On Being Specific: Beware of IT and THIS

A student last semester wrote this Purposeful Summary. His name was Wazoo. As you read Wazoo’s comment, see if you can answer this essential question:

What’s He Talking About?

facepalm-captain-picard-300x201

It seems counterintuitive that we buy iphones and use them knowing that there are bugs out there, in which they allow people to spy on you. We do not know how long apple has known about this but we do know they were warned and still decided to not do anything.

Personal Privacy plays a big party in everyone’s life, as well as their cell phones. The majority of cell phones are iphones and to have bugs in which people can spy on you is not acceptable. There is no way a little kid was the first to find this. Apple has known about this and they just have kept it a secret. They hire some of the best hackers in the world to work for them to find bugs. So why did they take so long to react?

Apple is one of the largest companies in the world. so some people might think theres a chance they didnt see the complaint right away or they kept it on to gain information about all of its users. After 2 weeks they finally sent a fix but this took so long because they werent done spying on the innocent people in this world. Apple is all about making profit and this move was one for them to get a better understanding on how to advertise to the world.

In addition to some punctuation errors, Wazoo here is neglecting an ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL aspect of Purposeful Summary: to summarize.

Very likely, because it was resolved more than a year ago, you don’t remember much about Apple’s FaceTime bug. If you happened to read Wazoo’s comment on a website about Apple products, would you have any idea what the article he was summarizing said about these questions?

—Would you know how the “spying” occurs?
—Would you know what program or app was compromised?
—Would you understand that it activated the recipient’s camera and microphone before he answered a FaceTime call?
—Would you understand what Wazoo meant about a kid being the first to “find this”?
—Would you understand the context of the “2 week” delay?

What Wazoo DOES do well here is to shape the news to his own agenda. It’s clear he’s suspicious of Apple’s motives and dubious that their slowness in responding to the crisis was innocent. In other words, his language is Purposeful, but he’s neglected the Summary, largely by using “it” and “this” to stand for material he left out.

Here’s the same summary with SPECIFIC DETAILS to replace IT and THIS.

It seems counterintuitive that we buy iphones and use them knowing that there are bugs in the product that allow people to spy on US. We do not know how long Apple has known about THE FLAW IN FACETIME THAT ACTIVATES THE RECIPIENT’S CAMERA AND MICROPHONE BEFORE SHE ACCEPTS THE CALL, but we do know they were warned and still decided NOT TO FIX THE BUG.

Personal Privacy—ESPECIALLY REGARDING OUR CELL PHONES—plays a big part in ALL OUR LIVES. The majority of cell phones are iPhones, and to have bugs THAT ALLOW CALLERS TO spy on US is not acceptable. IT’S NOT CREDIBLE THAT a little kid was the first to find THIS FLAW IN THE FACETIME APP. Apple has known about THIS THREAT TO OUR PRIVACY and they just kept it a secret. They hire some of the best hackers in the world to work for them to find bugs. So why did they take so long to react?

Apple is one of the largest companies in the world, so some people might think THERE’S a chance they DIDN’T see the TEENAGER’S REPORT THAT HIS PHONE WAS EAVESDROPPING ON HIS FRIEND’S CAMERA AND MICROPHONE right away, or they DELIBERATELY DELAYED FIXING THE BUG to gain information about all of THEIR users. After 2 weeks THE COMPANY finally sent a fix, but THE DELAY DEMONSTRATES they WEREN’T done spying on THEIR INNOCENT AND UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMERS. Apple is all about making PROFITS, and this CALLOUS INVASION OF THEIR USER BASE was A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO GAIN INTELLIGENCE THAT WOULD HELP THEM FURTHER VICTIMIZE THEIR CUSTOMERS WITH TARGETED ADVERTISING.

All right, so I did a little more than just replace IT and THIS. 🙂

But what the ALL CAPS material has in common is that it ADDS SPECIFIC DETAILS that provide readers with the background information they need.

In-Class Task

Leave a brief comment in the Reply field below to let me know if this is an effective demonstration of the value of specific details (or the danger of IT and THIS).

Also, Reply whether this demonstration will prompt you to revisit your own Purposeful Summaries with a better idea how to achieve a Regrade.

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels. www.davidbdale.wordpress.com
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25 Responses to On Being Specific: Beware of IT and THIS

  1. davidbdale says:

    Very clever, BW. I like your critique of the Exercise question. 🙂

    Like

  2. icedcoffeeislife says:

    This example made it clear to see that when we use it or this, that there can be a lot of information that is not included when you use it or this. I will look over my purposeful summary because I mostly used it and this too many times in my assignment.

    Like

  3. mrmba1 says:

    The example given above is a good display of the importance of being specific while writing. It’s good to give the audience enough background information so that they are not guessing as to what you’re writing about and what your argument is.

    Like

  4. rosekyd says:

    After seeing this example on being specific, it’s very important to make sure that the claims being made actually have validation within the writing otherwise it just seems false

    Like

  5. thecommoncase says:

    This is definitely a valuable way to show how “it” should be avoided and that summarizing points clearly is super important. Showing a really bad example and then fixing the bad example is a good way to see the difference summarizing makes.

    Like

  6. justheretopass says:

    This was an effective demonstration of the value of specific details. It will help me limit the use of “It” and “This” in my writing and start writing to share details so the reader isn’t lost when reading my paper.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:

      Adding so many specifics can feel repetitive to writers because they’re already so familiar with the details. It isn’t easy to remember that readers don’t know what we know.

      Like

  7. carsonwentz1186 says:

    This is an effective demonstration because of the extent of examples shown.
    If I find the time where I do not have anything on my plate in regards to other classes, then I most likely will go back and look at previous summaries.

    Like

  8. christianity19 says:

    It is an effective demonstration of the value of specific details in the iPhone topic that we talked about in class. Yes, it may prompt me to go back to my purposeful summaries.

    Like

  9. This is definitely an effective demonstration of the value of specific details. This made me more cognizant of how important it is to make it very clear of what you are talking about in a summary. Otherwise, it’s hardly a summary if it doesn’t reflect the original piece of text accurately.

    Like

  10. imgoingswimming says:

    This is most definitely a good example of how to use specific detail. We see the original paper is giving details that only the writer understands, but the reader is left confused and having to research these things themselves just to understand the paper. This is definitely something I will look for and it may be good to have people proofread before I submit to make sure they understand.

    Like

  11. person345 says:

    This example made it clear that “it and “this” shouldn’t really be used and it demonstrates that the value of details matters when purposefully summarizing a source. This example will definitely make me revise my summaries if need be when writing future purposeful summaries.

    Like

    • davidbdale says:

      I hope I haven’t spent so much time emphasizing summaries that they feel like academic exercises only. They really form the heart of most good research writing: sharing just enough of the details of the original material that your own case is made.

      Like

  12. johnwick66 says:

    I believe that this example is very good in regards to the value of specific details. I’ll likely go back to my purposeful summaries and make the adjustments

    Like

  13. Metro111c says:

    Yes this is an effective demonstration on the valued of specific details. Writing in all caps helps show the reader the details that they should remember.

    Like

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