own papers and accept or even appreciate that I may not be explaining or revealing the whole truth. Nonetheless, I do think that my philosophy papers follow a different format, a more stringent one, than my other writings, and require more specificity than other papers in other subjects require.