Thursday, November 17, 2005

Um, no, no, and definitely no

There is a new service that condenses classic works of literature into text messages, ostensibly so that students can "review" the books quickly and easily before exams. Why am I opposed to such a practice? Let me count the ways...

Well, we all know what happens with some students and the ever popular Cliff's Notes. (No, I won't provide you with a link to any Cliff's Notes because I don't approve of them) For those of you who don't know, Cliff's Notes condense the plot of major literary works, give some analysis, and some students have ended up copying them word for word on papers, exams, and reading the Notes instead of the book. Now, not only will we have students only reading text message condensations of books, we are going to have them spelling things on exams in text message-y ways.

For example, Hamlet's famous line: "To be or not to be, that is the question" becomes "2b? Nt2b? ???".

Sure, that won't annoy me much.

"Whilst some may argue that Dickens is really too big a morsel to be swallowed by text, the Great Inimitable himself began working life as a short hand writer," said Professor John Sutherland of University College London, who is backing the project.

"He would, I suspect have approved of the brevity if nothing else."

Yes, text messages are exactly like shorthand. Shorthand on crack, maybe. How would Dickens, Mr. I'm-So-Verbose-I-Can-Make-Opening-A-Door-Take-Two-Pages, approve of the brevity? I think he was championing against brevity in his books.

The professor has compressed entire plots and believes it offers immense educational opportunities.

Yes, I am sure it offers immense educational opportunities to his pocketbook. I don't know what offends me more, the fact that someone came up with this at all or the fact that one of the people involved in this project is a University professor.

So if you ask me 2b or Nt2b, I think I'll go with Nt2b.


christina said...

Definitely Nt2b! People just seem not to want to take the time to do anything anymore. Kind of reminds me of instant pudding or stuff that you can heat up in the microwave in 30 seconds. Just not the same.

Kat Coble said...

I swear it's just like Cocroach rapping Shakespeare on The Cosby Show. Some fool old man has got in his head that he has a hip new way to get the young peoples interested in the literature.

God save us from wanna-be-hip literary midlife crises.

Antonio said...

That’s so sad, Melusina... I like big books, great big books, with lots of pages, long and elaborated plots. I like to read those Dikens pages about oppening a door. A door, in Dickens books, is not just a door. We are not talking about a furniture catalogue, with openning doors instructions. That’s why I like Dostoievski, Tolstoy, etc. all of them bigger than life, with hundreds of pages, wich last days, and weeks, to read. That’s literature. I can’t believe a Professor can do that…

Vol Abroad said...

Dickens could probably use with some slimming down - given that all his stuff was originally serialised and he was paid by the word. (not exactly an incentive to be concise)

But txt nvls clasx - don't think so.

St. Caffeine said...

Amen, Mel. By the way, I stole this from you for today's rant. Thanks.

Kat Coble said...

Sorry to rain on everyone's parade, but

Dickens was not paid by the word.