Personal Narrative

This essay has been changed a bit in the last couple revisions mainly structurally. The essay was originally just listed what happened with me talking about how stupid I was, then going in to what I was thinking for a little while, before me ending saying that my actions were stupid. I have changed this around, going more into what I was thinking in each scenario. I also gave some of the reasons I may have subconsciously made these decisions before I went into each scenario. I also tried to narrow down the thought process that I had for each of the incidents, and go a little more in depth with each scenario as well.

The Trials of Ryan Jackson

What the hell was I thinking. The absurd thought that I could get away with this so many times. For the first month after the last incident occurred, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The choice that I made, decision after decision, to put myself in those positions. And then to decide to be a complete idiot after that. I have played the scenarios in my head over and over. And then over and over a couple more times, basically just tormenting myself with thoughts of what would’ve and could’ve happened if I had just not been so stupid. What if I had just acted a little sooner, or just done something else? But no, I did not make that decision. Any of the times.

Drinking alcohol is something that I started doing only about a year ago, about halfway through my senior year of high school. Since then, I have become accustomed to getting drunk every once in a while, never needing alcohol, but generally enjoying having a drink here and there. I am not a “seasoned drinker” but I have been around alcohol for my entire life, my parents sometimes having wine at dinner or a beer at a barbecue. This, in addition to my trip last summer, made me feel like I was not only a seasoned drinker, but a legal one.

Last summer I went to Europe with my dad to several different countries. We went to the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain. There the culture was so different, and the drinking age was so much lower. Even if you were younger than the drinking age, as long as you were not being disruptive, people wouldn’t question you about it. I learned what people in Europe thought was correct drinking, not using alcohol purely to get drunk, but to just go along with life, as long as it was used safely. I began to get a feel for how to drink, learning my limit, and never being rude or disruptive.

I thought this newfound knowledge of how to drink was great, and would be perfect for college. Regardless of how my drinking habits may have fit in perfectly in Europe though, the rules on underage consumption are still much different in the United States. Unfortunately, this thought did not make much of an impact on my drinking in college. The fact that I was safe and not incredibly disruptive, was unfortunately not enough to get the Department of Public Safety officers and RA’s to nullify the fact that I was drinking in the dorms.

The first time that I was caught with alcohol in the dorms, myself and some of my friends from my hall were coming in from a night out. We had gone to a pretty bad party or two, and throughout the night got a nalgene bottle full of vodka. When we ended up back at the dorms we still had the bottle with only a couple shots of terrible vodka left in it. We walked back, pretty drunk but not hammered, into the hallway of third butler. This is where myself and a couple of the people in the group live, and we saw a couple other guys goofing around in the hall, also pretty drunk. We ended up standing next to the stairwell in our hall, being pretty noisy. Then the kid that we ran into asked us what was in the nalgene bottle. We let him try it out, and within 15 seconds the kid next to me was yelling “If you don’t chug the entire thing, then you’re a ‘breed of cat’.” This all happened to be occurring outside of a stairwell where a Department of Public Safety officer happened to be patrolling. Somehow, this managed to catch his attention. He also managed to walk down the stairs and exit the stairwell and place himself less than three feet behind me, without me noticing. Coincidentally, almost as soon as he did that, I noticed that the kid trying out the nalgene bottle was actually chugging it. My response to this was yelling out, “Holy crap, I can’t believe that you’re actually chugging that! That’s the nastiest vodka that I’ve ever had!” This did not fool the DPS officer into thinking that we were simply drinking water in loud tones in the hallway late at night. When he busted us, everyone went silent. The kid with the nalgene tried to say that it only contained water, only to have the officer tell us to dump it out, and then wrote us up.

After this first incident, I was not that worried. Other kids in the hall had already gotten into much more trouble, and besides, I thought, what are the chances that it’s going to happen again.
The second incident was, believe it or not, even more boneheaded than the first. This one occurred when going to a pre-game at Oxford. We were simply drinking a couple of beers in the room, and then someone opened the door and went out into the hall. I decided to go out with a beer in my hand and simply hold it behind my back. I forgot to close the door, which allowed anyone to see bottles in the middle of the room. I saw some kids walking down from the end of the hall and decided to say hi to them when they walked by. “Hi, we’re the RA’s on duty” they answered. “And what’s that behind your back?”

After this second incident, I was pretty angry. It had only been a couple weeks since my last incident, and I couldn’t believe that it had happened again, and almost entirely because of me being an idiot. After a couple of days though, I had talked it over with some kids in my hall, and according to them, it seemed like it wasn’t going to be too bad that I got caught a couple of times. I hadn’t gotten in almost any trouble before and I was still very safe. I decided that I would keep going out. I hadn’t talked to anyone other than my RA and a couple of kids that made it sound like nothing really happens even after two offenses, so I just assumed that it would be pretty tough to get in a lot of trouble for drinking in the dorms, even if it possibly happened again. I somewhat jokingly told my friends that if I somehow got caught a third time, then I would stop drinking.

The third incident was unintelligent as well, as I had already gotten caught drinking in the dorms twice, so you would think that I would’ve learned my lesson. “But no” I said to myself. “I heard that the third time is when you need to start watching out for getting in trouble.” So I decided to keep drinking in the dorms. And less than a week after the second incident, I got caught again. This time wasn’t as bad as the other two, as I figured that I had learned my lesson about drinking in the halls, so why not do it in the dorm room? No one can explicitly see it. This was the friday before halloween, so we were just going to drink in the dorms for a little while then go to a party. We kept procrastinating to go out though, saying “one more and I’ll be good”. This went on until about 1am, and by then we were bumping loud music and there were beer cans everywhere. Then we heard a knock on the door, and the kid next to the door went over to look at it. “Crap, it’s DPS!” He said before rushing over to try and hide the beer cans. I didn’t wait. “Fudge it” I said, thinking that maybe he just wanted us to turn the volume down. Like who would suspect that loud base at 1am on a friday night would mean drinking in the room. I went and opened the door. “Looks like you guys have been drinking in here” he said.

After this, I was put on housing probation. I completely stopped drinking, and got somewhat depressed, just wondering how I could be on housing probation when it wasn’t even November. I didn’t even drink a year ago, and now I am on probation from housing for drinking.
The thought keeps running through my head, almost as an excuse to why I made some of the decisions that I did. Maybe I assumed or had some wild thought that I would change the culture of college and the United States in general if I just stayed safe and non-disruptive. Of course this thought is irrational and essentially just an excuse that I was making. On the other hand, this is what people say when they talk about why the drinking law is 21, to keep us safer. People say that it is not safe, as drunk driving fatalities are lower when the legal age is 18 compared to 21. I stay safe when I drink though, I don’t drink and drive, I know my limit, and I help people out. So I guess I had the confidence that if I were to ever get caught that I could just explain that this is why it’s okay for me to drink underage. Unfortunately my assumptions about this were wrong when I talked to the DPS officers and my hall directors. I am still happy with my decision to be safe, although I should’ve taken into account the fact that I was also doing an illegal activity.

The reason that I got caught so many times wasn’t because of what I was thinking, but also because of what I wasn’t thinking about. I didn’t think about consequences. I didn’t think about the odds of getting caught. I didn’t think about what really happens when you get multiple strikes against you. Why? Because I thought that I was invincible. I had gone through high school without a strike against me. Granted, I only started drinking my senior year, but I was so cocky for some reason. I was a safe drinker, and to me that was all that mattered. That me and no one around me would get hurt. But getting in trouble didn’t worry me. Heck, if I got in trouble with the cops I could probably talk my way out of it, right. That’s what I did in high school. I was so far ahead of most of the people in my classes, that if I got in trouble, I could just make some smart ass comment or stupid joke and they would simply go back to teaching. This is not how it is anymore though.

I think one of the things that I assumed about becoming independent and in college is that one aspect that you would leave behind would be getting in trouble at school. Because you were leaving this somewhat forced environment of K-12 schooling, where everyone has to go and everyone has to behave, that once you get out of there, once you get into the college life where you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars a year on education, they might slack off a little on minor things. Now, drinking is obviously not a minor thing, but that’s not what occurred to me at the time of any of these incidents. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing an illegal activity, and doing it on school grounds. Drinking seems like such a normal part of college, and it is so played up by the media, that it seems strange to not drink at college. But it is still illegal, no matter how much the media plays it up. But this never went through my mind as I drank on school grounds.

I still have yet to figure out exactly why I would make these decisions. I have narrowed it down to that I was very overconfident, and not thinking completely about the consequences. The fact that I thought that I may be able to talk my way out of it was a definite oversight, one that I took from my previous experiences in high school. I unfortunately did not take into consideration that I was doing an illegal activity on school property. Maybe this was because I was thinking about the fact that it is legal once you are 18 in Europe, a society that I felt worked right. This does not transfer over to the United States, as much as I wanted it too. Here, I was cocky and stupid about hiding my alcohol, as well as a little unlucky. I don’t feel that the school was unfair, or that I made a horrible decision. I was stupid , and I regret that, but I would much rather be safe and stupid than sneaky and dead. I am not happy about being on probation, but the school did what they had to do.

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Study Abroad Website Proposal

Study Abroad Website Proposal

When I first wrote this letter, it was mainly me just going through and explaining every detail of the site in the most boring way possible. In this revised addition, while I am still going through and talking about boring aspects of the site, I am not going through every detail on each page, but trying to go for parts that I think definitely need improving. The revision also includes many more ideas on how to make the site better than earlier versions, which were mainly focused on simply bashing the site.

Dear University of Michigan Regents,

I have recently been looking into spending a semester outside the country and have been checking out the resources that U of M has to offer. While primarily doing my research online, I felt that it was very difficult to find valuable information on studying abroad. The website was not very informative, sending me to pages that had been taken down, and constantly repeating the same instructions, telling me to go to the “Ready, Set, Go Global!” seminars held every weekday from 5pm to 6pm in the modern languages building. While I am aware that I need to go to this seminar and meet in person, I wish that the website and online resources were a little more helpful. By making it more attractive and easy to use, I think that you could greatly increase the amount of students going to study abroad. To help with this effort, I propose a couple of different actions.

My first proposal is to improve the aesthetics of the site. The home page, and every other page on the site, is about as bland and boring as can be. With only a small strip of color at the top with a tiny picture of people riding camels near the pyramids and what looks like an advertisement for the CGIS’ pamphlet/magazine, the page is almost completely white. It feels like I am reading a boring essay about a website, written by someone who put minimal effort in and procrastinated on it. If you want to make studying abroad and going to other countries feel fun and exciting, make the website like that. Put in color! Interactive widgets! Pictures of places that aren’t 99% sand! Have people posting about their experiences in other countries, putting photos of their adventures outside the borders of the United States. Use larger fonts, have the theme as a maze and blue background with “Go Blue!” written in different languages. Organize the website in something other than just a plain rectangle with words in the middle. Almost anything could be more colorful than the current website.

Take a look at the University Housing website. That is a great website with obviously much more work and effort put into it. There are lots of colors, but nothing is too bright or dark. The pictures are vibrant as well, with lots of color and emotion, compared to a zoomed out look of three people riding animals in a desert. The website is very interactive, as scrolling over anything with information can cause something to happen. For instance, when your cursor scrolls over the “Menus” button on the quicklinks toolbar, the button changes to yellow and the words “What’s for Dinner?” comes up. Although this may not seem like a big deal, small effects like this can cause someone to click on the button if they have even a slight interest. In contrast, on the CGIS website, there is barely anything interactive, and you have to work to get to another page.

The next part of the CGIS website that is in dire need of attention is the content of the website. The current homepage is about as meaningless as possible, other than a toolbar going to different pages for either students, faculty, partners, parents, or friends. This is nice, but for now I want to check out the homepage and see if I can get any immediate information. The first heading on the page gives a deadline for the GIEU, without explaining what the GIEU is, but says the sites for next summer are available. The deadline for this has also already passed. The next section is a survey about the website. Good idea, as user feedback is very helpful. But who wants to do a survey first thing on the site? Off to the side there is a toolbar with a section talking about how if you are interested in CGIS you should go to the “Ready, Set, Go Global!” information seminar. This is good, but I want to get a general idea of what the opportunities are in the program, just so I can have a point of reference when I go to the seminar. The rest of the homepage is similar in either feeling like it is pointless or to being too difficult to find. The main bulk of the page is about a photo contest for CGIS 2012, but unfortunately there are no photos there. Then, at the very bottom, after listing where CGIS is and when it was established, there are programs. Small, in plain blue font, and simply listed out in a sentence, there are links to programs that you can go to. I then checked out the student page, which was a similar layout to the homepage. Same theme and graphics, although instead of a picture of people in the desert on camels in the toolbar, there is what looks like a faded picture of a group in some other country. The first section of the page then lists more deadlines, two of which are GIEU deadlines, winter MGAP applications and then MGAP spring/summer and MGAP fall and winter applications. The only ones not past due are the spring/summer applications and the applications for next fall. Under that, the next two sections and the toolbar on the side talk about going to “Ready, Set, Go Global”. Next, there is a section on financial aid. Then, finally after scrolling down, there is information on the programs. Here there are four sections with links above them, each with a short paragraph on the specific experience. The information here is good, though. When I click on the links to these pages though, nothing new shows up. The same paragraph is copied word-for-word into the next page, except there is a picture of some other random destination on the page. Some have specifications underneath the identical paragraphs, with information such as eligibility or cost. These, unfortunately, are not consistent on each page. For instance, cost is only listed for the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates, eligibility is only listed for Spring/Summer Language Study, and nothing extra is listed for the Michigan Global Academic Programs. I was able to find a little bit more information about these after scrolling the page looking for information or links hidden somewhere. Finally I came across links to the home pages of each of these experiences down on the side toolbar.

To really give the best information, you need to have it easy to find and upfront. There is also no need to have repeating information, especially if it is actually copied word for word. The content on the site needs to be both interesting and informative. Get students to want to study abroad. Go into detail about specific experiences, such as the food in France or the sights in Shanghai. Have people who participated in these programs write reviews or video interviews on their experience abroad. Put videos up, highlighting the cultures and wonderful experiences that students have abroad, both academically and socially. Show students how studying abroad can help students in the future, going over how students can go overseas for a semester, yet not be behind when they come back. Make a simple multi-step process that people can look to to help them see what they need to do to study abroad. For instance, have a numbered list, such as “1. Go to Ready Set… Go Global! 2. Meet with a CGIS counselor 3. …” If you make these improvements to the content of the website, making it simpler and more interesting and direct, the study abroad program will be much more attractive to many students.

The study abroad website is not friendly to people simply looking to quickly look up some information on an activity that they are considering taking part in. The ugliness of the site, as well as the fact that it is not easy to use or find information, is turning tons of students away from an opportunity that could potentially change their lives. If you make this website even just a little bit better, maybe just a couple of extra pictures here and there, and a little bit of color added into each page. Just a couple more paragraphs and specifications on each experience. If you make these changes, I would bet that many more students would start showing up to the “Ready, Set, Go Global” seminars, as well as actually take part in these experiences. It is not a difficult, time consuming, or costly endeavor. You simply need a little extra content, which I’m sure you can find. For programming, you can even get a student to volunteer, giving them the opportunity to work on a university web page, which would look great for a resume. If you do these things and make the website more accessible to students, it will aid everyone on campus. It will be a life changing experience for many studying abroad on their own, really taking on the world! They will truly become the well rounded individuals that this university seeks every year. And it will be fantastic for the university as a whole, as students will be paying for these experiences abroad, bringing in even more money to the university, and giving the university an even better reputation all over the world! This website, although it may seem insignificant, could be the difference between a fantastic leader and a good follower. Between the best in the business, and a pretty good worker. Because the world awaits, and nowadays to get to it, you go through the world wide web.

Ryan Jackson

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College vs Professional Football Persuasive Essay

When I first wrote this essay, I made the argument very generic, asking simply which game I thought was better. I also did not come to a full conclusion, but instead simply said that they were both good. Throughout my revisions, I have worked on improving both the aspect of narrowing down the question, and coming to a full conclusion on which game I thought was more exciting. I also added more examples and facts, trying to add to the logic and credibility of the essay.

NFL vs College Football

Ryan Jackson

There has always been a small debate between fans of collegiate and professional football. I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, growing up a giant University of Michigan football fan, and always staying uninterested in Michigan’s professional football franchise, the Detroit Lions. Football at U of M was always exciting, mainly because the team would generally roll over competition and end up playing in very competitive games against the best of the best in the college game. The Lions, on the other hand, were only exciting when people were watching to see if they could become the first team to have a winless season, which they achieved in 2008. I think that it was mainly because of this, that throughout my life, I have preferred the college game over the professional game. The college game is so much more exciting to me than the professional game, with a constant rotation of players, huge upsets, and the high pressure race for the national title. During my first couple months in the dorms at U of M though, it has become apparent that my views are not shared by all. Many of my friends throughout my hall, especially the ones who are from outside of the state of Michigan, have completely opposite feelings about the two games. However, I still stand by my long belief that the collegiate game of football is more exciting to watch than the professional game.

The collegiate football game is something that thrills me every time I watch it. Any team, regardless how big of a school or how impressive of a football program that they have, could win. This is something that I think is fantastic. The fact that a small school in the country with a low budget on athletics could beat a powerhouse football program with a longstanding tradition, in the middle of a city built on football, is amazing. The incredible performance of the players on the underdog team on the big stage is not only thrilling to watch, but inspiring as well.

Seeing small unknown football programs rise up and consistantly challenge national football forces is another exciting aspect of the college game. Football programs from schools such as Boise State, Texas Christian, and Utah have challenged and beaten giant football programs such as Wisconsin and Alabama in national bowl games. The coaching of these small programs, along with recruiting of national talent, is impressive to see. It also gives you a good feeling to know that the program came up from almost nothing to becoming one of the best teams in the nation.

You may be wondering how the pro game differs from the college game in this aspect. Although programs may not have come out of nowhere, there are still major turnarounds that occur in the professional game. Take the Lions for instance, a team that only four years ago lost every single game, is now making it to the playoffs and considered a challenging opponent. The San Francisco 49ers, who in 2010 had only 6 wins to 10 losses, completely turned themselves around and in 2011 were not only a playoff team, but expected by many to win the super bowl.

In terms of individual games not having an overwhelming underdog and favorite, one can look at the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers on October 7, 2012. The Green Bay Packers won the super bowl in 2010 and are still considered one of the best teams in football. The Colts on the other hand were one of the worst teams in NFL history last year, going 2 – 14. The Packers also had a veteran team led by an elite quarterback in Aaron Rogers. The Colts, on the other hand, were rebuilding with new talent, led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. The game was a close shootout, and in the end was won by an impressive drive by the Colts, ending with a game winning field-goal. The emotion and excitement by the players on the Colts was impressive, and the excitement on the young quarterback’s face along with the poise that he showed was an impressive experience to witness all on its own.

The players in the NFL though, although some may be unexperienced rookies or long timers with not much playing time, can all be expected to perform. They get paid large sums of money, and are there because they are the best of the best. Even though it is fun to watch these players play to near perfection on the field, it is one of the reasons that I feel professional football is less exciting. Because everyone is so good and so perfected, it makes upsets in the NFL a little bit less impressive. If everyone in the league has shown that they are amazing players, then you can assume them to be somewhat on the same level as each other. The best players in the NFL are the best from college, who are the best from high school, who are the best from peewee. So while the level of the game may be increased, with this amount of talent in the game, the level of surprise goes down when there is an upset. It’s kind of like watching an olympic sprinting event occur every week for 20 weeks out of the year, every year. It can occasionally get a little boring, as the underdogs winning may be less impressive if you can easily see that many of them are about the same skill level.

The college game really differs in the aspect of players ability, as there are so many more players and teams that statistically it is unreasonable to assume that a lesser known school in the middle of the country such as Utah State could have the same caliber players as a school such as Wisconsin. Yet, the game that was played between the two schools on September 15 at Wisconsin was closely contested, and Wisconsin only won by two points, with a missed game winning field goal by Utah State.

How a game that could be this close between two schools that seem like they differ so much in talent is amazing, and watching a possible goliath go down, only to win with a missed game winning field goal, is an ending that you will almost never see in the professional game.

The main difference I find between the excitement of collegiate and professional football though is the caliber of a loss to a team. In professional football, a loss is bad and could hurt you down the line, but even having only three or four losses is still considered a good season, and the team will almost definitely make the playoffs. In the collegiate system on the other hand, a loss for a program shooting for the national title can greatly impact the chances of making it to the title game, and two losses can almost guarantee that you will get knocked out. If one of those losses is to an underdog opponent, the team can essentially kiss the title hopes goodbye. Just look at Notre Dame this year, a team that if they had lost would not have a shot at the title. Yet they handled the pressure, and showed that they are worthy at the national title game coming up in a couple months. The amount of pressure on a college team every single game makes for more exciting games and seasons.

Collegiate football and professional football both have their pros and cons, but overall I think that the college game is much more exciting than the professional game. Both are fantastic and fun to watch and follow, and excitement does appear in both. However, I feel that the way a college team works under pressure, going against highly varying degrees of players, teams and coaches is just a little more exciting than the highly skilled amounts of professional teams. The rotation of new faces into the college game every four years compared to many of the same faces for many years at a time in the pro game only adds to the incredible system that collegiate programs must work with. The pressure from game to game for any team with a legitimate chance at the national title is something that is unmatched between college football and professional football. The fact that a team with a legitimate chance at the title has to do everything that they can to go undefeated is so much pressure, and to see a team be successful in this feat, proving that they are truly the best, is about as exciting as it gets.

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Ten Really Cool Workplaces

For the media for this post, I decided to give a couple links to some websites on cool work environments. The first link is to a site with some of the coolest workplaces out there. In addition to the first link, here is an investing website listing the top places to work for and why you should invest in them. (

The revisions I made for this original DSP were mainly focused on my thoughts about this article changing from when I originally wrote the DSP. When I first wrote this, I thought mainly about the workplace and the cooler and better designed the building felt, the better. This idea has changed for me though, and now my thought is not how innovative the workplace seems, but how comfortable the people are working in it. So, my focus on this piece turned from mostly architectural, to more of a personal piece, focusing more on how the workplace should be somewhere that the bright people working there should be able to relax and have a clear mind while working.

Groupthink Response

Ryan Jackson

In the article “Groupthink”, by Jonah Lehrer, the age-old question of what makes people the most innovative is theorized. After going through sets of different circumstances to get people to become as creative and productive as possible, one idea in the article really stuck out to me. For people to be as productive and innovative as possible, many ideas from a range of viewpoints must be proposed freely. These viewpoints must then be debated in a similar free thinking fashion. People must be able to argue their viewpoints, not only to show all aspects of their idea, but also to open up the ways other people view ideas.

The part of the article that I found truly fascinating though was not the exact circumstances that people are in to become extremely innovative, but the way that people get to these circumstances. The way that the architecture of a building was able to draw people of different backgrounds together was very interesting to me. The idea that architects can design an environment in which people will be forced to meet up is fascinating, and reminds me of the Pixar headquarters in California. There, this strategy has been very successful, helping to create one of the most, if not the most, innovative movie companies ever.

Innovation overall does not happen simply because of building structure, but by the people that are in the buildings. The real key to innovation is getting the right variation of people with certain viewpoints to consistently meet and debate with people with different viewpoints. The places that do this successfully, from the ancient empires to some of the most powerful companies of the modern age, all have that key factor of getting the right mix of people in the right place on a consistent basis.

This key to innovation can be found throughout the most powerful empires in history. These great empires, such as the Roman Empire, were all based at the main hubs of trade routes. At first glance, it may seem that the success of these empires were because of the sheer amounts of money and resources the trade routes were bringing in. But these trade routes also brought in many bright people from different backgrounds. This gave rise to some of the greatest technological advances in history, from the farming techniques developed in Mesopotamia, to the paved and guarded roads in the Roman Empire, to the idea and modern medicine and the laws of physics and mathematics in Baghdad during the Ottoman Empire. The geography of the world drove these people together consistently and created entire cities that acted like incubators. After a while, these places were such large hubs of both resources, innovation, and cultural activity, that they became self sustaining, drawing in many of the most intelligent minds into their intellectually blended societies.

This process has been recognized by some of the most successful individuals of our time. Steve Jobs, for instance, used this incubation technique when designing the headquarters for Pixar. He forced people from completely different departments to go to a centralized area, as said in the article, “Jobs soon realized that it wasn’t enough simply to create an airy atrium; he needed to force people to go there. He began with the mailboxes, which he shifted to the lobby. Then he moved the meeting rooms to the center of the building, followed by the cafeteria, the coffee bar, and the gift shop. Finally, he decided that the atrium should contain the only set of bathrooms in the entire building. (He was later forced to compromise and install a second pair of bathrooms.)” Jobs not only forced people working in different fields and with different mindsets to get together and problem solve, but he got people to come together and share ideas comfortably. By doing this, Jobs created one of the most successful and innovative companies around today.

Though the process of getting people from different viewpoints to swap ideas and debate with each other seems like and easy task. You simply need a way of making these people to get together comfortably. This should be easy, right? So why don’t more companies and universities do this? There are a few possibilities for this. One, you need to get enough people from different backgrounds. These people also need to be willing to communicate well with others and debate without losing their temper. They also need to be able to take in other viewpoints respectively and have enough free thinking to be able to look at problems in a new way. Two, you need a space that is large enough to hold this large amount of people. Three, the space needs to be able to make everyone comfortable. If the space is not initially comfortable for everyone, people must be able to change it around to their liking. For some companies and universities, attaining all of these requirements may be difficult. Many do not have the resources or infrastructure to complete these tasks. For these reasons, innovation in many companies is difficult and uncommon.

There are many companies and universities that do not have these problems with budgets and employees though. For these places to innovate, they need to start trying to make more of an effort to get people to come together and blend ideas. The focus at many places is too much on the individuals and tools. Though both of these are very important in having a successful company or institution, there is not quite enough focus on getting people to communicate their ideas as comfortably as possible.

If you look at some of the most successful and innovative companies of today, you see this exact idea at work. Google, for instance, makes the workplace almost more attractive than home, with tons of free benefits such as food, exercise, and spa, just to name a few. What Google is doing is not only having a building that is comfortable for people to work in, but one that people want to come to. This draws employees together at all times, in very relaxed moods. Googles take on the work environment seems to also be very much based off of MIT’s Building 20. In the article, Lehrer says, “It was designed in an afternoon by a local architecture firm, and construction was quick and cheap. The design featured a wooden frame on top of a concrete slab foundation, with an exterior covered in gray asbestos shingles. (Steel was in short supply.)” The article also states, “scientists in Building 20 felt free to remake their rooms, customizing the structure to fit their needs. Walls were torn down without permission; equipment was stored in the courtyards and bolted to the roof.” The building was the center of so much innovation because of the way that people were able to get their ideas out and communicate them for everyone to see. The reason they were able to do this was because of the relaxed atmosphere that the building provided. There were central meeting areas, so you would likely be running into people every time you traveled through the strangely organized hallways. People would come together, say hi, then possibly mention whatever it was that was on their mind, be it a project they were working on or a sports game the night before. It was feature of getting people to come together in a comfortable and consistent fashion that created so much innovation.

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Why Women Smile Rhetorical Analysis


When doing my revisions of this piece, I had a lot of help from Dave, telling me to keep asking why the the Author Amy Cunningham did what she did. At first I only delved in a little bit, saying that she added things like the monkey smiling to add logic to the essay. But then I began to go deeper and deeper in each of her concepts, learning more and more about what was really going through her mind when she wrote the essay, and mine when I read it.

Rhetorical Analysis

Ryan Jackson

The essay Why Women Smile goes over how the author Amy Cunningham thinks that women have been heavily influenced by society in the way that they show or do not show their emotions.  It goes over how women are still not completely equal, as even though they are supposedly free and equal legally, society still has control over the way that women act. 

The reason that  Cunningham talks about how monkeys use the smile to show that they are passive and not going to cause harm to those around them is to make the connection between two closely related species. This connection uses logic and makes the reader to think about how it may be a biological trait for women to smile, using it as a tool just as monkeys do to show that they are non-threatening. The logic, in this case, creates an understanding for the reader, as the reader understands that a smile is a non-threatening action that is apparently biological. The act of smiling is seen as non-threatening though, because of how it has been perceived by others. This facial expression of smiling has actually gone through an evolutionary history much like any living species, following the rules of survival of the fittest. It has been seen so much as a happy expression, used when someone laughs or hears good news, compared to a negative expression. Because of this, it is widely seen as the stereotypical expression of happiness.

Another reason listed is that during the 1800’s women and African Americans were treated so badly that they needed to show by smiling that they were not dangerous to people who thought that they were superior to them. This brings emotion to the essay, going back to a period where many people were badly mistreated and abused. This is to cause thoughts of slavery and to make the reader think about how the smile has played a role in this horrible part of the nation’s history. The imagery of an African American in the 1800‘s, giving a large smile to the monster that forced the person to be a slave, just to try to keep from getting tortured. This picture brings in thoughts of how the smile may actually be a dark or simply masked emotion. This is done to get the reader to think of a new definition of the smile, taking a deeper, more intense look at what the smile may really be. This is to cause the reader to become even more intrigued as to what the author is saying, as the reader is now asking their own questions, and searching for answers in the essay.

The article also lists how babies make use of the smile, as by giving a certain emotion that someone close to them enjoys, they hope to get a similar emotion back. This reference is made to add both logic and emotion to the essay. The logic comes from again going back to the biology of humans and how it is used, but this time by introducing into people’s minds a cute, smiling baby, that is giving off joyous emotions. This is done to bring thoughts of the smile back to a pure and real emotion. This baby, who doesn’t think of unhappiness, whose only wish is to get this pure happiness and enjoyment back from whoever is around them. This aspect of the smile being a truly happy emotion is used to show the reader that the there are many different kinds of smiles. This is used for many different purposes, some good and pure, while others may still simply be a masked emotion.

Why first person? This essay was written in first person to add credibility, logic, and emotion. The author, who the audience knows is a woman, can add all three of those aspects by describing real-life examples of a why a woman smile’s. The first person aspect allows her to elaborate on each and every issue, giving both outside sources and her own thoughts on what is going on. This gives the reader a feeling of almost knowing the author, like they are actually listening to what the author is saying. This adds credibility and emotion to the essay, as listening to the trials of a real woman and the way that she feels society truly acts on women is both emotional and credible, as well as adding the logic that she knows how women feel. This is also done to increase interest in the essay, as the reader now not only wants their questions answered, but wants to hear the trials of a woman in society today.

Today’s social stereotype of the perfect woman may be a woman smiling. However, the essay states that for much of history, society has actually tried to force women to hide their smiles. For instance, Cunningham says that, “Ironically,  the social  laws  that govern  our smiles  have  completely reversed  themselves  over  the  last  two  thousand  years.  Women  weren’t  always  expected  to  seem  animated  and  responsive;  in  fact,  immoderate laughter was once considered one of the  more conspicuous vices  a woman could  have,  and mirth  was  downright sinful.  Women were  kept  apart,  in some cultures even veiled, so that they couldn’t perpetuate Eve’s seductive, evil  work.” This shows the social pressures that women are forced to obey, but also to show that society’s view on the smile also change, again causing the reader to question what the smile really is, wondering if it is only what society has forced upon us.

As Cunningham talks about society and women about the pressure that is put on women to show their emotions in certain ways, she begins to go over ways that society is changing the way that women are viewed. Towards the end of the article, examples of how new marketing structures from companies such as Nike are showing a strong view of women: “Nike is  running ads that show unsmiling women athletes sweating, reaching, pushing themselves. These women aren’t overly concerned with issues  of rapport; they’re not  being  “nice” girls-they’re working out.” This is done to show the power of society and media, even increasing the question of what is a smile, and how much are emotions affected by society in general. This again increases the reader’s interest into the essay, as the human intrigue kicks in and the search for answers in the essay continues.

I do agree with this essay, as I think that women are very affected by society in the ways that they show their emotions. I do not think, however, that it is something that women, or anyone else who smiles even if they are not extremely happy, should worry about. As shown in the essay, every member of society is constantly affected by those around them. From the ways that people dress, talk, act, eat,  travel, and even sleep, people are always affected by society. Fashion in a society completely affects the way that the majority of the people in that society dress. If something is in, and the majority of people feel that it is a “stylish” look, people may dress that way regardless of how they actually feel about the clothing, only as long as they believe that it pleases the people around them. Look at trends in any area, and you will see that people behave according to their surroundings. Kids in elementary school making farting noises because their friends think that it is funny. People eating and trying different foods because other people tell them that it is good. All of these are ways that people are affected by society to do things that they may not do otherwise.

What I really didn’t like about this article was how the author keeps making it seem like the women in society today are basically forced to smile. Society and media may put pressure on women to be beautiful and in shape, but it does not force women to be smiling. The quote “To limit a woman to one expression is  like editing down an orchestra to  one  instrument.  And  the search  for  more  authentic  means  of expression  isn’t easy  in  a  culture in  which women are still  expected to  be  magnanimous  smilers,  helpmates  in  crisis,  and  curators  of  everybody else’s morale.” makes it seem like women have absolutely no power over their emotions. This is not at all how I see women, and I do not think that it is how most people see women nowadays. Maybe it is just because I live in a very diverse and free thinking society in Ann Arbor. There may be many societies in the United States that see women in a way that they should always be smiling, but in my view, this is not how I believe society treats and views women. The author also makes it seem like not smiling and getting called out for it is a terrible thing. She quotes her friend saying, “A  friend  remembers  being  pulled  aside  by  a  teacher  after  class  and asked,  “What is  wrong,  dear?  You sat there for  the  whole  hour looking so sad!”  “All I could figure, ”  my friend says now,  “is that I wasn’t smiling.  And the fact  that she  felt sorry for  me  for  looking  normal made me feel  horrible.””

If someone asks if you are okay just because you aren’t smiling and your only response is that you feel horrible, maybe you should start smiling more. Maybe you should start finding more legitimate ways of smiling, maybe by looking on the bright side of things more often. For instance, in that situation, instead of just feeling bad about the whole thing, maybe double check that you don’t have a strange skin color or tears rolling down your face that you simply did not notice. If there is nothing incredibly strange or saddening about your appearance, possibly make a joke to yourself about the teacher’s comment, or just shake it off and move on. Parts of this essay makes it seem like women are somewhat powerless, like they are just singled out and controlled by society, when really they are strong and in most cases throughout history, able to stand up and speak for themselves.

A big reason that women may have the stereotype of smiling is because, like a smiling baby, they want an emotion from those around them in return. Most mothers love their children and want to see them happy, and may smile just to try to get a similar response out of their children. Some females may smile because they are genuinely happy. Some may smile because they think that it looks more attractive. Some may smile because it has been said that smiling is good for the health. Others may smile because they think that it is the way women should act, but I feel like that is not the main reason many women smile. I do not think that society tells women what they have to do. I think that Cunningham looks too closely at society, something that is ever changing. She states that society is now changing again, but makes it seem as if it is in a positive direction by saying:

“And  the search  for  more  authentic  means  of expression  isn’t easy  in  a  culture in  which women are still  expected to  be  magnanimous  smilers,  helpmates  in  crisis,  and  curators  of  everybody  else’s morale.  But  change is  already floating  in  the  high winds. We see  a  boon in  assertive  female  comedians who are  proving that Women  can  dish  out smiles, not just wear them. Actress Demi Moore has stated that she doesn’t like to take smiling roles.” 

So is this going to become the new normal for women then? That if ads start changing from smiling beautiful women to serious stand up female comics and unsmiling actresses, that this will give women more power over their emotions, giving them back a power that they lost long ago? What if some women don’t want to change? What if some women want to stay smiling? Are they just social outcasts, just as the author makes it seem a woman who does not constantly smile is, or are they heroes, standing up to society and making a statement.

People must remember that society is not a governing law. There will always be pressures from society, and everyone will view these pressures and society as a whole in different ways. Smiling however, is just an expression. It is up to the person whether they want to show this expression or not. As shown in the article, there are many different kinds of smiles. The question is not whether you should smile because society wants you to or not. It is to ask yourself why you are smiling, and whether you want to smile for that reason.

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The Michigan M

What a sight

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