Google Doc: Evidence of Addiction?

This past week’s experiment with Collaborative Remix Criticism on The People of Paper was strangely revealing about all of us. I do not think it is fair for me to try and argue whether or not the project was a success or failure; i think it was certainly beneficial for us, educational, and (my personal favorite) led to a lot of intelligent discussion. I do feel comfortable saying that if this were to happen again we would start out differently. Rather than an hour of nothing but the noise of furiously typing fingers, we should have come up with an overall plan. Still, as in the fashion of not wanting anything to be lost, I loved seeing the explosion of thoughts along with the intensity and pressure of the page refreshing a few times a minute – a bukkake of literary criticism, if you will.

When we discussed this is class and through the blog, many of us said that they felt it would be disrespectful to delete another person’s post. Although I understand the sentiment, I felt there was an implicit agreement to both write and edit freely “for the good of the collective.” I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about whether this was a matter of classroom respect and politics, or if it had more to do with the way we inherently value the word, all words, and fear the thought-oblivion of the delete key.

Are we polite, or are we information hoarding? Has our rejection of the constraints of high / low art led us to fear any thoughts being excluded? Even when we knew an idea we just, well, not that good, did we leave it floating away from more coherent arguments in hopes that it might make sense with something else later? I know I have certainly done this with my own arguments at times, but how irrational can we get? Is this really that different than a basement full of McDonald’s collectible glasses?

I’m torn between the wonderful plurality of thought in the finished Google document and my desire for ye olde academic essay. We have managed to be courteous and inclusive, but it has happened at the cost of coherence and effectiveness.

If we redid in a message board format, one where we could have the same feeling of anonymity granted by the Google doc, we could still have the vast plurality of thoughts, but it would at least be organized temporally and by different post headings. We could still easily link between threads, quote or rebut previous posts, and nothing would be lost. Then again, this solution seems like telling a smoker to switch to chewing snuff: the format gets rid of the smoke, but the addiction (to nicotine or info-hoarding) remains.


~ by hlrypngr on April 4, 2010.

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