"Simple Answers" by Randall Munroe Reading/Writing Questions

Randall Munroe

“Simple Answers”

Randall Munroe is the creator of xkcd: a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.  Updated with new webcomics every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, xkcd.com is a web site that Munroe originally created to archive some comics from his old math notebooks. However, with the increasing popularity of his webcomics, Munroe, who is a graduate of CNU with a degree in physics, was able to leave his job working with the robotics division of NASA’s Langley Research Center in 2007 and dedicate himself full time to producing and marketing material related to xkcd.  His work, which is both humorous and scientifically rigorous, has been featured in The New Yorker and has been the source of multiple internet memes.  Dedicated to issues related to a number of different scientific questions and technological issues, Munroe’s work is not only enjoyed by many people, but is often praised for its innovative approaches to the visual representation of highly technical issues and information.  In this webcomic, Munroe provides some “Simple Answers” to some of the world’s most pressing questions about new technologies.


Have you ever made a joke about a serious subject and found yourself saying something quite profound?




1.      Before you can provide answers, you must have questions.  In your own words, rewrite the questions that Munroe poses and answers.

2.      Though clearly humorous, Munroe’s webcomic raises some serious issues.  Using only abstract nouns, name the issue that each line of the webcomic addresses.

3.      How many different voices are represented in this webcomic?  Use evidence from the webcomic to support your findings.


1.    Explain how Munroe employs word choice and parallelism as rhetorical strategies in this webcomic.

2.     In one paragraph to two paragraphs reflect on why the webcomic as a genre is well suited to a discussion of the issues Munroe is raising. 

3.     Would you answer each of the questions Munroe asks in the same way as he does?  In a brief essay, please explain why or why not you agree or disagree with each of his “Simple Answers,” making sure to include your rationale for your response to each. 

4.     Using Munroe's webcomic as a model, create your own list of "Simple Answers to the Questions That Get Asked of Every New Technology."