More on literacy

Yesterday I wrote about my need to have links in what I read so I can make my own decisions about the topic.  My friend John wrote that I could continue to look  to find the information — maybe even in a library!!   (John is a librarian, so he might be prejudiced!)

But John is right.  I could do that.  The information, unless it is totally fabricated, is out there somewhere.  And if I am truly interested (which I am), I can extend myself and find it.

But that isn’t the point, really.  At least not to me.

I teach academic writing.  I tell my students all the time that they have to cite sources.  They have to make it so anyone who wants to check their information can do so easily.  It is a struggle for some of them, but most do a decent job of it.

So why don’t we demand the same from adults who write?  Why are they/we exempted from that standard we set for our young people?  Do we only make students cite sources so we can believe they have done their research or do we really believe it is right to give credit to others and to make it easy for readers to follow our thinking back through our sources?

Following that train of thought is very important to me.

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2 thoughts on “More on literacy

  1. John Wylder says:

    There were no links to original sources because a radio news article has different conventions, goals, and audience than an academic article. News articles whether in print or broadcast, rely on oral interviews for their information; citing a source means giving the name of the person they talked to. And they did that.

    Reporters can even get away with not citing their source by name at all, “according to sources in the department.”

    As you know, and probably teach, different genres have different rules. Blogs and online writing are still new enough that the conventions aren’t formed yet, and even within the blogging world, there are different types of blogs with different types of rules forming, usually beginning with the style of offline writing they most resemble, or their writers are most familiar and comfortable with.

    I don’t mean to be argumentative. This conversation is just part of a vast conversation about the future of the Internet, with people, mostly academics like us, presenting different views, and the vast majority of writers not caring and doing whatever they want, anyway. And I suspect that, in the end, excluding specialized, professional areas of writing, these indifferent masses will be the ones to create the standards anyway.

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