Conventions And Language, Audience And Intent Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Computers, Science, Computer Science, History, Journal, Public Relations, Audience, Literature

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/01

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In his scholarly journal article appearing in ‘Communications of the ACM – Trusted Insights for Computer’s Leading Professionals,’ Thomas Haigh challenges the comments of Stanford University’s Emeritus Computer Programming Professor, Dr. Donald Knuth. Haigh reports that Professor Knuth, renowned computer scientist, had bemoaned what he feels has been the “dumbing down” of Computer Science history – finding it so personally upsetting, that his displeasure drove him to the point of tears (40). Haigh addresses his article to an audience primarily comprised of computer professionals. Others in Haigh’s audience are serious-minded academics and students. Haigh explains the reason why he disagrees with Dr. Knuth. This paper is designed to posit a rhetorical analysis, which explores how effective the journal and article are at achieving their purposes. Thomas Haigh’s written work entitled “The Tears of Donald Knuth” was published in 2015. The journal, Communications of the ACM, mainly articulates commercial business interests about computing, and Haigh’s article is only effective because he points out distinctions excusing why more technical emphasis is not largely covered in computer literature today.
Before delving into an analysis of Haigh’s article, an analysis of the journal is apropos. The purpose of Communications of the ACM, is to attempt to be a reliable source for news insights in the computing world. The journal is more geared towards computing-science business (and not academia). The journal retains a global network of members, and keeps them abreast of key cutting-edge technology. Their global membership comprises approximately 100,000 members, and publishes monthly. The prestigious publication has been operational fifty years, and fosters both online and print versions of its journal. People who write for the journal are professional science and technology writers. They must direct their submissions to the departments dealing with the type of articles they compose. For example, some of those areas include: (a) Letters to the Editor, (b) Technical Perspective, (c) Research Highlights, (d) Contributive Articles, and more. The target audience for the journal are computing professionals and respected leadership in the IT industry world. As such, they comprise the decision-makers in engineering, public policy, and marketing trends. The journal’s audience is expected to know where the direction of IT arts and sciences are headed in business practices, and applications. Many readers may be familiar with Dr. Knuth’s general sphere of complaints, but it appears Haigh must make the context for it.
Haigh cites from eleven references, paraphrasing the ideas with in-text numerations. To best understand his approach in the article, several key elements are discussed. Haigh includes: (1) Brief overview of the author, (2) Content and purpose of text, (3) Conventions and language, (4) Audience and intent, and (5) Evidence in the argument which demonstrates the veracity or credibility of the author. Also, included in the discussion is what I believe it takes to be published in the journal. So who is Thomas Haigh, the writer who wrote ‘The Tears of Donald Knuth’? Haigh is an Associate Professor, of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He has presided as a past Chairman of “the SIGCIS group for historians of computing” (44). Obviously, then his background qualifies him to respond to the Professor’s concerns. Dr. Knuth’s is worried that there is a lack of sufficient technical computer-science content in history articles, and academic papers, on computing.

The content of Haigh’s article begins with an explanation of why he is writing it. Afterwards, he reviews how Computer Science and computing has been covered by historians over the years. Haigh also deems it worthwhile to include the fact that Professor Knuth mentioned his displeasure in connection with the journal publication at a “lecture at Stanford University and spent the whole time talking about us. Its title, ‘Let’s Not Dumb down the History of Computer Science’,” had somewhat been received as a personal attack, at least aimed indirectly at the writer (40). The content of the article has several sections. A roster of its subtitles reflects: (a) What Knuth Said, (b) Computing vs. Computer Science, (c) Historical Careers in Computer Science, (d) Prospects within the History of Science, (e) Prospects within Computer Science, and (f) Reopening the Black Box. Haigh’s method of argument is a straightforward and well-laid plan. He responds to Dr. Knuth’s perception in a respectful and academically professional way.
Haigh’s argument demonstrates an oneness of purpose with the text itself. Never does Haigh veer into less-than-polite, or casual banter. Haigh’s verbiage remains erudite and professional throughout the discussion. The content systematically approaches a refutation to Donald Knuth’s viewpoint. Dr. Knuth feels that historical treatises on Computer Science are ‘sadly’ not technical enough. He believes they do not focus upon the rigors of the engineering elements, by advancing the fundamental functions of hardcore science. Haigh establishes his basis for evaluation systematically. He points out initially in the argument, that historians of Computer Science are basically historians first and foremost. Haigh draws a logical concept of convincing his readers (primarily consisting of professionals) that “Computing is much bigger than Computer Science, and so the history of computing is much bigger than the history of Computer Science” (42). In setting the tone at the onset of his journal article, Haigh seems to appeal to the logical and rational side of Professor Knuth, utilizing a respectful attitude throughout the piece. Clearly aware that Dr. Knuth was so upset to the point of publicly shedding unhidden tears over the situation, Haigh devised a literary strategy that adopts a method for achieving his purpose and convincing his audience that perhaps Knuth’s point of view had been cluttered by an inconsideration of all the facts.

Haigh achieves his purpose, furthermore, beyond his initial efforts to explain that historians are historians first by delving into other elements of his argument. At this point in the development of his rhetorical pronouncements, Haigh highly leverages notions of ‘Conventions and Language’ aspects. The community of professional computer scientists and engineers are by training, extremely focused. They tend to be diligent individuals. They are constantly try to stay abreast of research developments both in the technical aspects of their craft. The community is also concerned about social implications and policy developments, which impact upon our globalized society. For example, to support this claim, researchers Hoonlor et al., in their journal article entitled ‘Trends in Computer Science Research,’ insist that “Computer Science is an expanding research field driven by emerging application domains and improving hardware and software that eliminate old bottlenecks even as they create new challenges and opportunities for CS research” (74). In other words, Haigh uses logic to make his claim. He expresses to Dr. Knuth that Computer Science history (a recounting of it) consists of more than in-house jargon of descriptions of complex schematic circuitry patterns, which policy-makers – or even workers in the field of IT don’t fully comprehend.
The convention of professional language, towards the audience of Computer Science insiders, remains consistent throughout Haigh’s argument. One thing which compels the reader to tune an open ear to receive Haigh’s plea, talks about the realities of Computer Science careers. Haigh states that “at heart” he is a “social historian of science and technology” and that “academic careers,” in the real-world are “profoundly shaped by the disciplinary communities in which they develop” (42). In other words, quite simply, you have to go where the jobs are. You have to follow the money trail of real-life possibilities, even when – or perhaps, in spite of – the highly technically driven Computer Science career one may be part of. The intent to convince his readers of his position, as it contrasts to Dr. Knuth’s, sharply appeals to his audience because Haigh uses a familiar high-level professional language with them. The discourse sits within the community. Haigh formulates logical and rational patterns for the basis of packaging his format, in the discussion. This technique reflects both efficiency and effectiveness in explaining his evidence.
In further elaborating, Haigh continues to rely upon a thorough analysis of how academia correlates to the situation. Haigh argues that “Someone whose primary training is in history will naturally see the history of computing differently from someone whose disciplinary loyalty is to computer science,” and each will explore the sub-topics for myriad reasons, or audiences (42). Also, Haigh lays out the bottom line in his discourse by highlighting the factor that “There are no faculty jobs earmarked for scholars with doctoral training in the history of computing, still less in the history of computer science” (42). In other words, Haigh is not downgrading the need or value of a technical coloration in histories of Computer Science, but is rather emphasizing the importance that quite frankly people need to eat. There is a narrow, narrow audience who would even understand and engineering basis for a ‘technicalized’ history of Computer Science. As Haigh’s argument triumphantly fizzles into an explanation of this truth, he mentions Knuth by name and informs that the job market reality is the main reason for less-technical explicative articles on Computer Science history. The beauty of Haigh’s argument is that he never disagrees with Knuth on a philosophical level. At the end of his article, Haigh states that “the history of computer science retains an important place” within the field, but he also hopes Knuth would not become so emotionally upset to the point of shedding tears over the situation (44). The evidence, peppered throughout his article, demonstrates Haigh’s ability to provide a cogent basis for his argument. So, what do I believe it would take to become a published writer in this particular journal, ‘Communications of the ACM’?
In conclusion, first of all one would necessarily have a very good command of the English language in terms of written skills in communication. This quality coupled with an understanding and passion for the scientifics, and research developments in the computer world, would certainly help one to become a published author in this journal. A college degree, and high standing in the academic or professional community would also assist one desirous of being published in this particular journal. Most of all, an honest passion and persistent dedication to keep trying to submit represents a critical key. Most writers do not get accepted on the first attempt, for various reasons. So, skill, education, training, and an experienced high-interest (collectively) in the correlated field equips someone with the wherewithal of what it takes to be published in Communications of the ACM.

Works Cited

“Donald Ervin Knuth.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2013): 1. MAS Ultra
- School Edition. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Haigh, Thomas. “The Tears of Donald Knuth.” Communicators of the ACM 58.1 (2015): 40-44.
Business Source Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
Hoonlor, Apirak, Boleslaw K. Szymanki, and Mohammed J. Zaki. “Trends in Computer Science
Research.” Communications of the ACM – Trusted Insights for Computer’s Leading
Professionals 56.10 (2013): 74-83. Business Source Complete. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
“Strategies for Mastering the Rhetorical Analysis Essay.” A+ College
Ready – A National Math and Science Initiative Program, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

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