More bs about cutting and pasting.

Thanks a bunch, rap culture. Excerpts:

[An unnamed professor notes that] “This represents a shift away from the view of education as the process of intellectual engagement through which we learn to think critically and toward the view of education as mere training. In training, you are trying to find the right answer at any cost, not trying to improve your mind.”
Like many other professors, he no longer sees traditional term papers as a valid index of student competence. To get an accurate, Internet-free reading of how much students have learned, he gives them written assignments in class — where they can be watched.
…Nationally, discussions about plagiarism tend to focus on questions of ethics. But as David Pritchard, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told me recently: “The big sleeping dog here is not the moral issue. The problem is that kids don’t learn if they don’t do the work.”
…The Pritchard axiom — that repetitive cheating undermines learning — has ominous implications for a world in which even junior high school students cut and paste from the Internet instead of producing their own writing.
If we look closely at plagiarism as practiced by youngsters, we can see that they have a different relationship to the printed word than did the generations before them. When many young people think of writing, they don’t think of fashioning original sentences into a sustained thought. They think of making something like a collage of found passages and ideas from the Internet.
They become like rap musicians who construct what they describe as new works by “sampling” (which is to say, cutting and pasting) beats and refrains from the works of others.

Maybe it’s specious to say, but the ratio of paintings to collages in the world’s art museums probably is indicative of something. Anyone who wants a cheap copy of David Shields’ Reality Hunger – and doesn’t have a remainders table within driving distance – is welcome to mine.

Why blog?

I found my way to a new (for me) blog, Corresponding Fractions, which has a sensible answer to the what keeps me blogging question. Over to you, Ralph and Daniel:

This [blog] is my Savings Bank. I grow richer because I have somewhere to deposit my earnings; and fractions are worth more to me because corresponding fractions are waiting here that shall be made integers by their addition.
—Emerson, Journal (1834)

You must collect things for reasons you don’t yet understand.

—Daniel J. Boorstin


Dzanc Books has launched their new monthly journal, The Collagist.  In addition to a healthy serving of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and book reviews, issue one has an excerpt from Laird Hunt’s forthcoming novel Ray of the Star.

Ben Greenman on hating and not hating social networks.

An interesting and entertaining editorial at Fictionaut’s blog by Ben Greenman, editor at The New Yorker and author of Correspondences and Please Step Back:  Is/are Twitter – Facebook – etc. damaging to society?  Excerpt:

Information wants to be free, and everyone wants to be enslaved to that free information, irrespective of its truth, its value, or its appropriateness. These extroverted introverts are more exposed than ever, but also more protective than ever because that exposure cannot be sanely or safely regulated. The result is a broad ontological shift, a turning inside-out, where the information that should be hidden is shared and the information that should be shared is hidden. My friend Roddy feels perfectly comfortable tweeting or changing his status update to tell me that he is ambivalent about baths, or that he is watching a lizard on his windowpane, but he is reluctant to introduce me to his new girlfriend. More interestingly, he may add his new girlfriend as a friend on Facebook and possibly even change his status cryptically to indicate that he is involved, but he will not bring the real human around. If this is any indication of future trends, and I think it is, these social-networking technologies will prove corrosive to coherent identity and narrative…

As I noted in the comment section, I agree completely, both with his conviction that social networking should be banished from the earth, and yet that hey, this is useful and fun and levels the playing field of celebrity culture, at least a little bit.  Last time I nearly pulled the plug on my various internet pursuits, I logged into one of them to learn that a new novel by a favorite author is coming.  Would I have learned about it if I had pulled the plug?  I don’t know.

I’m hoping his piece sparks some interesting discussion in the comments section.

Drinking coffee from your mouse.

Not a joke:

MugMouse is a simple, playful idea, using your coffee mug as computer mouse. MugMouse rethinks the way people work at computers by making it easy to build slowness into your daily activities.

MugMouse plays on the idea of deliberately choosing to use a slower mouse for a while. Filled with tea or coffee you have to move it more carefully than a normal mouse. Do certain tasks at the computer deserve a bit more time, reflection or personal involvement? Checking your email, visiting your favourite website or blog, reading the daily news, shopping etc. MugMouse can be seen as a reward; serving as a signal to yourself and others that you are having a little time away from your work.

And that, like me, you drink way too much fucking coffee.