Informatics 101

Fall 2000; First Assignment

Due: Monday, September 4 in the Informatics Office (Sycamore 339) by 5:00

General Comments

This lesson seeks to help you see, among other things, that presentation is integral to information; thus how you present your work will count along with what you present. This holds true for all of your assignments and exams for this course. If you create a bad impression either by carelessness or by pretentiousness it will affect your grade. The purpose of all your formal writing for this course should be to communicate with someone you do not know who does not know anything special about what you have to say. That ignorance would extend to the fact that your paper is a response to a class assignment. Do not assume that your reader knows the assignment. Do not refer to the assignment. Never just answer the question, assuming that your reader knows the question and that what you write is an answer to it. The assignment is a prompt whose purpose is to get you to write an appropriate, complete paper. Write formally, as if to someone you do not know well, but not pretentiously.

Assignment Statement

This assignment has two parts, one in-class and one take-home. You will be graded on both.

In Class: Pick someone from the class who you do not know; agree with them to work together for this assignment. There is no point cheating: you will be graded not on the accuracy of your description but the intelligence of your thinking. Knowing the person will probably hurt you as you may assume something for which you have no evidence.

Put your name and all the usual information (student id number, course name, professor name, date) on a sheet of paper (8 1/2" x 11"); write down, very neatly, at least five to ten things you have noticed about the person and what each tells you about them. Add at least a sentence telling how they all fit together to give you an impression of the person. Format your paper so that the information is clear: Identify the things you noticed, what you learned from each and why, and how they all fit together. Do not make your reader work. Do not allow your reader to misunderstand you.

Here are some ideas of things you might notice. You may notice others. What is important is how you explain what you notice and how you integrate the meaning of the things you notice to get an impression of the person:

When you are done, exchange papers with the other person. You will hand in the papers you exchange in class with your homework.

For next Monday: write at least three pages (properly formatted for a college paper) commenting on what the other person wrote about you. You should note the factual accuracy of the observations, discuss how well they have interpreted what they noticed and how well their impression corresponds to who you are. If they were not very close, try to explain where they went wrong. Alternatively you might find that they got the wrong impression because you sent out misleading signals. Hand in both papers.


You will be graded on your initial in-class paper and your typed essay. Neatness, presentation, grammar, spelling, formatting, content, effort and thought will count. I will read each paper to see if it fulfills the assignment. I will look for a paper that has something to say that is worth reading. The easier it is to read the paper, the more agreeable the experience, the better.

28 August 2000 EWF