New Consumer Society (Projects)

Consumer Essay

Assignment: This essay begins with an experiment in social commerce. You will choose items to buy, sell, or exchange on a social commerce website, such as Craigslist, eBay, Swaptree, or Freecycle, and participate in at least one full exchange in which you acquire one new object and give away one old object. Document the exchanges from beginning to end, including photographs of the objects, snapshots of the advertisements, and records of your conversations and interactions with the other consumers. You will write a 1000-word essay, with accompanying visuals, and post it on your group blog (the content should therefore be suitable for a public audience). Your final essay should (1) detail the life-cycle of two objects in their exchanges from consumer to consumer; (2) analyze your relationship with and attachment to each of the objects; and (3) contextualize your consumer experience in terms of one of the critical readings we have discussed in class.

Student Examples:

“The Best in Life is Less” by William Woolery

Excerpt: “Music is an integral part of my life. The real worth of my acquired object is probably most meaningful only to me, another French horn player, or a general classical music lover. On eBay, I found and purchased a CD of Mozart’s Four Horn Concertos, featuring French horn player, Barry Tuckwell. It was not very expensive, but to me represented an extraordinary find. I consider it of great cultural value and a real pleasure to listen to Tuckwell’s amazing harmony and tone. Using the CD as my stress buster, for relaxation during a study break, and to aid in stimulating my imagination is pure enjoyment. It also reminds me of my Grandfather, a professional horn player,  who instilled in me his love of music, shared his secrets of the horn, and gave me the sound advice that music should be an important part of anyone’s life at any age.

“Friendship for Sale”

“From Junk to Treasure”

Photo Essay

Assignment: For this project, you will work with a partner to research a commercial brand and document with photographs its identity in the Georgia Tech and Atlanta community. Begin by conducting research on the brand’s business practices and company philosophy: does it use sustainable materials, where do its profits go, how are goods produced, distributed, and discarded?  Next, follow your chosen brand around the city, interview consumers of that brand, and—with their permission—take photographs of consumers displaying the brand. Finally, you will assemble a photo essay that communicates your perspective on the identity of the brand: what kind of people buy it and why, are the consumers active participants in the construction of brand identity, are they well-informed of the brand’s business practices, what image do the consumers hope to project? You and your partner will offer an oral presentation of your photo essay and the results of your research to the class.


Assignment: In groups, you will design, experience, and promote a TECHshares social network that facilitates sharing in the Georgia Tech community. The success of sharing networks depends upon members’ commitment to share, even when equal reciprocation of goods and services is impossible. Your objective is to create a TECHshares network that appeals not only to the needs, but also to the desires of Georgia Tech students. One of the ways you will create these rhetorical appeals is by creating a smart brand identity for your organization. The TECHshares project will consist of three major components: design, experiment, and promotion. The final artifact will consist of a website and a presentation model. Groups will showcase their TECHshares at a public event at the end of the semester.

Student Examples:

Food for the Forgotten by Nathanael Bates, Andrew Duda, Grant Grimes, and Grant Veve

“We are a Georgia Tech organization dedicated to bettering the community by providing warm meals, social interaction, and smiles to those less fortunate. These people are largely forgotten by today’s society and are often neglected, even ignored, by passers-by. Our goal is to eliminate the separation between the homeless and the general public, and we believe that we can achieve this through the activities of our organization.”


Buzz Bikes

Group Blog

Assignment: As a group, you will create and maintain a blog that follows the readings and themes of this course. Make a calendar and plan for each member to write at least once per week on different days. Each group will determine a specific focus for their blog; for example, you might choose to write upon consumer society in terms of sustainability, debt, poverty, community engagement, or social media. In addition to establishing your theme, you will also need to establish your purpose: does your group hope the blog will serve to enlighten, entertain, or persuade your audience of peers? Expect to work with the same group of people for the entire semester and to earn a single grade for the entire product. There are many resources on blogging. I have made some available to you on Diigo. Be sure to check out ProBlogger’s beginner guide for a thorough introduction to blogging.

Student Examples:

Tech in Collaborative Consumption “One of the biggest shifts that anyone would notice if they were to ‘travel through time’ would be how intense the development of technology has gotten and how it affects the world around us. Technology holds together the society we live in today. Another largely important aspect of the society we inhabit is the economy. We will be combining a specific aspect of the economy, consumption, with technology to create an analytical perspective on how they constantly interrelate to each other and can almost not exist alone.”

Buzz in Media



Assignment: One of the ways we learn to write and become critical thinkers is through dialogue with other individuals whose experiences and perspectives vary widely from our own. Our class size is generously limited in order to facilitate this interaction and therefore you are expected to maintain an active presence in every class period. As such, your participation will be evaluated on the following key components: attendance, preparedness, and overall engagement with the course. Unannounced quizzes will be one method of measuring your overall engagement with the course.

Woven Portfolio

Assignment: The end-of-semester portfolio is designed as a culminating, representative, and reflective, sample of your work. In order to demonstrate that you have met the stated course goals, you will select evidence from the text you have produced in this course (called artifacts); then you will describe how each artifact demonstrates your ability to apply the concepts and skills taught in this course. Your portfolio will contain:

Mode Artifact(submitted as separate files) Reflection(complete the form)
Oral No electronic copy of the Oralpresentation is required
  • the ways your presentation addresses a specific listening audience
  • the strategic use of the voice, body, space, and technology
Written first draftif pertinent, additional draftsfinal draft
  • the differences between the first and final drafts
  • the ways the artifact uses more than alphabetic text to convey its message
  • successful composition strategies that might work well in other rhetorical situations
Visual first draftif pertinent, additional draftsfinal draft
  • the differences between the first and final drafts
  • the ways the artifact uses more than alphabetic text to convey its message
  • successful composition strategies that might work well in other rhetorical situations
Electronic first draftif pertinent, additional draftsfinal draft
  • the differences between the first and final drafts
  • the ways the artifact uses more than alphabetic text to convey its message
  • successful composition strategies that might work well in other rhetorical situations

NOTE: Retain copies of all drafts of your work in this course.

As described in the “English1101or1102.CompetencyPortfolio.Summer2009.docx” file, the entire portfolio–artifacts and reflection–will be used for program assessment. However, since I have already graded your artifacts, I will only evaluate your reflection. This assignment counts as 10% of your course grade.


Due Date Project Weight
Ongoing Group Blog 10%
Sep 24 Consumer Essay 20%
Nov 5 Photo Essay 20%
Dec 10 TECHshares 30%
Dec 15 WOVEN Portfolio 10%
Ongoing & Unannounced Participation & Quizzes 10%

All assignments listed above, such as the Group Blog or Photo Essay, will be assigned a single letter grade: A+, A, B, C, D, or F. Final grades will be calculated and averaged according to the number equivalencies provided below. (Please note that while you can earn an A+ on an assignment, you cannot earn an A+ for the class, according to Georgia Tech grading guidelines.)

Letter Points Range
A+ 10 10
A 9 8.5-9.9
B 8 7.5-8.49
C 7 6.5-7.49
D 6 5.5-6.49
F 0 0-5.49

For example, consider that the student Rosa Parks receives the following letter grades on each of her assignments. This table illustrates how her final grade will be calculated.

Project SAMPLE Grade Points * Weight Cumulative Total
Group Blog (10%) B 8*.10 .8
Consumer Essay (20%) C 7*.20 1.4
Photo Essay  (20%) A 9*.20 1.8
TECHshares (30%) B 7*.30 2.1
WOVEN Portfolio (10%) A 9*.10 .9
Participation (10%) B 8*.10 .8
SAMPLE FINAL GRADE B (7.5-8.49) 7.8

The cumulative total is 7.8, which falls between the range of (7.5-8.49) to result in a final grade of a B for the student.


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