web culture: May 2009 Archives

Our culture is generating more messages than ever, as we email, blog, Tweet and text our way through each day. Everyone can communicate using multiple channels, and that's a good thing. 

But there's a cost: all of these pipes are filling up with junk. Junk people writing junk messages, junking up the channels of communication. Junk, junk, junk. So good luck finding an original thought:

"What's another word for Thesaurus," by the way, is attributed to comedian Steven Wright. The Tweeters above seem unconcerned about stealing his words. All they care about is to look smart, to be in the game. This, of course, is why so many people hate Twitter, which The Ad Contrarian says is how the narcissistic keep in touch with the feckless.

Good manners - and that includes academic and journalistic training - suggest that when we use other peoples' words, we attribute them. Our copyright laws reinforce this. But as a culture, we are increasingly ignoring these norms.

So fight that urge to retweet someone else's wisdom without attributing it. Think of that other person for a minute. Think about the rules of discourse that you learned in school. Think about copyright, so important to the production of knowledge that it's part of our Constitution.

Are you really adding to the conversation? If in doubt, maybe you should stay out. Try thinking more and speaking less. More signal, less noise. So when you do speak, people might actually listen.

It's an exciting time in the halls of the academy these days; graduation is near. And it's also a scary time, because graduating students are entering a marketplace in shambles. Old structures are crumbling; new ones have yet to figure out how to monetize. Ack! What to do? Get to work, that's what. Do something, for someone; build your networks; gain some experience; and do some good in the world. And listen to these guys, who feel your pain.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the web culture category from May 2009.

web culture: April 2009 is the previous archive.

web culture: June 2009 is the next archive.

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