This term I am taking a really interesting course – “COGS 303 – Research Methods in Cognitive Systems” – which is intended as a guide to doing successful research in Cognitive Science. One of our regular assignments will be to write opinion pieces with a strong 400 word limit – a good exercise in clarity and brevity. We chose our topic from a list and must defend it within the word limit. I’ll post my essays to the interwebs so that they can be evaluated in the harshest of battlefields. Here’s the first:
Topic: The advent of the digital age makes public libraries obsolete. (Affirmative)
Current trends in technological and cultural development make it unlikely that public libraries will survive in their traditional format.
Firstly, the book itself is becoming a thing of the past. Although ebook usage has not become widespread as quickly as many anticipated with the advent of the computer, this slow adoption is beginning to accelerate with the recent development of specialized ebook readers which use electronic-paper technology, such as the high-profile Amazon Kindle, which has sold tens of thousands of units. Just as consumers are moving away from hard-copy formats in music and videos, towards electronic files, the same will happen with books once ereader technology reaches the “killer app” level achieved by the iPod for music. With the decline of the physical book will come the necessary decline of the physical library.
Secondly, the internet is creating a culture where information and files are shared freely, negating the need for public institutions to hoard and distribute books. This has already been observed in music and videos – despite their best efforts, recording companies cannot stop the inevitable free sharing of data. The same process is under way with books – Project Gutenberg makes it possible to find almost any popular public domain classic free on-line, while Google Books is doing the same with more obscure selections. Already there is a large collection of commercial books which have been scanned into digital formats and are available for download (a short search found both textbooks for this course).
The internet presents a better way to achieve the goals of libraries than physical libraries themselves – namely free and open access to information and books. Providing free access to the internet would be a more effective way of making media available than building and supporting large buildings filled with unread books. Once this fact becomes apparent to governments, it will become difficult to justify the larger relative cost of running a traditional library. Relative environmental impact is another point in favour or switching to a digital format.
Furthermore, the internet has demonstrated its effectiveness for bringing people together in a social network to share preferences within a given domain. Last.fm is a popular music sharing and discovery resource. These types of sites are popular amongst the current generation, and are a likely candidate to replace the community fostered by traditional libraries.
Altogether, trends indicate that traditional libraries will become obsolete.
Writing 500 Word Essays May be Quite Easy
Even though 500 seems like a large number, it really only translates to about a page of single spaced size 12 font printing. It’s not too difficult to write a single page essay once you know how to go about doing it.
Basically, think of it as writing 5 paragraphs of approximately 100 words each. That’s approximately 6 or 7 sentences depending on how long you make them. Here are the 5 paragraphs for your 500 word essay:
- The introduction. Even though this paragraph comes first, it’s easiest to write it last. That’s because you don’t know what you’re going to write before you write it. Once the body of the essay is completed, you can come back to this step and write the introduction.
- The body will be comprised of 3 paragraphs. The first paragraph will be the first main point you are trying to put across to the reader. Make sure you support this point with facts or with your point of view, depending on what type of essay you’re writing.
- This is the second point of the body. The same rules apply for this point. Make sure you give adequate support.
- And the third and final main point of the body; keep it concise and provide the necessary supporting evidence.
- The conclusion is the final paragraph of the essay. It can also have 100 words, approximately. It should be a summary of the essay. Make sure it’s worded differently than the introduction. It should leave the reader with something to think about.
Your essay should make an impact. It should be memorable, interesting and make them think or change their opinion about something. Before you make your final revision, be sure you have satisfied all the requirements of the assignment. Word count is important, but it’s not the only thing that counts. You usually have to adhere to certain formatting rules as well. Perhaps the font has to be a certain style and size. The header and footer and the side margins should all be according to the assignment as well.
It’s generally accepted to go a few words over but when the essay is fairly short like this one, try not to go under the specified word count. Take full advantage of the 500 words you have the opportunity to use to get your point across.