Here’s an outline of my argument about an app for Android smart phones, Google Sky Map. I have made my prewriting public if you are interested in how I arrived here. Thanks to Anna and John Wayne for posting about the prewriting process – it was a big help! My argument still seems to be lacking in theory, please comment if you can help me out.


MAIN CLAIM: Google Sky Maps is an effective remediation of paper star charts, because it provides stargazers with the vocabulary necessary to engage with the world of the amateur astronomer.

  1. Vocabulary is an important part of becoming an expert. GSM builds vocabulary.
    1. Messier Objects: Not sure what “messier” objects are? Guess, then look it up.
    2. Layers: Knowing whether something is a planet or star is vital when looking for more info.
    3. Constellations: some are easy to find (cassiopia, orion, ursa major) and others (draco for me) more elusive. Because these have stories associated with them, and many versions of the stories, they are good conversational entry points for the stargazer.
  2. Engaging with other experts is an important part of becoming an expert. GSM enhances the social experience of stargazing, encouraging stargazers to engage socially on the level of the amateur astronomer.
    1. but you need to engage w/ people, not an app, so getting in and getting out is key and GSM excels at this where other apps keep you in the app.
    2. GSM is free, which encourages more people to download and use it.
    3. because GSM does not include extra information, users must go to other sources to find what they are interested in, and thus not all users are spoon-fed the same info which would make the content iteslf not worth sharing in the social context.
  3. Accessible: The use qualities of GSM are similar to those of the paper star chart, but more accessible
    1. doesn’t require subscription to monthly astronomy magazine
    2. useful in-context (don’t have to stop stargazing to go to computer to use)
    3. teaches star-hopping, which is a necessary skill for lining up a telescope (a tool used by amateur astronomers)