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Clifford Stoll’s essay: “Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana”

LENGTH: 4 full pages (to the bottom) minimum – 5 pages maximum.
THREE (3) secondary sources are required from the professor-provided research.

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PURPOSE: In his 1995 Newsweek article, “Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana,” Clifford Stoll claims that the Internet will never be a big part of life, and he supports his argument with several “reasons” wherein he explains the struggles the future Internet will have. Using his “reasons” to help structure your ideas, your purpose is to write a synthesis essay in which you use 3-5 professor-provided sources to evaluate several of Stoll’s predictions, explaining how his simple predictions are/aren’t accurate in light of the complex Internet we utilize today.

You will be looking at the issues that current Internet faces in the areas Stoll simply dismisses as “problematic.” You may also want to explore a couple areas Stoll didn’t consider (the ones with an asterisk):

Education Politics
Commerce Publishing (books/magazines)
Human Interaction Cyber Bullying
The Economy Children’s Use
Security (i.e., banking) Addiction (children/teens/adults)*
The News Media The Veracity of Content (Fake News)
Personal Intelligence/Knowledge* Privacy*
Cyber porn ????

Your essay should address several of the above areas concerning the Internet, using both the professor-provided sources and personal experience to explore where Stoll thought the Internet would go vs. the reality of the climate (good and bad) we currently face with the Internet.

To write an effective paper, you must first clearly understand Stoll’s arguments: you are not expressing your opinion so much as demonstrating how Stoll’s predictions have played out since 1995. In other words, you might think of this essay as a way of looking at the Internet areas (listed above) and determining if Stoll had truly perfect insight or if it is actually much more complex than he was saying (hint: he’s both right and wrong in every instance because, as with most things, this topic, too, is more gray than black and white).


  1. Read Several of the Research Articles Posted in Canvas. These articles will form the basis of your essay. Yes. Read first. What you find in the research should guide what conclusions you draw (not the other way around). I don’t want to see you cherry-picking quotes to try and force a personal opinion.
  2. Decide which 3-5 of Stoll’s above areas you want to address (one per body paragraph).
  3. Choose at least 1-2 articles to use per body paragraph. If the articles contradict, that’s fine. Your job is to fully explain the area, not simplify it as a pro or con issue. Jot down personal experiences you could include in your paragraphs.

(1) For each point/paragraph, summarize Stoll’s prediction in the FIRST few sentences of the paragraph. If it’s a prediction he didn’t make (i.e., addiction), then present this as “One area Stoll didn’t consider…..”
(2) After your topic sentence, present your evaluation of where the Internet is currently concerning your point. Include summaries of your articles’ information & key quotations from your articles as well as your own personal experience. If your articles contradict, that’s fine—this actually makes for a more well-rounded paragraph when you paint the full picture of an issue.
(3) Place your weakest body paragraph first and your strongest paragraph last.
(4) Make sure to pay special attention to your thesis and topic sentences.

Citing in MLA Format:

  1. Cite intext at the end of each sentence each time you use a source (Last Name page number)
    Example: The text argues that dark brown colas do the most damage to children’s digestive tracts (Georges 35).
  2. If you summarize several sentences in a row from that source, introduce it at the start of sentence 1 and then cite at the end of the last sentence of the summary.
    Example: Randolph Georges explains the damage sugared beverages can do to children. He argues that merely one sugary beverage a day is enough to start the downhill spiral towards diabetes and childhood obesity. Once children start down this path, they are unlikely to stop since they become addicted to sugar just as quickly as if it were heroin (Georges 35).
    (5) Create a Works Cited Page using the 8th edition of MLA format.

Remember: This assignment isn’t looking for your opinion so much as it is looking for how you can synthesize the research into your body paragraphs as you allow the research to evaluate Stoll’s predictions & where the Internet is presently. The goal is less to “cherry pick” evidence to suit your thesis and more to really utilize your research to show all sides (how his specific predictions were both right and wrong) of this issue.

Sources that can be used:


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