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Monday, February 25, 2008

An Observation

Cutting and pasting content is not the same thing as forming an opinion and articulating it.

5 comments:

Robin said...

I RELY on this fact for the day employers find my blog!

De Thezier said...

Dale Carrico:

Cutting and pasting content is not the same thing as forming an opinion and articulating it.

Although this is an obvious truth, what prompted you to share this observation?

I have strong opinions and can often be quite eloquent at articluting them but sometimes I 1) am frustrated by the fact that English is not my first language, 2) get tired of hearing myself, and/or 3) like to create awareness of the thought and work of academic scholars or social critics that I find many people are sadly ignorant of.

Dale Carrico said...

what prompted you to share this observation?

Something I saw somewhere.

Of course there's nothing wrong with quoting worthy ideas (with attribution) that deserve wider attention. Especially when one provides some of the personal and larger context and stakes of the question along with the quote. That is what an enormous amount of blogging is all about. I do this all the time myself, obviously.

But I am indeed interested in the context that makes a quote seem particularly salient or meaningful to the person who draws it to my attention, I am interested in an interlocutor's take on an idea.

One can cut and paste without much in the way of understanding, without selectivity, without providing any kind of track through the material to indicate the individual take that prompts the pasting.

I know people who post large pieces of articles in lieu of responding to direct questions that have been put to them -- and I find myself wondering, does every sentence in this excerpt speak equally to the question I put to my interlocutor, does she or he agree with everything the quoted material says and in the same measure? How can I know?

I know people who seem to think they demonstrate an expertise in a subject merely because they can pour out undigested torrents of pasted material on the topic from online. But of course anybody can fling feces on the wall and hope something sticks.

You write:

1) am frustrated by the fact that English is not my first language,

(I know native speakers of English incomparably less articulate in expressing themselves in English to whom this worry would never occur, so I hope this isn't a particularly strong worry of yours.) But it does seem to me that if one has real difficulties expressing one's original insights in a second language, that these same limitations are likely to bedevil the effectiveness of one's excerpting of the writing of others -- what nuances in the original is one failing to grasp that might skew altogether the sense to a native speaker of the quoted material, how does one quote selectively enough to convey only the content that matters and isn't such competence as much a sophisticated accomplishment of language-use as proposing original formulations in the first place?

2) get tired of hearing myself,

I don't get this at all. If you are tired of hearing yourself, confine your comments to things that actually matter to you. Hearing what you actually have to say on topics of concern to you is always more interesting than seeing you function as a conduit through which third parties have decontextualized texts batted about at one another.

and/or 3) like to create awareness of the thought and work of academic scholars or social critics that I find many people are sadly ignorant of.

The best way to do this is usually to provide readings and not just quotations of this thought and work for those who care about your opinions of things already.

All that said, just in case this is what you really are wondering... no, I didn't have you mind when I made this observation. Hint: I'm a teacher. Of students. Who are expected to learn things. And then to demonstrate their understanding in writing. 'Nuff said?

De Thezier said...

Dale Carrico said:

(I know native speakers of English incomparably less articulate in expressing themselves in English to whom this worry would never occur, so I hope this isn't a particularly strong worry of yours.) But it does seem to me that if one has real difficulties expressing one's original insights in a second language, that these same limitations are likely to bedevil the effectiveness of one's excerpting of the writing of others -- what nuances in the original is one failing to grasp that might skew altogether the sense to a native speaker of the quoted material, how does one quote selectively enough to convey only the content that matters and isn't such competence as much a sophisticated accomplishment of language-use as proposing original formulations in the first place?

Well, I've never had a problem grasping the nuances of English in general or the writings of others in English in particular. The issue for me is that my humility makes me recognize that some people will always be far more *eloquent* than I will ever be when they express themsveles in English, and that it's far more enjoyable to read them than my awkward rants.

I don't get this at all. If you are tired of hearing yourself, confine your comments to things that actually matter to you. Hearing what you actually have to say on topics of concern to you is always more interesting than seeing you function as a conduit through which third parties have decontextualized texts batted about at one another.

No. I meant to say that I get tired (and therefore assume people get tired) of reading my take on a given issue that I have expressed ad nauseum here and elsewhere so I think it's refreshing to read someone else's take which I generally or specifically agree with but that is expressed differently enough that it is worth quoting.

The best way to do this is usually to provide readings and not just quotations of this thought and work for those who care about your opinions of things already.

I usually do both.

All that said, just in case this is what you really are wondering... no, I didn't have you mind when I made this observation. Hint: I'm a teacher. Of students. Who are expected to learn things. And then to demonstrate their understanding in writing. 'Nuff said?

Yes. ;)

jfehlinger said...

> Cutting and pasting content is not the same thing as forming
> an opinion and articulating it.

Oh well, that lets me out of the game! ;->