Lots to talk about today, so I’ll try to keep it short.
I’ve had nearly two weeks to think about this return-to-blogging post. But I didn’t. Instead, I hung out on the beach with friends and family, paddled my canoe down the Clarion, and drank a
shitload fair amount of beer. But during moments of sobriety, here are a few items that tripped my trigger.
Media convergence and the iPhone. While the world suffered iPhone envy these past two weeks, the folks in our School of Journalism were checking out David Pogue‘s video blogs about it. If you haven’t seen these clips (here and here), take the time.
To see a columnist for the MSM embrace a new medium this way, you have to wonder what’s next in media convergence. Of course, if you read Pogue’s bio, you won’t find his stage presence at all surprising.
This ain’t your father’s journalism, boys and girls. But that is your father’s newspaper, the venerable New York Times. Do you think maybe Pogue was celebrating the Summer of Love anniversary in a magic bus somewhere? Far out, Dave!
Update: Our writing still sucks, and it’s getting worse. No, this isn’t a report on a new study, just a short rant from a near-suicidal writing coach. I tell you, if I had a gun, I might end my misery now, but… no wait, I do have a gun. So, never mind.
I try to limit my rants on bad writing, but it’s not easy, because the shit is everywhere. (I only use the ‘s’ word when I rant.) And guess what? The next class of freshman will arrive in about six weeks, and they’ll be less prepared than last year’s bunch. Arrrgh.
So long as our teenagers are left to choose MySpace and X-Box over Hemingway and Faulkner, it’s not gonna change. I’m 100% certain that Johnny can’t write because Johnny doesn’t read. So parents, read to your kids every day. Then take a baseball bat and smash the shit out of their Play Stations. And when you pass by, whack the TV, the DVR and the iPod. Then drag their butts to the library.
At Kent State we saw the decline in writing skills coming a decade ago. We answered with an entry-level (read: remedial) writing class, complete with grammar tutorials and punctuation drills. Pretty sad, but somebody’s gotta fix this mess, right?
Well, the class has helped some, but I still feel like the Dutch kid with his finger in the dike. One class, even two or three classes, can’t reverse 18 years of neglect by secondary schools and inattentive parents. Do your jobs, OK? Raise a writer.
Facebook is aging, but so are we all. My students aren’t pleased with many of the new applications on Facebook, or all that advertising. It means more messages on their news feeds, and more time frittered away in their online playground. Life’s tough, eh?
Students also aren’t happy that THEIR Facebook is now everyone’s Facebook. Since FB opened its pages to any and all comers, the site has become a lot more diverse. In the past two months, I’ve become Facebook “friends” with PR bloggers Kevin Dugan, Kami Huyse, Ed Lee, Paull Young, Luke Armour, Constantin Basturea, and the always beautiful and gracious Amanda Chapel. So my own little Facebook world got richer when they opened the site to those without “edu” addresses.
My advice to students: If you don’t want those massive news feeds, pare down your network. Start by deleting people you don’t know and those you never hear from. You’d be surprised how little most of those folks really mean to you and how little you’ll miss their updates. It’s like editing out noise. When the din subsides, you start to hear conversations. No one’s keeping score.
And if you’ll indulge me, the addiction to on-line social networks like FB is another reason Johnny can’t write. Neither can most of the folks in his network. But let’s not go there again.
ToughSledding up North. A few posts back I mentioned my son’s Trans-Arctic adventure. If you’re interested in following Chris on the expedition, you can check here for updates, which come in periodically (via satellite phone) from trip leader Jeremy Harrison. The expedition spent much of its first 100 miles skidding fully loaded canoes across the Arctic ice on the Hanbury River, just like sled dogs. What are you doing this summer?
We’re being hippies! This past weekend Sharon and I chaired the annual Sandy Lake Splash, the Independence Day celebration that’s been part of our little enclave for a half century. The theme was Flower Power: A Flashback to the Summer of Love. And it was seriously groovy. Hell, one retired resident even held a tie-dying party.
Feed your head, baby. Feed your head.