Education

You Are Terrible At Reading Things Online

|

Mark Bauerlein, scourge of Internet users and people born after 1965, recently wrote a book called The Dumbest Generation. Since then, he's been on a one-man jihad against Kids These Days and Their Cellular Phones and Computers.

This week, in The Chronicle of Higher Education he declares that "Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind." When people read things online, according to a newish study, their eyes move in a "F" shape, reading all the way across at the top of the page, but moving pretty much vertically down the left margin by the time they get to the bottom.

This technique is none-too-effective for understanding "a dense argument, a Modernist poem, a long political tract, and other texts that require steady focus and linear attention." Fair enough. But the online reading mode Bauerlein describes has students "race[ing] across the surface, dicing language and ideas into bullets and graphics, seeking what they already want," which doesn't sounds like the end of civilization to me. It sounds like a complementary skill to settling in with a dense text. He writes:

"Last year when I required students in a literature survey course to obtain obituaries of famous writers without using the Internet, they stared in confusion. Checking a reference book, asking a librarian, and finding a microfiche didn't occur to them. So many free deliveries through the screen had sapped that initiative."

That's akin to saying, "I asked students to make toast without a toaster, but building a fire and finding a long stick to hold the bread didn't occur to them. The toaster had sapped their initiative."

I think Bauerlein makes a moderate case at the end of the article for carving out a space in educational environments for careful reading on dead tree, but I'm not sure, because by the end of his article, I was 

r

e

a

d

i

n

g

l

i

k

e

t

h

i

s.

For more, see Nick Gillespie go head to head with Bauerlein at reason.tv.

NEXT: The Psychosomatic Plague

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Anything longer than a blog post, I print out on paper to read.

    I printed this guy’s article out, and still couldn’t be bothered to read the whole thing.

    Someone call the whaaambulance.

  2. BWAA HA HA HA!

    What luddite dufus. What does he say to the charge that inexpensive mass produced bound books destroyed the education system? Kids today can learn about whatever they want! They’ve lost the direction of priests and professors!

  3. It’s really not nice to set up, then preempt the clever comments like that…

  4. But the online reading mode Bauerlein describes has students “race[ing] across the surface, dicing language and ideas into bullets and graphics, seeking what they already want”

    My teachers and professors actually encouraged us to read that way, and not just online. It’s not worth your time to slog through stuff you don’t need if you can quickly find the stuff you do.

    Um, I mean: technology is destroying everything. I’ll get off your lawn now, sir.

  5. Last year when I required students in a literature survey course to obtain obituaries of famous writers without using the Internet

    I myself would not take a course called “Luddite Literature 101”.

  6. dear katherine,

    as if the battlestar, monty python and hitchhiker’s guide references weren’t enough, this post further substantiates my non-creepy internet love for you.

    that was awesome.

  7. Tood bad his elegant argument was posted to the internet where, like a modernist poem, it will go ignored or misunderstood.

  8. “Luddite Literature 101”.

    You may remember me from such classics as “Cave Etching of the Artist as a Young Man” and “Same Old World.”

  9. Would people not be better off if they did know that information can be found in books and microfiche and if they could conceive or how to make toast without an electric toaster?
    Technology is great and improves efficiency in all sorts of ways, but it is important to have something to fall back on when technology fails.

  10. ” When people read things online, according to a newish study, their eyes move in a “F” shape, reading all the way across at the top of the page, but moving pretty much vertically down the left margin by the time they get to the bottom.

    This technique is none-too-effective for understanding “a dense argument, a Modernist poem, a long political tract, and other texts that require steady focus and linear attention.” Fair enough. But the online reading mode Bauerlein describes has students “race[ing] across the surface, dicing language and ideas into bullets and graphics, seeking what they already want,”

    Back in my day we called this “skimming” and we did it with paper books as well.

  11. You may remember me from such classics as “Cave Etching of the Artist as a Young Man” and “Same Old World.”

    He also teaches “Intermediate Why Young People Suck” and “Advanced Finger Wagging”.

  12. “Of Modern Poetry”
    Wallace Stevens

    The poem of the mind in the act of finding
    What will suffice. It has not always had
    To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
    Was in the script.
    Then the theatre was changed
    To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

    It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
    It has to face the men of the time and to meet
    The women of the time. It has to think about war
    And it has to find what will suffice. It has
    To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
    And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
    With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
    In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
    Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
    Of which, an invisible audience listens,
    Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
    In an emotion as of two people, as of two
    Emotions becoming one. The actor is
    A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
    An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
    Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
    Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
    Beyond which it has no will to rise.
    It must
    Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
    Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
    Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.

    See! You morons probably don’t even know those are words!

  13. Book literacy is the lesser kind.

    My tribe gets all its history from a crazy dude who smears his face with shit and walks on fire every month.

  14. My tribe gets all its history from a crazy dude who smears his face with shit and walks on fire every month

    You get your history from NutraSweet? Bad move.

  15. Technology is great and improves efficiency in all sorts of ways, but it is important to have something to fall back on when technology fails.

    Then he should be teaching a class on archaic informational structures. What he’s doing in academic hazing; he got paddled when he joined the frat, so he thinks all new pledges should be paddled as well. Insisting on out-dated modalities is just crotchity-old-man-itis.

  16. “newish study”: Jakob Nielsen has been doing this work for over a decade.

    Bauerlein is onto something in the middle of the piece, however: the amount of money sunk into K-12 school computer labs has been exceedingly dumb money for a long time. I think that’s an idea we can get behind.

    I’ve encountered the mindset in other discussions about education. Everyone gets hung up on outcomes, when the point really is the process, to the extreme like the anecdote in the story: the first order outcome was getting literary obituaries, but really, the process was to use non-faddish information systems. The second order outcome was to come up with a solution to a request based on arbitrary constraints. It really doesn’t matter what the constraints are, but the true outcome should be the process.

    When I was in high school and knew everything, I didn’t care about the process, I’d take shortcuts to get to the outcome. I had to unlearn that behavior when I got to college, and actually do my homework to learn engineering calculus. I think a lot of education debates can clear the air if everyone lets go of outcomes to talk about processes.

  17. Anybody ever read the comments on YouTube videos?
    If they’re any sort of indication of the state of literacy, we’re a nation of complete fucktards.
    That’s anecdotal evidence, of course.

  18. their eyes move in a “F” shape, reading all the way across at the top of the page, but moving pretty much vertically down the left margin by the time they get to the bottom

    Or you could use that newfangled think called a “scroll wheel” to keep the text you are reading towards the top of the page.

    Luddite.

  19. Jamie, if you think that’s bad, try Yahoo! Answers or the comments section of the Politico.com blogs.

  20. However, guys like Bauerlein only offer further evidence in my eyes that most people over 40 who despise the younger generation only do so because they’re the ones fucking like rabbits.

  21. “And lo, did the people of the lower valley find rich fields and supple womens. And this became the home of your grandfather’s grandfathers…

    [cough] Can somebody get me the Neosporin? These blisters hurt like a mo-fo.”

  22. Jamie, if you think that’s bad, try Yahoo! Answers or the comments section of the Politico.com blogs.

    I’d rather spend six months learning how to take a shit in my own mouth.

  23. crotchity-old-man-itis

    I think they make a cream for that.

    He also teaches “Intermediate Why Young People Suck” and “Advanced Finger Wagging”.

    You need a faculty recommendation to get into “Introductory Lawn Chasing,” though.

  24. Jamie Kelly | September 19, 2008, 12:50pm | #
    Anybody ever read the comments on YouTube videos your local paper’s online-editorial pages?
    If they’re any sort of indication of the state of literacy, we’re a nation of complete fucktards.
    That’s anecdotal evidence, of course.

    There, fixed it for you.

    You could of course substitute any online forum (LGF, DailyKos, 4chan, etc.) and get the same sentence.

  25. I don’t blame you. 99% of the comments on the Politico.com blogs (or the CNN Political Ticker) are a long the lines of:

    BOOM! YEAH TEH HEADSHOT!!!! ELECSHUN OVAH!!

  26. I’d rather spend six months learning how to take a shit in my own mouth.

    Also long as you didn’t learn how on the Internet, Bauerlein would be OK with that.

  27. DailyKos (and RedState) are at least literate, even if they’re partisan asshats.

    LGF, Democratic Underground, and Free Republic? Not so much.

  28. Actually I can count the number of blogs with enough literate commentators to make the comments section worth reading on one hand.

    DK, RedState, Hit & Run, FiveThirtyEight, and Eunomia. That’s about it.

  29. I’d rather spend six months learning how to take a shit in my own mouth.

    Also long as you didn’t learn how on the Internet, Bauerlein would be OK with that.

    “From Colon to Cuspids: A Shitter’s Guide to Fecal Gastronomy.”
    It’s on the top of my bookshelf.

  30. Seriously you guys
    They didn’t know how to find something on microfiche! MICROFICHE!
    Surely our society is coming to an end when people don’t have to waste all of their research time getting to the documents they want! What, then, if they didn’t have to contact a librarian about possible other sources of similar information and relied on WEBSITES that were perfectly capable of doing the same thing for them?! The horror!

  31. “newish study,”
    “newish” is a word? What does it mean? Is a sect of Judaism? What?

  32. Is microfiche like microfilm? I managed to get through college without using either, so…

  33. Bauerlein’s next book:

    Your Hand is Good Enough: Unnecessary Toilet Paper and Decadent Ass-Wiping in the 21st Century.

  34. “From Colon to Cuspids: A Shitter’s Guide to Fecal Gastronomy.”
    It’s on the top of my bookshelf.

    And Jamie wins the thread.

    NutraSweet was a close second.

  35. Is microfiche like microfilm?

    I think the only difference is that microfilm is on a roll rather than a card. I only had to use it once, to access archives of an obscure local newspaper. It was a colossal pain in the ass.

  36. Ok, well, whatever it is I got fairly good grades in college without having to use it even once. Who the fuck needs that when there’s JSTOR?

    It’s like bitching about how kids these days don’t know MS-DOS command lines.

  37. Microfilm is positive high-silver content gelatin film, usually used to reproduce newspapers (and magazines.) Microfilm was heavily-invested in by the Federal government during the Cold War as a way to cheaply produce repositories of human knowledge in multiple secure locations in case of nuclear war.

    Microfiche is a single 4″x5″ positive reproduction on silver gelatin stock. Mostly used to reproduce single issues of magazines. All the same limitations of microfilm.

    Microcards are a printed reproduction, usually of theses and dissertations, in very small black text on a glossy white background. (You can wipe them clean with your thumb.)

  38. Reinmoose,

    What the hell is “microfiche”? And don’t try to act all “get off my lawn” with me or I’m gonna TP your house!

  39. And Bauerlein’s book after that:

    “Showering with an Elephant Trunk: Hanna-Barbera as Futurists.”

  40. I got dizzy using either one. Sliiiiiiding the microfiche from side to side and having to remember that, like using a microscope, I had to go left when i wanted to see right.

    Then the vertical whipping of images on the microfilm.

    Almost gives me a headache just to remember it.

  41. Another shocker: I didn’t have to use tape drives, either! AMAZING!

  42. I’ve never used it either Naga, although I remember being at the library once when my sister had to do a research project. What a royal pain in the ass

  43. Better analogy:

    “I asked students to do arithmetic in roman numerals, but the positional number system had sapped their initiative.”

  44. I’m grateful I didn’t have to store my dissertation on punch cards.

  45. Nevermind, Reinmoose. SugarFree answered my question.

  46. Mark Bauerlein’s book, The Dumbest Generation, is an example of what we call “projection.”

  47. You need a faculty recommendation to get into “Introductory Lawn Chasing,” though.

    Don’t forget “Fundamentals of Waiting for the Postman to Deliver Your Social Security Check”.

    What the hell is “microfiche”? And don’t try to act all “get off my lawn” with me or I’m gonna TP your house!

    NutraSweet is old, Naga, read his explanations. His being a faggy librarian has nothing to do with that knowledge. Nothing.

  48. Anybody ever read the comments on YouTube videos?
    If they’re any sort of indication of the state of literacy, we’re a nation of complete fucktards.
    That’s anecdotal evidence, of course.

    Have you ever wondered what a complete and unedited letters to the editor section of the gray lady would have looked like pre-internet?

    A YouTube comments page, perhaps?

  49. Oh, and the easiest way to dismiss Bauerlein is to point to actual facts: Average IQs in industrialized countries keep going up.

  50. Epi,

    Sufferin’ a little Freudian Projection are we?

  51. Mark Bauerlein IS a member of the dumbest generation ever, having graduated high school in the early 1980’s when official test scores proved that kids were dumber than a fence post.

    Everything has been statistically improving since public education hit bottom during his tenure in public high school so WHAT THE HELL IS HE TALKING ABOUT?

    Except for those stoopid looking skaters wearing their jeans down around their knees with their black hoodies that they will not remove even during triple digit heat with electrical blackouts, todays kids are smart, witty, bright, articulate, and well read. They have their own generational peculiarities, but that is true across the board with every generation.

    I don’t know if they are the smartest generation ever, but it is true that what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is that we don’t have to learn how to build a car every generation. Hence, they may be smarter by virtue of the fact that we’re building on what went before.

    All that notwithstanding, they certainly ain’t dumb.

  52. Well being age 40 and born in 1968, I am quite happy to be lumped in with the younger gen for the first time in a long time.

  53. Here, here!

    *drinks to TWC’s comment*

  54. Also long as you didn’t learn how on the Internet, Bauerlein would be OK with that.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a website to show you how…….

  55. We’re already a nation of complete fucktards, Youtube just gives those fucktards a voice.

    C’mon, Jamie Kelly, have you seen the shitheads we elect to congress year-after-year?

  56. *drinks to TWC’s comment*

    Cool. Thanks.

  57. Wow, I’m old.

    Microfiche – yep (sometimes embedded in punch cards)
    Hard copy periodical archives – yep (microfilm for newspapers due to space limitations and fire hazards)
    MS-DOS commands – yep (zspool is cool)
    Bound books – yep
    Tape drives for digital data – yep

    I’ve even dealt with paper punch program loading and data printout. Have I ever mentioned computers with gears and cams?

  58. Sufferin’ a little Freudian Projection are we?

    Naga, have you started drinking early again today?

    *drinks to TWC’s comment*

    And I see you have.

    Don’t make me make more muff diving jokes on you.

  59. I remember being at the library once when my sister had to do a research project. What a royal pain in the ass.

    And it hasn’t been that long since I had to drive to the Law Library to look up obscure case law because I didn’t want to spend the thousands of dollars it took to keep one’s tax library current.

    Computers and the internet have multiplied my productivity so much that it is sometimes unfathomable.

    Mrs TWC used to have drive to UCLA to get stuff that she can get in 10 minutes using Lexxis Nexxis or other internet sources.

  60. Yes JSubD, we is old.

    I used to spend more money every month to use an outside computer service to process and print financial statements and tax returns than my main computer and software cost today.

  61. Unfortunately it was a glass of diet pepsi, Epi. I gotta work today so I’ve gotta be on my toes to make up for the money I spent last night. Thank god for cheap friends sometimes. Also, what muff diving jokes?

  62. And I learned the art of scanning documents long before the Commodore 64.
    Mark Bauerlein is just upset that youth today don’t have to spend money on this shit.

  63. Computers and the internet have multiplied my productivity so much that it is sometimes unfathomable.

    True that.

  64. Guess I should mention that I have an accounting and tax gig. Some know that, lots don’t. Now it makes more sense what I said at 1:46.

  65. Seriously, idiots like Bauerlein don’t realize how incredibly productive the internet has made your average individual.

    I cannot IMAGINE needing the kind of law library that TWC is referencing. Added bonus: Westlaw and Lexis have made “bad” competition in law school (like, stealing books or destroying them so the other kids can’t get ‘the A’) nigh on impossible.

  66. Oh. Sorry Epi. Just ran back to my comments last night.

  67. A YouTube comments page, perhaps?

    The reason that YouTube comments seem like they are written by 10 – 12 year-olds, I just recently discovered, is that they are, in fact, written by 10-12 year-olds.

  68. Thank god for cheap friends sometimes.

    I feel for you, Naga. At what point do people mature past the embarrassingly cheap phase? I’ve actually had to stop hanging out with people who do that quibbling over the check thing. Or conveniently forget to tip. Douchebags.

  69. Have you ever wondered what a complete and unedited letters to the editor section of the gray lady would have looked like pre-internet?

    A YouTube comments page, perhaps?

    As someone who once worked as a “newsroom typist,” where I input letters-to-the-editor into the computer system of a major metropolitan newspaper, I can answer this one: No. Those raw letters did not resemble a YouTube comments section.

    In fact, the letters were generally well written, all the way down to the precision of the punctuation. Sure, the tone often lapsed into shrill, and the arguments were often weak — that just comes with political commentary. But all told, correspondents were intelligent and capable of communicating clearly using standard English.

    The Internet has made it easy for us to see the intellectual innards of the idiot masses. Writing a letter to the editor involved some effort. Communicating online requires little effort, and at places such as YouTube, many participants devote precisely that.

  70. At what point do people mature past the embarrassingly cheap phase?

    They don’t; it’s reflex. My cousin, who I hang out with a lot, is cheaper than a two dollar whore, and it’s never going to change. Luckily his girlfriend picks up the slack so I don’t have two. I so detest quibbling over money that I’ll just pay the whole thing myself.

  71. Dagny T.,

    One is from Denver and she is gearing up for a degree in pharmacy in addition to her accounting degree. My friend Darrin just had a kid a few months ago in addition to two other kids with a crazy bitch. They have an excuse. The other two are just, as you so eloquently put it, douchebags. We were in Malibu this May and when they found out you had to tip valet, Lyman screamed out, “I’m not fucking giving them a dime. All they did was park a car!” Bad day for me.

  72. I so detest quibbling over money that I’ll just pay the whole thing myself.

    I do the same thing. Then some people start to feel bad, and very magnanimously offer you an extra $3 or something. I was hoping that as people my age start to make more money/get more class, that would change.

    “I’m not fucking giving them a dime. All they did was park a car!”

    Ew. Bad tippers are so unfuckable. If you can’t afford to go out, stay home.

  73. I cannot IMAGINE needing the kind of law library that TWC is referencing.

    You paid a huge chunk of money to buy the library and another huge chunk for the update service. There was about a dozen or more thick loose leaf notebook looking binders. Each one held a thousand pages or so. Each page was about as thick as an onion skin or one of the pages in those fancy Bibles. Every week the update service sent a package of replacement pages and somebody had to sit down and find the old pages, take them out, then put the new ones in. It was a tedious and thankless job. More often than not we’d just toss the updates in a box until we needed a particular section. Then curse the secretary (not where she could hear, of course) for not updating the books like she was supposed to.

    Rule 1: Always blame the help.

  74. Dagny T.,

    Lyman has found the perfect girlfriend. Angela is just as cheap. Just more subtle about it. I knocked on their door once to borrow a phone and what the fuck do I see them doing on the floor? A jigsaw puzzle! No fucking joke, on a Saturday night they were doing . . . a jigsaw puzzle. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.

  75. a jigsaw puzzle. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.

    Were they playing strip jigsaw puzzle?

  76. I was hoping that as people my age start to make more money/get more class, that would change

    In my experience, cheapskates may mellow slightly when they make real money, but only a little. I have friends who are legitimately poor so I have no problem paying for them, but when you’re not…

    Bad tippers are so unfuckable

    Wait, your johns tip you? I though everything was covered in the $25.

  77. a jigsaw puzzle. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.

    Wow, that is worse than my friends who have board game parties. They are engaged and moving to the suburbs where they belong, and where they will presumably eat at Applebee’s* and eventually progress to the jigsaw puzzle phase. It’s kind of cute, I guess. In a “dear God, I need a drink” sort of way.

    *insert regionally appropriate chain restaurant with numerous pieces of flair

  78. Naga,

    A jigsaw puzzle? Sweet fuck, that is boring. I got invited to a New Year’s Eve party once where the hosts wanted the 8 or so to work on a kitchen table-sized jigsaw all night. Kid Chaos showed up and fucked that all up.

  79. …than my main computer and software cost today.

    Even speaking off-handedly about the concept of “my *main* computer” would have been insane even a decade ago for most people.

    Yay, progress!

  80. Dag,

    Have you been reading The Unfuckables blog meme going around?

  81. Wait, your johns tip you? I though everything was covered in the $25.

    Pwn!

    “You want I should clean, too, or just the sex?”

  82. TWC,

    No. Just a jigsaw puzzle. I just stood there and stared at the jigsaw puzzle. I finally asked to borrow a phone. They complied, with Lyman mumbling “Don’t use up my minutes”. Then Angela asked me if I wanted to join. Another awkward moment until I just started to laugh.

  83. Naga,

    Was it at least strip jigsaw?

  84. SugarFree,

    I know it is tough to wrap your head around but just a jigsaw puzzle. Refer to my post at 2:34.

  85. Worse than cheap friends are the friends that go to the same fucking sports bar for 30 cent wings and not a single female in sight.

    Fuck that noise.

  86. Wait! “Strip” jigsaw puzzles? What you talkin’ bout Willis?

  87. Was it at least strip jigsaw?

    Objection. Asked and answered. 😉

    Naga, All girls named Angela are hot…….

    But the jigsaw puzzle? I’m serious, there are so many options for us homebodies. A jigsaw puzzle just seems so boring. Not as bad as Sugar’s New Years Eve Jigsaw Puzzle Party, though.

    I suppose there are some people who actually like jigsaw puzzles. And for that they should be mercy kilt.

  88. Have you been reading The Unfuckables blog meme going around?

    SugarFree,

    Nope, but I just checked it out. A little less vitriolic than usual. But who the hell are these chicks dating? Do they hate all men just because they only date the fucktards?

    Also, am I the only one who doesn’t know what this is:

    Never, ever utter the word or attempt to motorboat.

    ?

  89. Wait! “Strip” jigsaw puzzles? What you talkin’ bout Willis?

    It’s called improvisation. Or making the best of a bad situation.

  90. Yeah, I too used to have cheap friends, Dagny.
    It’s a real pain in the butt when you’re young to go out with a group and have people order something that’s $4.95 and when the bill comes they offer that they have $5. I’ll just say I refuse to handle the check anymore when going out with large groups.
    I went out with my softball league a lot last year and I always tacked on 30%-35% to whatever my menu value was and gave it directly to the poor sap who was handling it and indicated that the extra money was to help pick up the slack, but I’m not touching that shit.
    To some degree people get better when they get more money, but for me, I just change how much I go out, or how much I order when I go out depending on my income.

  91. I am confident there is no board game or puzzle I cannot turn into a “strip” or “drinking” variant.

    Strip Yar’s Revenge was tough, but I pulled it off.

  92. attempt to motorboat

    My kids used that term to describe popcorn farting in the bathtub. Somehow I think in this context it means something else.

  93. Dag,

    Motorboat means to nestle your face between and women’s breasts, make a raspberry and shake your head back and forth.

  94. Or the breasts of a really fat guy, I guess. Don’t want to be sexist or anything.

  95. make a raspberry and shake your head back and forth.

    Does that usually get the girl hot? Or have I just been out of the dating scene for a while.

    Or both.

  96. TWC,

    Interesting that you noted that. Angela used to model for Dilliards or some such store.

    Reinmoose,

    I once was that server. I used to work for Buffalo Wild Wings as a server. Worst job ever.

    SugarFree,

    I may have to pay you to write a book. That I may learn from the master.

  97. TWC,

    It is primarily a “clever” way to note that a woman has large breasts, so I doubt it would do much for the average woman.

  98. Angela used to model for Dilliards or some such store

    Toldja.

  99. TWC,

    Does it get the girl hot? Depends on how much she has been drinking and how much she appreciates audacity. I suppose sluttiness comes into play as well.

  100. In fact, the letters were generally well written, all the way down to the precision of the punctuation. Sure, the tone often lapsed into shrill, and the arguments were often weak — that just comes with political commentary. But all told, correspondents were intelligent and capable of communicating clearly using standard English.

    Tom, but there is a reason for that. When you are bothering to send a letter you wrote with a typewriter, that changes things. The casual element is removed. The same letter a person spent half an hour typing in 1985, they might whip out in 3 minutes on a message board. The same “idiots” posting on youtube might actually produce decent output if they were setting type on a proof press. Maybe that’s a stretch, but the format changes the rules. Just look at the bad, but internet-OK grammar, in the first sentence of my post.

    I’m worried about the loss of morse code. What happens if all the telepohones fail? Anyone here (not) seen Goliath Awaits? How would you communicate through the ship’s hull to the dudes in the sub?

  101. a “clever” way to note that a woman has large breasts

    Oh, sorry, I get it now. It’s more of a guy joking around thing.

    Course, I thought it was actually going to be something quite a bit worse.

  102. bigbigslacker,

    You should read some S.M. Stirling novels. Dies the fire, The protectors war, A meeting at Corvallis. His supposition is what if the power goes out and never comes back on. No guns either. All high-energy technology is dead.

  103. I’ll just say I refuse to handle the check anymore when going out with large groups.

    Reinmoose,

    Good strategy. I’m an accountant, so unfortunately people assume I’ll be the one to handle the check. Unless I’m with other accounting/finance people (which is all too frequent. You know it’s bad when people at a party don’t ask what you do, but whether you’re in tax or audit). They tend to be much better at that game.

  104. TWC,

    Combined with a rim-job, the Motorboat turns into Night Boat.

  105. Thanks for the lesson, SF.

    Course, I thought it was actually going to be something quite a bit worse.

    I did too. Now I think my ignorance is just a not-so-flattering reflection on my breasts.

  106. Motorboating can also refer to rather rapid licking while muff diving. To be honest, I can’t tell which the Jezebel post was referring to.

  107. Hmmm . . .

    *hastily writes down Night Boat instructions*

  108. Dagny –
    I used to go to a lot of parties with engineers and they didn’t even bother talking about engineering, although that didn’t stop them from talking about Anime, gadgets, or other similar topics.
    Engineers, however, are generally pretty good about being good tippers.
    Artists (or those who perceive that they are poor, or artists) are the worst tippers, in my experience.

  109. Thank goodness for internet! I just know I coudn’t have found all this information on motorboating, rim jobs and strip jigsaw puzzles on microfiche.

  110. These damn kids and their cuniform, they’ll never memorize anything from now on.

  111. Motorboating can also refer to rather rapid licking while muff diving

    So, since you’re an expert, can we assume you’ll be covering this topic in your inevitable book? SugarFree’s book will be covering strip Parcheesi, so I think we’re set.

  112. So, since you’re an expert, can we assume you’ll be covering this topic in your inevitable book?

    As if I would give up my secret skills. They remain mine and mine alone.

  113. Quite drooling Dagny. I’m sure it will be available soon at your nearest Barnes and Noble.

  114. Engineers, however, are generally pretty good about being good tippers.

    Smart and slightly geeky results in a desire to be polite, I think. I have a soft spot for engineers, though, after dating a few in college. Nice guys, good sound systems. 🙂

  115. Quite drooling Dagny. I’m sure it will be available soon at your nearest Barnes and Noble.

    Now I know Epi has rejected you, Naga, but that’s no reason to lash out. Here’s what we’ll do, we’ll get all dressed up, and go out and find you a man who’ll respect your safe word, ok?

  116. Can my safeword be Nightboat?

  117. Here’s what we’ll do, we’ll get all dressed up, and go out and find you a man who’ll respect your safe word, ok?

    Naga hits a nerve 😉

    Can my safeword be Nightboat?

    Well done, Mr. Sadow.

  118. Last year when I required students in a literature survey course to obtain obituaries of famous writers without using the Internet

    If I were a student of his, I would turn in two papers. One done without the internet, and one done with the internet. I would put in the papers the time it took me to research. The internet paper would take less time and have more content.

    Knowing how to research offline in libraries remains a useful skill, as not everything is online. It should be taught. But it’s no reason to disparage the internet.

  119. Episiarch,

    One of my powers is an ability to anger women with little or no provocation.

    *blows Dagny a kiss and delivers gunshot slap to her rear*

  120. Naga hits a nerve 😉

    Whatever could you mean?

    Well done, Mr. Sadow.

    Ah. Defending your man, I see. All becomes clear. 😉

  121. One of my powers is an ability to anger women with little or no provocation.

    Jeez, boys, I was kidding! I knew I should have added a cutesy emoticon.

  122. First of all, who in the hell considers starting drinking by 6:10 central starting early? Secondly, jigsaw puzzles bring out the goofyness in all of us. Without power after Gustaf we brought one out and the stupid comments began immediatly. As usual, everybody quits and I’m left to finish it. I’m almost a third of the way through, and it has only been three weeks. We never eat at the table anyway, which is even worse for kids than internet reading. Oh well, a little over an hour to tipping time.

  123. Dagny T.,

    You got the wrong idea. Epi’s just the village bicycle. Everyone’s had a ride. You’re the only one for me. Kiss and make up?

  124. James,

    Some of us have power. I’d rather watch Zardoz than do a jigsaw puzzle!

  125. Whatever could you mean?

    (smiles broadly, knowingly)

    Ah. Defending your man, I see. All becomes clear. 😉

    Merely complimenting him on producing a running gag from the thread. Proper comedy skills should be encouraged.

    Jeez, boys, I was kidding! I knew I should have added a cutesy emoticon.

    We know you were kidding. We’re just teasing you ;-P

  126. Epi’s just the village bicycle. Everyone’s had a ride.

    Naga, I take offense at this as it might imply that I would bang unattractive women, which is utterly false. I realize that since this is your only recourse, you might be superimposing your own experiences on mine, but you shouldn’t make that mistake.

  127. Kiss and make up?

    Deal. 😉

    We’re lucky there are no Feministing trolls on here, though, or we’d all be in trouble.

  128. Motorboating can also refer to rather rapid licking while muff diving. To be honest, I can’t tell which the Jezebel post was referring to.

    Considering how many of them consider a guy who won’t go down on them when they have their period to be “undateable,” it’s probably the boobie Bronx cheer they’re talking about.

  129. Epi,

    Should I be laying on a couch with you sitting in a lounger chair writing on a notepad while asking me the question “And how did that make you feel?” again and again? Anyway . . .

    I am, alas, guilty of sleeping with unattractive women. In my defense I get beer goggles when I’ve been drinking to much. A bar skank can look like Jessica Alba to me in an inenebriated condition.

  130. (smiles broadly, knowingly)

    At this juncture, I would normally ask that you try to use your power for good, not evil, but I’d be wasting my breath, I think.

    Proper comedy skills should be encouraged.

    Finally, social engineering I can get behind. Tax cuts, plz!

  131. Dagny T.,

    I can only hope you are as beautiful as you are magnanimous.

    *makes a sweeping bow*

  132. SugarFree,

    I rarely get grossed out but . . . THAT was gross!

  133. Pop Quiz

    You’re an academic who has spent the last two years writing a book. When is the best time to contact the photographic archivist who is the only person in the state, possibly the entire world, who has the images you would like to use to illustrate your weighty tome?

    a) As early as possible in the writing process, in order to give as much time as possible to research and search for suitable images.

    b) After the first draft of the book, when the types of images you want will be settled and agreed to by your editors.

    c) 3:30pm the Friday before the Wednesday your book goes to galleys.

    If you answered “c,” congratulations: You are a moron.

  134. Naga,

    I wish I was kidding.

  135. In my defense I get beer goggles when I’ve been drinking to much

    There’s nothing wrong with that. For you, not me, that is. Unattractive women need love too.

    At this juncture, I would normally ask that you try to use your power for good, not evil, but I’d be wasting my breath, I think

    You think correctly! But I will try, a little, because you asked.

  136. I can only hope you are as beautiful as you are magnanimous.

    Lucky for me, I am. And humble, too! 😀

    If you answered “c,” congratulations: You are a moron.

    You cranked that strip Parcheesi book out fast!

    Seriously, congratulations. What is your real, genius book about?

  137. Dag,

    I am the photographic archivist in the quiz.

  138. Alright. Gotta go to work finally. Peace out, homies. Stay black!

    *raises fist above head in power salute*

  139. I am the photographic archivist in the quiz.

    Haha, I see. Sorry. Histrionics from temperamental writers? Sounds superfun.

  140. Haha! We don’t read the entire article because it is BORING and REDUNDANT. Last time I took a journalism class, I’m pretty sure they recognized that most people only read the top 1/3 of an article in print or otherwise. That’s why journalists are taught to put all the content in the first few paragraphs. It has nada to do with the internet .. or with young people. It has to do with people only needing a certain amount of information and really not caring about some blowhard’s extrapolation.

  141. You should read some S.M. Stirling novels. Dies the fire, The protectors war, A meeting at Corvallis. His supposition is what if the power goes out and never comes back on. No guns either. All high-energy technology is dead.

    Naga Sadow, I wish. These days all the stuff I read starts with the letters IEC, ANSI, UL, GR-, TIA, NFPA, NEMA, or ITU. In fact, I’ve become so detached from enjoying literature that when I read “Dies the fire” in your post, just for a second I thought you were telling me to go die in a fire. Given my reading list above, no energy for a (short) time would be a vacation.
    Actually, I plan on going to the old family “farm” in Southern KY in a few weeks. No running water, no electricity, no street lights, and the falling down remains of a turn of the previous century farm house for shelter. But we’ll have guns. Lots and lots of guns. I’m getting giddy now.

  142. Density is fine within a small group of people with a high degree of shared linguistic conventions, where the goal is to advance a narrow understanding of a narrow issue.

    Online, you can make a point that millions of people might see. Therefore, it behooves us to be able to make a point clearly and quickly.
    In the past, this was not possible for the vast majority of people. If people are ditching density it seems that it’s for the right reasons — to better communicate with a wider audience.

  143. Iworm, that’s the difference between the parent’s pages and the doctor’s pages when looking up children’s diseases. The doctor’s pages get pretty dense discussing gene number this or brain part that. The internet has more information than almost anyone can handle when it comes down to it.

  144. Ah…Generation X. The first “ironic” generation, and the first generation unable to define the word “ironic”.

    Seriously, though. Personally, my reading rate for near 100% comprehension is about 1100 wpm. I just set autoscroll to a comfortable speed, and anything that is is too dense for that speed gets rejected by the synapses as too fucking trivial to bother with.

  145. And yes, I remember punch cards, tape drives, microfilm, microfiche, etc. Imagine, if you will, with your young, not-yet-fully-formed brains; the magical ability to quickly scan reams of documents in a reader instead of flipping pages in ginormous stacks of literature.

    The innertubes are much faster/easier, but you do have to be much more careful about using valid sources. It’s too easy for some douche to upload tripe.

    NTTATWWT, I love a nice tripe florentine.

  146. What an ass. The Internet has been such an important, and far reaching tool for information hounds that I think it’s safe to say that most people actually take it for granted.

    The ability to cross reference conveniently, and engage in do-it-yourself interests is exactly how people should learn. After all, intelligence is not just about gleaning words from a page, but actually applying those thoughts, and ideas toward a deeper understanding.

    Also, the ability to read debates, and discussions is another important result of Internet technology that is once again, often taken for granted.

    Only hearing a professor’s argument, or the arguments of your brain-dead classmates can make traditional education seem painstakingly slow, and unrewarding.

    In the end, real education is about personal initiative. If you want to increase your knowledge on any topic, there really aren’t any excuses left. You can’t blame it on your school system, or your Marxist professor. You can go online and explore an almost endless resource of contrary opinions.

    School, alone, clearly hasn’t been able to instill those qualities in even a majority of the people who enter into its scheme.

    I believe that an educational institution can be as meaningful as one makes it, but ultimately, what you learn, and how you learn is going to be up to you.

    Thanks to the Internet, from a written standpoint, there is little stopping you.

    People like the author are merely trying to keep their seat at the table, and preserve what they apparently think is their intellectual authority.

  147. Bauerlein is a shithead. Every generation bemoans the idiocitude of the next generation (read Plato).

    And yes,

    I’m

    hoping that I’ve created

    a

    n
    e
    w

    w
    o
    r
    d
    .

  148. The Internet has made it easy for us to see the intellectual innards of the idiot masses.

    Indeed. They’ve always been there, like germs.
    The internet, like the microscope, makes them visible.

  149. The innertubes are much faster/easier, but you do have to be much more careful about using valid sources.

    So true. A finely tuned B/S detector is a necessary tool for perusing the intertubes. It’s disheartening that so many ere unable to differentiate between a screed and a considered argument. The internet contains more of the former.

  150. Yeah, Franklin, IQ scores have gone up, but the first guy who observed this, Flynn, was careful to say that the gains are in aptitudes so abstract that they have pretty much no bearing upon real world things.

    And yeah, Marcys, every elder group chastizes the juniors–and rightly so. Who else is going to let teenagers know that history didn’t begin on their 13th birthday? Who else is going to remind them that there are better heroes to find than their coolest classmates?

    Finally, all you guys cheering the intelligence-building activities of the Net need to explain why there is not a single steady measure of knowledge and skill gains found among teenagers for the last 15 years.

  151. Mark Bauerlein | September 20, 2008, 1:49pm | #

    Finally, all you guys cheering the intelligence-building activities of the Net need to explain why there is not a single steady measure of knowledge and skill gains found among teenagers for the last 15 years.

    Maybe because if you’re a teenager, Facebook and Japanese Bukaka are slightly more interesting than a well-reasoned article. 😉

  152. Is someone blaming the Internet for teenagers not learning? Because there’s something called public schooling where I went everyday for four years and learned how much teachers can not know about their subject and still get paid.

  153. Lol, there is too much unsound criticism. I would like to notice, that this mister should better choose the text of the article on Essays Match, because now it is awful. I would feel shame if I were him. So, take it easy guys.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.