4.0169 Halio again; Writing on Macs vs. PCs (2/70)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 12 Jun 90 23:40:23 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0169. Tuesday, 12 Jun 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 04 Jun 90 22:54:59 PDT (39 lines)
Subject: Halio

(2) Date: Sat, 09 Jun 90 15:21:48 EST (31 lines)
Subject: More on IBM vs. Mac for writing

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 04 Jun 90 22:54:59 PDT
Subject: Halio

Since Marcia Halio's article continues to provoke strong reactions, we
need as much information as possible about the conditions under which
her observations were made. Unfortunately, the original article in AC
failed to provide important details. I don't think Marcia realized how
sensitive a nerve her article would strike.

But some of her critics continue to expound views based on the
assumption that Halio's students chose to go into a Mac section or an
IBM section of English comp. That's not correct. In a letter from
March 4, 1990, Marcia wrote me the following:

"Some letters have attacked my article because the students 'freely
chose' either IBMs or Macs. In the survey I did last fall, 75% of the
students said they had not even noticed they were signing up for
computer sections; they simply chose a section of freshman comp because
of the time of the day or some other factor unrelated to computers. So
the students really were a random sample of the population of mid-range
freshmen at our university -- a state-supported school that attracts
neither Ivy Leaguers nor sub-literate dingbats."

She goes on to say: "I am now in the midst of a controlled experiment
with six classes of freshmen English and three classes of junior and
senior business writing. I should be spending the summer working with
five other teachers evaluating the data obtained."

I submit this not out of a desire to defend her thesis but because I
like to see criticism hitting the mark rather than puncturing straw men.

Mike Heim
Cal State Long Beach

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------39----
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 90 15:21:48 EST
Subject: More on IBM vs. Mac for writing

Jim Seymour, a columnist for PC Week, has picked up on the controversy
involving the recent article in Acadmic Computing. He intimates that
there is indeed something to the accusation that writers using the Mac
tend not to write as persuasively as those using DOS machines. He picks
up on the argument from the point of view of the corporate world. He
states: "I thought back over the mail I get, over drafts of corporate
proposals I read. I recalled many conversations with corporate PC
managers about the kinds of people in their companies who ask for Macs
and those who ask for DOS machines. And I have to agree: Despite its
undeniable advantages, the Mac does lull some users into producing
shallow work. Why? My guess is that using a DOS machine forces us to
confront working at the computer in a much more structured and rigorous
way. . . . Even more powerfully, a plain-looking page of PC-produced
text forces us to look at the words and sentences, think about the
ideas. Grammatical mistakes and flimsy arguments stand out more sharply
than on those more handsome pages that roll out of Mac users'
LaserWriters." He wishes to hear from readers regarding their opinions
on the matter. Now the corporate community can sharpen their rhetoric
if not their logic and observation skills, on the issue. As a PC user,
i.e., DOS-user, I am now worried about what Windows 3 is going to do to
my writing talents, sharpened to a razor's edge by years of work with
CP/M and DOS text oriented computers. Only time will tell. Fellow
HUMANISTs will please keep a critical eye on the style and precision of
the occasional pieces I may contribute to this LIST. If decline is
observed, please warn me immediately. Giles R. Hoyt, IUPUI, Indpls IN