Brighton professor bans Google
And don't even think about Wikipedia
The professor of media studies at the University of Brighton has had enough of students turning in "banal and mediocre work" and decided that Google and Wikipedia must go.
Tara Brabazon provides her students with a reading list, of books, and expects their work to reference those works, rather than a rehash of a Wikipedia entry or the top five results from Google. To achieve this she has, reportedly, banned her students using search engines and Wikipedia.
While we applaud her call for students to learn "the interpretative skills first before we teach them the technological skills", nothing offers a range of information to be interpreted better than a Google search.
Google told us, when questioned about the ban: "We believe that more knowledge is more power for people around the world. That's why we're committed to democratising access to information... One of the great advantages of the internet is that anyone can publish what they know."
We could point out that people publish what they think they know, regardless of the facts. Few of the inaccurate entries in Wikipedia are deliberate - the authors just believe themselves to be right in what they're saying. Drawing conclusions from a single media source is never a good idea, but if that media source is only fact-checked by the sick, the elderly and the under-employed, then it should form no more than a suggestion.
Wikipedia does accurately point out that Ms. Brabazon is currently gaining notoriety for her ban, though fails to connect that with her forthcoming public lecture on the subject in a way that only a cynical new-media publication would. ®
The Brabazon has been scrapped.
Irony, irony. Using Google to research a piece about books, I come across this story about Prof Brabazon, who wants her students only to read the printed word, and forget the net.
So Ms Brabazon rails against the present and wants people to use yesterday's technology.
At least she is aptly named. The Bristol Brabazon was a wonderful piece of British engineering. Airliner prototype. Wonderfully luxurious. Eight engines. Only one problem. They were attached to propellers. And there was this thing called the jet engine...
The Bristol Brabazon was scrapped. The Brighton Brabazon should be too.
PS. I'm reading a good book at present. I found it by reading reviews. I found the reviews by searching Google. Obliquely. Using terms unconnected with the title of the book.
Oblique connections, lateral thinking heteroglossia good. Monologic linear narrative bad.
Google. Last time I got the info i needed in the first 5 hits.
My Two Cents.
A couple of thoughts on reading these messages:
@ Robert Long
>There's almost no information on the Web so it's not a big deal.
>Seriously. People who think the web is a research tool are the ones
>who are out of touch.
I must be out of touch then. I'm studying Computer Science at the mo, so by the
reckoning of some here it's a "proper" degree. I have found information on the 'Net, and used it for projects which have scored quite well.
>This is another reason why employers will increasingly value (and pay for)
> hard science degrees where wikipedia can't really help much.
I was studying Computer Systems Architecture recently, and wished to find out more about chip architecture, so I started with Wikipedia using the phrase CPU.
This rather quickly lead me to information about pipelines, a method used for speeding up throughput. Having not read much about this yet I pasted the header for the page into Google on a new tab.
This is the page it sent me to.
The fifth entry on this page is for "stanford.edu" Yep, Stanford University.
O.K. so the first two hits went back to Wikipedia, the third to a management
strategies company, but hits four and five were universities.
My point is that Wikipedia is not the destination when researching, but it can
be quite handy as a first step to find other connected areas for further study.
@ Keith T
>Or was she put off when she was looking for info on Paris -- I got to page
>four on Google before finding anything about Greek mythology.
Understandable. But if you were looking for Greek mythology in a library
would you check the book list for anything that mentioned Paris and go to
every book in order until you found the information you sought?
I would pass on anything in the travel section, or foreign languages etc.
and add the term "Greek mythology" to my initial search. The same thing
works in Google.
Albeit the first link is one for Wikipedia, but all five of the top links are
Both Google and Wikipedia are useful, but not the end point of my research.