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TSE  December 2004

TSE December 2004

Subject:

Re: (OT) Internet : an overkill ?

From:

Vishvesh Obla <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Tue, 21 Dec 2004 07:00:06 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (240 lines)

George,

I really don’t mind your name calling.  I am not so
naďve as to think what I write would fetch me
bouquets, and not brickbats ! I don’t want bouquets
either.  So, please go ahead.  I would only be
interested in what you are saying and see if I can
find anything substantial to me.  But please don’t
assume that I am throwing a flame-bait.

But then let me make some clarifications as well.  My
point was not focused on the syntactical aspects alone
of our writing, which is the worst affected by
software tools and the internet.  Ms.Nancy gave a good
example.  I am sure it must be a nightmare to any
teacher today.  Microsoft word has its own programmed
logic of American English grammar and would flash an
error for many perfect sentences.  Not to mention that
you can ever develop a style of your own creative
writing with sentences, for example, that need not
necessarily have a subject.  Students in the US from
fifth grade onwards use some word processing tool and
never bother to look at how sentences are constructed,
just as most of them never bother to use a simple
logical faculty of arithmetic and would prefer to tap
a calculating machine today, even for simple
calculations as, say a 8% interest on a $25 payment !
Ironically, students and the generality of the masses
(a cashier, for instance) fare much better on these
aspects in third world countries !   When you are used
to such mechanical devices from a tender age, what
kind of quality in writing could you expect?  I am
also in the software industry, though not so long as
you have been, but then I don’t defend or find fault
with it just for the sake of satisfying any personal
desire to do so.

When the associated technological development of word
processing by its programmed reasoning has a major
role even in vital matters as constructing a sentence
which gets its life, not just by the syntactical
factors, but by the power of ‘the things of the mind’,
as Mathew Arnold would put it in the generality of the
masses from a tender age, I think I have enough
reasons to question the possibility of any quality of
writing in general.

That being said, I do agree that the reasons for
sloppy writing, if we believe that writing is so
today, cannot be solely attributed to the internet.  I
didn’t say so either.  My argument was based on two
factors:

1.      The value of our reading is directly proportional
to the efforts we take for it.

2.      A discipline for reading presupposes a sacrifice
that is related with such efforts.

Based on the above, I find that the internet has
played a major role by its over-abundance of
‘material’ or rather ‘information’ that one who has
access to it could easily lose hold in what one ought
to perceive from his reading habits.  I hope you
wouldn’t ask me what capacity I have to determine what
one ‘ought to perceive’.  For I am assuming  that we
are here involved in a study where we seek for
something more than ‘information’.   I would
appreciate if you could argue further in that line,
instead of making vague references to ‘elitist’ views.
 I don’t mind to be called one, when Eliot himself has
been called so!   For, I know when you make a
statement with an issue as that, it is general
tendency to look at all the associated details of it
and harp on them, forgetting conveniently the crux of
it!

- vishvesh

--- George Carless <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> > Well, on namecalling, I do not recall anyone
> (certainly not me)
> > "claim[ing] in a loud voice that they are the
> downfall of civilization."
> >  That is another form of namecalling or at least
> ad hominem/ad feminem.
>
> I have perhaps extrapolated or exaggerated too far,
> but I was not
> suggesting that you had made such a claim--but I
> hope you would not
> mistake my hyperbole for a direct quotation.  This
> is a matter of style,
> and if I do exaggerate the literal sense of what
> Vishvesh has said then
> it is because I have seen his line of reasoning time
> and again, and
> because I do think it's an incorrect and a rather
> foolish view.  Again,
> I do not for a second believe or argue that grammar
> is unimportant, and
> nor that syntax and style can be policed by
> software.  But I simply do
> not agree with the assertion that the Internet, or
> software, or indeed
> any modern technology, can be blamed for whatever
> increase in 'sloppy
> writing' that you may have observed.  Now, I
> admittedly do not have the
> experience to say categorically that there has *not*
> been an increase in
> such sloppy writing as a result of technology--I'm
> quite fully within
> the system that I defend, having been using
> computers for most of my
> life, since the early 80s; nonetheless, I do feel
> that there is
> sufficient evidence out there, for those who care to
> look for it, that
> standards have not fallen across the board; or that
> if they have, this
> decline cannot be attributed simply to 'technology'
> or to 'the
> Internet'.
>
> Again, I believe that the only people who will
> believe that 'checkers'
> do "encourage the assumption that one need not learn
> any syntax or
> style" are those who would not otherwise have made
> the effort *to* learn
> syntax and style.  There are many such people, but I
> suspect that there
> always were.  You may well have a point about
> teaching of English,
> though--for my part, I don't recall ever having been
> taught anything
> much about grammar or style or syntax or anything
> much beyond a few
> simple rules that could and invariably should be
> broken under many
> circumstances; but I agree with you that
> understanding of these things
> can perhaps only be gained by reading and by
> learning from the best, and
> from developing a love of language.  And I do think
> that this is an area
> in which the Internet has a great deal to offer: I
> would argue that we
> have never before had such access to such a wide
> range of intelligent
> opinions, analyses, deconstructions, explanations,
> definitions.  We do
> need to be vigilant, of course, to separate the
> wheat from the chaff--
> but again, I think that the Internet will mature to
> the point where the
> good writing, the good information, will rise to the
> surface while the
> dross will sink.
>
> But if students have read less, perhaps their
> education--or, present
> company (of course!) excepted, their educators--are
> to fault, rather
> than technology.  Or perhaps they are expected to
> read the wrong things,
> or in the wrong way.  It may be that new technology
> demands a new
> approach to learning--but this does not mean that
> the new technology is
> intrinsitcally bad.
>
> Now, I grant you that people do seem to like to
> butcher perfectly good
> words, or to abuse the apostrophe.  But are you
> certain that it wasn't
> always thus, only we never realized because people
> were not able to be
> heard?  I do understand, Nancy, that you are, as a
> professor, in a
> better position than I am to observe this kind of
> change, but I also do
> wonder whether you can so certainly say that this
> kind of change is
> wholly because of 'grammar checkers' or the Internet
> or whatever else.
> I also wonder whether all traditional standards for
> literacy etc. still
> hold true: might it not be that there are more
> well-educated, literate
> people who are simply not following the traditional
> academic routes and
> who are therefore not entering your radar, so to
> speak?
>
> I am perhaps too young and too inexperienced to
> speak with authority in
> this area, but I do feel that it has always been the
> way for the older
> people to believe that the younger people are more
> stupid, less
> well-informed, more lazy, than were previous
> generations.  I dare say
> that I shall before long start to view things the
> same way (and I
> already tend to think that the kids' music today is
> generally fairly
> dreadful), but I will try to remember that there's
> always a larger
> picture.  I think that's the case when it comes to
> the Internet and to
> new techology.  It may even be true that the highest
> standards are
> dropping; but are not the lowest standards perhaps
> being raised?  Again,
> I think that what Vishvesh is looking for is an
> elite, select few who
> can write brilliantly while the masses can write
> barely at all.  What I
> think can be worked towards, with the help of
> software where necessary,
> is a masses that can write reasonably--and a select
> few that can still
> write brilliantly.
>
> I have, however, had quite a few glasses of wine and
> so am probably
> rambling incoherently.
>
> Cheers,
> --George
>


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