Tabitha's blog posts tagged with 'ideas'

communication, technology, and DIY

Oct

12

One of the things I love most about studying early modern literature is how relevant it seems to modern life. My readings lately have been about the print revolution and how it completely changed the face of human existence. That's not an exaggeration, either. Can you imagine a world without printed media? I certainly can't. It's one of the things that Elizabeth Eisenstein says makes it difficult for us to really understand just how much the advent of the printing press changed the world.

I think there are quite a lot of parallels between Gutenberg's invention and the rise of the internet. It's not a perfect comparison by any means, but the similarities are there. Opening up communication to a whole new group of people, the loosening of one particular authority's grip on information, and the addition, for good or ill, of a whole new range of human experience. People slag off the internet-- hell, I slag off the internet-- but I really feel that it has a lot in common with the printing press in that it's a new form of communication that has quickly become ubiquitous. How many young people now can remember life before the internet? I was around then, and I can barely remember it. I definitely recall doing research the hard way, with actual books and paper library catalogues, instead of with the internet. A world of information is at my fingertips. I wonder if this is how some early modern scholar felt, walking around the churchyard of St. Paul's.

The problem we encounter in a culture where everyone gets to speak up is determining which voices are worth listening to. If Authority no longer dictates who gets a say, it falls to us to be our own Authority. And sometimes we're pretty crap at that. Critical thinking skills don't really come naturally to human beings, much as we like to preen about being The Rational Mammal or some such nonsense. When it comes to it, we're pretty much just jumped-up monkeys with bigger, sharper sticks.

I'm going to have to look into this idea and investigate whether anyone else has drawn these parallels between the growth of printing and the growth of the internet. I think there might be a dissertation there. Or at least a term paper.

time to get back to the grind-- also, stop the cuts

Jan

25

I haven't written here in more than a month. I spent most of December being a lazy bastard and consequently a good portion of January flailing about and panicking about my term papers. They turned out pretty well I think-- at least, I thought so until it came time to turn them in. But I can't worry about them now. They're out of the way, out of my hands, and I can commence shitting myself once again when evaluations come in. Now I've got to focus on my current seminars.

Which brings me to my next point. One of my tutors this term is going to be made redundant. If the cuts that management is proposing go through, this woman will lose her job. I've already slagged off uni management and their plans that are clearly based on information from an imaginary Sussex full of business students, but it bears repeating: this is ridiculous. Higher education funding is being cut across the board-- because apparently the UK government want their population to be as uneducated as possible. I find it ironic that a country with such a long history of xenophobia seems obsessed now with bringing in international students (like me!). Why the hell would you deny your own people the right to an education? It just doesn't make sense. Not that that's ever stopped any corporate toad before.

So there's another demonstration. This Thursday morning at 11.30. Be there or watch your education be pillaged by people who can't answer a simple question and instead of listening, just wait for their turn to speak.

Speaking of questions. I will be at Postgraduate Open Day. And I will have many questions. I'm not just showing up to start trouble either; I genuinely want to know how Sussex thinks it will bring in the best and brightest if it sacks so many of its staff and cuts courses. Michael Farthing claims that Sussex needs to have courses students "really want." So is that why Chinese was cancelled? You know, the language that over a BILLION people speak? One of the languages that's going to be hugely important in the coming years? As usual, management's rhetoric proves to be at odds with their behaviour.

Lots of things going on. School of English Society needs setting up. Stop the Cuts campaign continues in all its myriad forms. Full-time officer elections are next month. I've got to do some reading. More rabble-rousing to come.