Monday, July 31, 2006

casual text

"Know it All" in the July 31 issue has kind of overall structure that investigates the following: Wikipedia as "a system that does not favor the Ph.D. over the well-read fifteen-year-old." So there are lots of references to graduate education (as if it were the same in fields from philosophy to biology?) in the article. The absolutely funniest grad school jibe, though, is, "When I visited the [St. Petersburgh, FL Wikipedia] offices in March, the walls were bare, the furniture battered. With the addition of a dead plant, the suite could pass for a graduate-student-lounge." (38) But why the dashes-to-make-it-one-word? Is that supposed to make it funnier? Unneccesary, I think.

The list of usual suspects that mzn gave in the comments to my last post (not, after all, a list that the article's author Stacy Schiff created, but one that she quotes and one that appears on Wikipedia on Wikipedia) is funny too, and part of the same running gag.

I like that the article is both an argument about Wikipedia and a history of encylopedias . . . Schiff achieves a nice balance.

But I didn't care for the following, "the site embodies our newly casual relationship to the truth." (38) Since when? In the good old days (was that before or after witchburnings?) we had a more formal relationship to truth? Who did? Given the fact that she sort of answers these questions, maybe I'm just objecting to a very annoying use of "our" . . .

And is it at all true that Wikipedia "content must be both verifiable and previously published?" (39) I guess I mean, is it true that Wikipedia content is previously published? Schiff should have followed up on this, at least a via some offhand lists, because it actually seems to be at the heart of the "alma-matricidal" (39) theme. If Wikipedia is a "vanity press" (40) and attracts so many academics as writers, etc (which seems to the evidence of the profiles she includes) then it might actually be constructed out of a lot of info that's NOT published anywhere else; like in climate change example.

This might be the right opportunity to mention that I did not put the link to this blog on The New Yorker's Wikipedia entry. I don't even know who did. But thanks.

I also read "Holy Toledo" and parts (yes, anonymous Matt, just odd bits, as my attention came and went and the magazine sat on the coffee table) of "Castro's Last Battle" and "The Lobsterman" . . .

As for "the media poetry of the cocaine era" I just don't know what to say. Only this, Denby uses the word "landlubber" - does this make Tubbs and Crockett pirates?

Categories: , ,


Blogger mzn said...

I love that this blog is linked from wikipedia in the magazine's entry. Fantastic. And the "astonishingly loyal" part is good too. I mean, I don't find your loyalty astonishing but I like that someone used that phrase to describe you anyway.

11:36 PM  
Blogger zp said...

I like the use of "yet" . . . it lends a note of mystery, I think.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous tanklm said...

In my copy of the magazine, it says "graduate-student lounge" and not "graduate-student-lounge." Still interesting use of dashes but not nearly as weird as with dash between student and lounge.

11:29 AM  
Blogger zp said...


mine says graduate-student lounge too. there's an extra dash in there because the word student is split at the end of a line.

silly me.

but i'm not crazy about the graduate-student dash either. when graduate student appears (without the lounge) elsewhere in the article it has no dash.

but maybe that's the way it works.

2:42 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

The New Yorker : The Atlantic :: Deep Impact : Armageddon

3:30 PM  
Blogger zp said...

It seems the Onion is on the case too.
Someone blogged about it.

8:24 AM  
Blogger juniper pearl said...

"graduate student," in this case, is an adjectival phrase modifying the noun "lounge," and while hyphenating it is a bit stodgy, since no one would have been confused about the use or meaning, it's technically correct and in line with the new yorker's overall predilection for grammatical stodginess.

this concludes today's lesson.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do you feel about the new yorker's fact checking? wikipedia's fact checking? electronic fact checking in general?

12:05 PM  

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