Wednesday, 25 March 2009

No respect

When the dealers are selling drugs outside the school gates you know things in the educational system have gone bad. However, when the kids start using textspk in their exams and cite wikipedia in their essays it's time to get tough. Thankfully we have a Magnum Force of academics to clean up our hallowed halls. Here are my top three 'Dirty Harrys' targeting their .44 magnums at those punks using blogs, Wikipedia and other filth:

Wikipedians seem an unappealing bunch - computer fanatics, generally male, usually teenagers. They see the world only from a youthful cab driver's perspective. If anyone disagrees with the Wikipedian consensus, their edits are "reverted" and they can be banned - "indefinitely". And now it is these "editors" who are regularly trumping the fuddy-duddy professors in their ivory towers, plodding patiently through dusty books to produce yet more ... dusty books. Books!
Cohen, M. (28 August 2008). 'Encyclopaedia Idiotica'. Times Higher Education

As a dialect, text ("textese"?) is thin and - compared, say, with Californian personalised licence plates - unimaginative. It is bleak, bald, sad shorthand. Drab shrinktalk. [...] Texting is penmanship for illiterates.
Sutherland, J. (11 November 2002). 'Cn u txt?'. The Guardian.

As blogs continue to fill the Web with bizarre daily rituals and opinions of people who we would never bother speaking to at a party, let alone invite into our own homes, there has never been a greater need to stress the importance of intelligence, education, credentials and credibility.
Brabazon, T. (2006). 'The Google Effect: Googling, Blogging, Wikis and the Flattening of Expertise'. Libri, 56: 157-167

Paradoxically, the above extracts exemplify the very characteristics many tutors discourage in student writing: unsubstantiated generalisations, crude ad hominems, offensive language, a complete lack of understanding, intellectual curiosity and generosity etc. etc..

All extracts reveal the repellent aspects of some academics: a sense of intellectual superiority, for example, or a belief in their own fine wit (how I laughed at Cohen's sarcasm towards those nerds dissing professors and books).

Finally, their sounding off on topics they've very little expertise in embodies the imagined thing they dislike about the web: the no-nothing amateur usurping the expert. Yup, I certainly wouldn't talk to any of them at a party (let alone invite them into my home).

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