Reverse engineering is the process of extracting craft knowledge from a human-made artifact. While this activity may be more common in some fields than others, e.g., electronics over furniture, anyone who has ever taken something apart in order to better understand it could be considered a reverse engineer. This assignment asks for you to consider yourself one, too.
According to Electronic Design, reverse engineering can take several forms:
- A product tear-down identifies the product, package, internal boards, and components.
- A system-level analysis examines operations, signal paths, and interconnections.
- A circuit extraction de-layers electronics to the transistor level and then extracts interconnections and components to create schematics.
- A process analysis examines the structure and materials to see how something is manufactured and what it is made of.
For the purpose of this class, you will be conducting process analysis*.
This assignment asks that you begin at the end, that you start with a finished piece of writing and work backward. It is similar to the other “Scholarship” assignments in that it asks you to pay attention to particulars of a piece of written work. While Pop Up and Mashup Scholarship consider audience, grammar and syntax, organization, and source materials, Reverse-Engineered Scholarship focuses on argument, idea development, and the method or process of how we write.
Choose one of the longform articles below or submit one for instructor approval** by 5pm Friday, 10.13.11.
- “Pastoral Romance,” by Brent Cunningham
- “Ty Cobb as Detroit,” by Anna Clark
- “How Google Dominates Us,” by James Gleick
Part 1. (online, due Tuesday, 10.17.11) Upon reading your chosen article, pare it down into the form of a shitty first draft***, eliminating at least 50% of the published article’s content. Post this form to your blog and reflect on your paring choices. In your reflection, consider what’s essential about the article, what ideas or information perhaps came first.
Part 2. (online, due Thursday, 10.19.11) Pare your chosen article down even further into the form of a basic outline. Post or upload both forms to your blog and reflect on your paring choices. The outline and initial curiosity/perplexity involves some educated guesses on your part, forcing you to think more like the original author of your chosen article. In your reflection, consider the author’s interest in the subject matter and how it is similar to or different from your own interest. This is also an opportunity for you to justify your overall reverse-engineering of the article.
*If one of the other forms of reverse engineering is more appealing to you, please contact me for instructor approval.
**Given this assignment’s connection to The Big One, it may behoove you to choose an article about your area of interest.
***If you would like to use your own identified method or process for writing rather than what’s asked in Parts 1 and 2 of this assignment, please contact me for instructor approval.