Friday, December 02, 2005

Snip, snip: bad. Link, link?

In an article in the L.A. Times, Naomi D. Baron says (to borrow their sub-head, that "Students are trading in books for search-and-seizure learning on the Internet, and real literacy is getting lost along the way".

She raises (and answers) some interesting questions:

Has written culture recently taken a nose drive? These (undergraduates) are the students who grew up on Spark Notes, the popular study guides. Many of this generation are aliterate — they know how to read but don't choose to. And abridgment of texts is now taken to extremes, with episodes from micro-novels being sent as text messages on cell phones.

Point acknowledged.

Admittedly, back in the days when research necessitated opening dozens of books in hopes of finding useful information, no one read each tome cover to cover. It is also fair to say that given how scattershot our searches sometimes were, we often missed what we were looking for. But that said, we also happened upon issues that proved more interesting than our original queries. Today's snippet literacy efficiently keeps us on the straight and narrow path, with little opportunity for fortuitous side trips.

Yeah, sort of. Certainly it can, if we ignore the inevitable links offered. Many times have I gone sniffing around for something specific and, having perhaps found it, perhaps not, caught the scent of something equally interesting and gone off on a "fortuitous side trip." I mean, I wasn't even reading the LA Times when I came across her thoughts, but having arrived there, I found other things of interest as well. And I'm giving you three links (all pretty much what they say they are) which, if you use them the way I tend to (i.e., stripping away part of the URL to see what else might be at that site), will lead you on your own "side trip."

Of course, that may not actually be "research" as much as "wild-goose-chase," but I've always enjoyed a good chase more than the actual capture anyway...

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