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Tuesday
May062008

Do I write like Dick Cheney looks?

Paul Bogash at Blogush argues that blog authors should NOT include their photos with their blogs. He writes:

I like using my imagination to create an image of the person I am listening to or reading. Some of the people that I have been reading or listening to for over a year have become real people in my imagination. Their hair is cut a certain way, they wear certain clothes, and they walk a certain way.

OK, the theory is fine and dandy, but then he gets .... PERSONAL:

There is one person that I am lucky to not have seen his picture. Doug Johnson. I have read his blog on and off for a year. I know he is a short, squat, cigar, crushed hat, beard that is white, no hair, I mean nothing on top, slick talkin’ Minnesotite. He looks weathered, in a way that makes someone look tough, not old. He has been on one too many ice fishing trips without a shelter, even though people offer him a beer and he accepts, he would rather have a malted milk. He is definitely a hunter and has a stuffed rabbit, no deer, no moose head above the computer he works at. I hope that image is never shattered.

As anyone who has seen me knows, I can best be described as a cross between George Clooney and Brad Pitt - only taller, more buff, and with better hair. Although I am over half a century old, I still get carded in most bars. The only taxidermy near my desk is the rabid grizzly bear I killed in self-defense when I was twelve-years-old, using only my pocket comb.

Just wanted to set the record straight, OK?

Now when read I Paul I envision him looking like the love child of Don Knotts and RoseAnne Barr... Ewwwwwwww, as the kids would say. (He may have slipped up on January 18th and left a photo of himself.) Regardless of looks, Paul has a great blog. Put it in your reader.

So what do you think, would prefer a picture or your imagination for the bloggers you read?

boot.jpg

Illustration of your humble author from May '08 School Library Journal's Re-Boot Camp article.. At least they got the body right.

 

Monday
May052008

Tom Chapin video

 

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
from Not On The Test by John Forster & Tom Chapin

 

I suppose I am the last person in the world to see video/website, but it's wonderful:

chapin.jpg 

 http://www.notonthetest.com/

Especially meaningful right now when we are up to our ears in testing, testing, testing.

Thanks Barbara Braxton for posting this on LM_Net. Finding our what your countrymen are up to via Cooma, Australia. Amazing still to me. 

Sunday
May042008

Sanctity of print

What is cumul.us? cumul.us is a place to get simple, accurate, and useful weather information.

What makes it simple and accurate is that it collects weather forecasts from several sources and combines them together to give you a more accurate average, using the idea of the "wisdom of crowds". In short, cumul.us is the "wisdom of clouds". Not only is there data from meteorological sources, but people can make predictions themselves.  (from the cumul.us help page)

Monica Hess's article "Truth: Can You Handle It?" (Washingtonpost.com, April 25, 2008*) uses culum.us as an example of "what happens to the concepts of truth and knowledge in a user-generated world of information saturation," questioning the "wisdom of the crowds" theory and students' attitudes toward information quality. Although the article doesn't cover tons of new ground, it is well-worth spending a few minutes reading.

Among other topics, Hess describes a number of ways teachers and librarians are working to insure students pay attention to the quality of the information they use in research projects. In one example a teacher requires that students use a certain number of print sources of information. Not an uncommon requirement.

But is requiring print sources of information in a paper or project desirable, practical or effective in 2008? Why is print - a format - considered sacred by so many teachers and librarians?  Should we automatically assume that the quality of information in a book or magazine is superior to that "found on the Internet?"

Here are three reasons that we should drop the "must contain print resources" requirement:

  1. Such a requirement does not require any analysis of information quality on the part of the student. BOTH online and print resources need to be judged by their authority, currency and objectivity. The automatic assumption thatsacredcow.jpg print resources are reliable is dangerous.
  2. Such a requirement may limit the questions students might explore. A few years ago, my son Brady wanted to do a term paper for a college psychology class exploring the question whether playing video games (his passion) lead to increased real-world aggression on the part of the player. Because of strict requirements on the ratio of print to online resources, he found that he could not find enough sources for the topic (or so he said.) He changed his question to one of less personal interest and relevance to him. Does this happen to many students wishing to explore contemporary issues in their research?
  3. Such a requirement ignores that many resources are identical in print and online formats. As many students (but possibly fewer adults) recognize, much of what can be found in hard copy is available online. Must a Newsweek or Encyclopedia Britannica citation come from its print incarnation - and why? Does information from a Google BookSearch count as an online or a print citation? The line is blurring.

Here is my modest proposal. Drop the requirement that students use print resources. Period. But ADD the requirement that each citation include a sentence that argues for the authority of the source.

Is requiring print resources a sacred cow that needs to be put out to pasture?


*thanks to Cheri Dobbs for sharing this on the AASLForum