The Tragedy of Novelty

One of the great tragedies of academia is the notion (fostered by publish-or-perish combined with the belief that a dissertation MUST be some original contribution to knowledge) .. the notion that each scholar must come up with something totally knew and controversial. In trying to achieve these goals scholars try TOO hard and they come up with some unnatural observations or conclusions. One poor fellow on PBS, Charlie Rose, I think, wrote a book stating that the Internet must OF NECESSITY ruin the average intellect and that intellectual life was rosier BEFORE the advent of the Internet.

I took a moment to find
‘The Shallows’ by Nicholas Carr: The Internet warps you

http://www.usatoday.com/money/books/reviews/2010-06-21-shallows21_ST_N.htm

There was some 2nd century Bishop (perhaps Iranaeus) who did not trust the written word, believing that texts separated from their author might be twisted. I suppose Plato hints at something similar.

Well here we are with warehouses filled with books, the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, Androids, Kindles etc. and none of it is likely to go away in a hurry.

I fear that writers try so hard to come up with something new, provocative and controversial that they try TOO hard and arrive at conclusions which are impractical and ill-founded, and then we commence to drone upon our hypothesis ad nauseam. One example is “The Peter Principle” that we are promoted to our level of incompetence.

http://www.edge.org/discourse/carr_google.html

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