Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Today's Assignment: Define Reality

In the World of Cyberspace, one has a hard time defining reality. Your Humble Scribe learned that painful lesson oh, too well in the wake of yesterday's post.

As we've established in the almost-4 months we've brought you The Scholastic Scribe, we teach high school journalistas how to be better people by being honest, tenacious reporters; we also have an occasional AP English Language class thrown into that mix. The High School Scribes know that they'll be tossed off the staff for plagiarism; the AP Lang Cherubs are more than aware that applying the Big P word to their work results in a stone-cold Zero. These rules also figure in making up information of any kind.

Here's where the gray-area comes into play.

Yesterday, we posted five quotes, allegedly uttered by the Late, Great George Carlin (pictured above at the start of his career--the snap is from his Web site) over the course of his storied career. An Alert Reader (thanks, Channah!) pointed out that George might not have uttered those witticisms after all.

For the record, we got the jokes from a Web site (natch), & we didn't do any checking beyond that. Channah let us know in her post that "George Carlin did not say those things." Fair enough. She cited two sources--one that does not give credit to anyone, and, frankly, looks like one of those random Internet posts that we warn our Cherubs against citing in their papers, and another that looks like the real deal. In other words, the second site looks to be George Carlin's Official Home Page, et al, and it debunks the five one-liners we posted yesterday as "not written by George Carlin."

On his home page, Carlin says, "I want people to know that I take care with my writing, and try to keep my standards high." We would expect nothing less of such a sharp-tongued satirist. We would expect nothing less of our students. We would expect nothing less of ourselves.

Today's essay question, then: How has the Internet Re-defined Reality, & what can we do about it?


m~ said...

Wow, that's a tough question. When I was in school all my research came from books and was easy to cite, now days I just don't know. I'm sure I've broken the "P" rule. Saying is wasn't intentional just doesn't cut it....

Tara R. said...

When my boy would write a paper for school and cite Wikipedia as a source I would cringe everytime. But, apparently it is a readily acceptable information resource. I still encourage him to use the library and what I considered more authentic resources. I don't like it when the only citations kids use today are Internet websites.

Veggie Mom said...

Most of my kids' teachers insist that they limit their Internet sites when doing research papers. I'm a big fan of the old-fashioned library research routine. Plus, I LOVE the smell of libraries! I know I depend too much on the Web, so your question is a hard one.

KG said...

I'm glad you led me to this particular piece! Interesting, however my opinion is that everything you read on the internet has to be taken with a grain of salt...somethings just aren't true and you can only trust the websites that are clearly genuine.

Melissa B. said...

As I tell my Cherubs at OHHS: 99% of what you read on the Internet is in your imagination! For scholarly purposes, we try to rely on .edu and .org links--they tend to be more reliable than your run-of-the-mill cyber guy.


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