Some readers of a piece published in The Chronicle of Higher Education have persuaded me to return to this space. My thanks to the readers of The Fourth Policeman for their support. Working in this space must play a secondary role to other duties.
"Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil" (Flickr Creative Commons)
The Chronicle of Higher Education has published another unhelpful piece about Google. Geoffrey Nunberg’s “Google’s Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars” is not about a billion dollar corporation seeking monopolistic control over books while claiming exoterically that it will not “do evil.” You can find this as the first item of “Investor Relations,” and the page title ought to be a clue to Mr. Nunberg and others about what is, and will be, happening. The problem is that Mr. Nunberg does not give a damn. He is not concerned with the economic issues. Any monopoly controlling books will do for him: “Of course, 50 or 100 years from now control of the collection may pass from Google to somebody else—Elsevier, Unesco, Wal-Mart,” he writes. Mr. Nunberg wants us to worry instead about accurate metadata. How is this different from serving as a consultant for monitoring the proper temperature of the pitchforks in hell, while missing the point that you are a consultant in hell?
Remember the Google that cooperates in censorship? Remember the Google that participates in U.S. government surveillance? Apparently, those matters are not “disasters” for scholars in the way that inaccurate metadata are.
Chronicle of Higher Education's redesigned web site
The Chronicle of Higher Education has launched a new and retro 2.0-ish look on the internet, and the front page looks remarkably like The Daily Beast. The scrolling image rectangle in the upper left is a feature that helped give The Daily Beast some energy when it launched last year.
Unlike The Daily Beast, The Chronicle incorporates the rounded edges of Teletubbies-sounding web sites such as Skoosh, Disaboom, Meebo, Plaxo, Bebo. Care to buy a vowel, or have the vowel sounded out by a Sesame Street character?
The Daily Beast
The rhetoric of design offers lessons in reading Chronicle 2.0. The designers have labeled their product “the New Chronicle.” Yet, the new look reinforces the Chronicle’s standard ideological messages, such as its allegiance to corporate America. Today’s front page includes a graphic from The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, an organization devoted to advocating Fordist principles in higher education. The project’s executive director has had a career built on Total Quality Management. The mission of the members of the project is, among other things, “to generate the greatest return on investment.” Yet, the project’s members claim to represent an “independent” group. Independent = conservative, in this case.
Like The Daily Beast, the Chronicle offers its readership traditional journalistic pieces (about higher education) while serving up numerous dollops of gossip and trend-tidbits, along with TMZ-ish attention to academic celebrity sightings. Notice any similarities between TMZ’s web presence and the Chronicle’s?
Posted in Capitalism, Higher Education, Journalism, Rhetoric, Technology
Tagged Beebo, Chronicle of Higher Education, Daily Beast, productivity, Sesame Street, Skoosh, TMZ
1900, The U.S. Printing Co., Russell-Morgan Print, Cincinnati & New York-No. 4370
Worried about overworking yourself as an academic? Are you an administrator trying to come up with the next flavor of the month for distance education? We can all move to microlectures, as described in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Apparently, one of this state’s flagship schools has no problems accepting transfer credits from a school in New Mexico that has developed microlectures. The Dean at the school in New Mexico noticed, as some Deans tend to do as masters of tautology, that microlectures are short. “It’s like snapshots of learning.” If we adopt this model, classes could be 5-10 minutes long, demonstrating efficiencies that ought to cause the politicians seeking budgetary constrictions on higher education to lick this flavor. (For more on politicians, see paragraph six of one of Charlie Brooker’s columns.) Microlectures could be especially impressive in a History Department, where, say, a professor could provide two or three microlectures to cover the rise and fall of Rome. It would be like snapshots of history.