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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, How computers affected our life -partly rewritten-

2012年1月5日

Writing Topic
Many people feel that computers have been the biggest change in human life in recent decades. How do you think computers have affected the world we live in?

☆Let’s think
The expression in the first sentence “the biggest change in human life” means a large scale of impact on our lives like those of typography, electricity, or penicillin that brought fundamental changes in man’s life. The first sentence, therefore, means that the influence of computers on human life is comparable to these revolutionary changes.

The question starts with the word “How.” This word is about scales and characteristics. Thus this question is not about right/wrong but about quality and quantity. Although of course good/bad effects can be included in the list of changes caused by computers, you do not have to decide whether the development of the computer-based world is good or not.

☆Note
Computers are not only desktop/laptop computers but also those embedded in other machines: cell-phones, electric dictionaries, elevators, ATM, industrial robots, etc.

☆Hints for points
Examples of changes:
♦Study: paper dictionary → electric dictionary   research at the library → on the web (e.g. Wikipedia)
♦Business: making documents by hand → on word-processing and spreadsheet applications in computers  R&D/production/distribution by humans → computer networks and robots
♦Travel: making arrangements through travel agents → buying tickets and making hotel reservations directly on line
♦Lifestyle: household work → machines with computers shopping at the mall / information search through magazines / visit to the ward office for official documents → online
♦Communication: letter → e-mail/text   international phone call → Skype   fixed phone → mobile phone   direct (face-to-face or on the phone) → indirect (through mails/texts/ social networking services)
♦Entertainment: board game → video game CD → iPod handmade animation → CG video shop → YouTube fre download
♦Medicine: much faster research and development equipment with built-in computers such as hospital facilities and artificial arms and legs treatments of patients in remote areas through the Internet

The characteristic of the changes brought by computers:
faster/more efficient, more accurate, better designed, more entertaining, compact, interactive, more open/inclusive/democratic/decentralized (e.g. more information is available to the public and more people can participate), global, much larger scale (e.g. Pentagon Paper – 4000 pages of documents → WikiLeaks leak by Bradley Manning – hundreds of thousands of documents and a video in a memory stick and some CDs), more dependent on technology (spell-checkers, navigators), change of thought (e.g. communication only by e-mails/texts, concept of friends through SNS, sharing the same culture worldwide on YouTube)

☆Essays for ideas and expressions
1) Barron’s How to Prepare for the TOEFL Essay
Almost everything these days is done with the help of a computer. Computers make communication much more convenient. They make many tasks of daily life easier. They help many people do their jobs better. Overall, computers have made life easier and more convenient for everybody.
Through the Internet, computers make communication much more convenient. E-mail makes it possible to communicate with people instantly at any time of day. This is important for both our work and our personal lives. The Internet makes it possible to find out the latest news right away―even if it is news that happens someplace far away. The Internet makes it possible to get almost any kind of information from any place quickly, right in your own home or office.
Although we may not realize it, computers make many daily tasks easier. Checkout lines at stores move faster because a computer scans the prices. The bank manages your account more easily because of computers. The weatherman reports the weather more accurately with the help of computers. A computer is involved in almost everything we do, or that is done for us.
Most people these days do their jobs with the help of a computer. Architects use computer programs to help them design buildings. Teachers use computers to write their lessons and get information for their classes. Pilots use computers to help them fly planes. With the help of computers, people can do complicated jobs more easily.
We are living in the computer age. We can now do more things and do them more easily than we could before. Our personal and professional lives have improved because of computers.

2)
The impact of the computer is like that of electricity. Supply of electricity has totally changed all people’s lives, from dark to light, from tiresome to easy, or from unthinkable to possible, and opened a new era. Computers also have transformed the world dramatically into the one where we can no longer live without them, different lifestyles and new things are created, and more democratic society is possible.

Just like electricity, computers have become ubiquitous and indispensable. They are in almost all kinds of machines such as cell-phones, TVs, elevators, cash machines, factory robots, medical equipment, and air traffic control systems. A day would not pass without them. Also, the computer has become part of infrastructure. The Internet connects the world and facilitates business, communication and many other activities. No organization can function well, totally cut off from the Internet.

The computer has changed how things are done and has created new things. It facilitates faster, more accurate, and better designed jobs from calculation and document-making to trading to spaceship building. Household work is not an ordeal anymore thanks to electric appliances with built-in computers. As the computer evolves, scientific research and development is exponentially expedited and art and entertainment create things that did not exist in the pre-computer age. The World Wide Web has globalized everyday communication. People can now receive and, more importantly, send out information across the world.

The computer has given people chances to change systems for the better, into more decentralized and transparent ones. In business, small business owners can now sell their products directly to consumers online, thus reshaping the distribution channels. In politics, employees who happen to find concealed information that the general public should know such as war crimes or corruptions can reveal it through whistle-blowing websites such as WikiLeaks by sending massive amounts of raw data anonymously, and people who are more informed now owing to such leaks can organize nationwide demonstrations with worldwide supports to stand up against corrupt leaders using social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook.

I think it can be said that many more people’s lives have become more colorful and freer than before since Windows 95 made it possible for most businesses and ordinary citizens to make use of personal computers and fiber-optic cables connected continents. Although there are concerns about problems related to computer use and occasional nostalgia for life before computers, the computer keeps breaking new ground and benefitting people. It is a phenomenon of the scale that involves all the people on this planet whether they have it or not and whether they like it or not.

☆One-paragraph essay
Sample
【Main Idea = Outline】 ≪The characteristic of the changes brought by computers≫
We can no longer live without computers.
【First notable change】
Computers have become ubiquitous and indispensable.
e.g. cell-phones, TVs, elevators, business, communication, …
【Second notable change】
The computer has changed how things are done and has created new things.
e. g. faster and better jobs, R & D, interactive communication, …
【Third notable change】The computer has given people chances to change systems into more decentralized and transparent ones. e.g. direct transaction, social media, …
【Conclusion = Wrap-up】 ≪How you think computers affected our lives≫
People’s lives have become more colorful and freer than before.

Your one paragraph essay
【Main Idea = Outline】 ≪The characteristic of the changes brought by computers≫

【First notable change】

【Second notable change】

【Third notable change】

【Conclusion = Wrap-up】 ≪How you think computers affected our lives≫

☆Paragraph development
A paragraph of the body of an essay often develops its main idea as follows:
【Main Idea】Computers have made people’s lives easier and lighter.
【Explanation】 They have made it possible to do activities more efficiently.
【Detail / Example】 They have made it possible to do activities more efficiently, for instance.
【More Specific Detail / Example】Computers embedded in appliances support our cleaning, washing, and cooking. The Internet enables students to do research faster and more extensively, and various applications help make documents and charts, calculate, or manage schedule.
【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】】It is true that not all people benefit from computers and there are many drawbacks in life with computers. Still less than only 30 % of the world population actually have computers. Only rich countries benefit from computer technology to the full, and climate change and much of environmental destruction have been accelerated by the technology made possible by computers. However, it is also true that people in poor countries are indirectly helped by the computer. For example, even people in remote areas in Africa and Asia now have cell-phones, supply of goods has been expedited by computers, and Arab Spring would not have been possible without WWW.
【Conclusion】 Both directly and indirectly, computers have been powerfully supporting lives of people all over the world.

Your test paragraph development
Now let’s practice paragraph development. Choose one of the points you have come up with, make it the main idea, and develop it using the following form. As this is a tentative part of your real essay, use simple words and sentences for supporting details and focus on the logic and ideas.

【Main Idea】

【Explanation】

【Detail / Example】

【More Specific Detail / Example】

【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】

【Conclusion】

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