Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: All your Trade are belong to us

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    but at least the terminally self-important Alan Jones has the decency not to affect drag-queen-heavy eyeliner.

    Joe: Thems fighting words, and hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned. :) As a dear drag queen friend of mine put it, there good bad taste and bad bad taste. Here's a fashion tip, boys, if you're going to do man-scara, the 'insomniac panda on drugs' look is dated.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Conversely, if a student makes up a reference in a paper to something like:
    Smyth et al, Journal of Applied Chronology, May 1973
    does the lecturer get sacked for not making a trip to the library to validate if the paper really exists?

    Go to the library to look up a paper? Where HAVE you been? Such things went web based years ago, just before you could get the actual papers as .pdf files without shifting your tush. Remember Universities are connected to the world and each other via big fat optical pipes and were when the hoi polloi thought dialup was the latest thing.

    Then there is the fact that if the lecturer is setting assignments on stuff they are competent in (radical idea I know) then a paper they don't know will ring automatic alarm bells (what have I missed?).

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Sure, if your essay is on the history of Southern Brazil, you wouldn't want to be using the encyclopedia as your source but, if as part of an essay on the rise of the populist left in that region, you wanted to refer briefly to the war with Paraguay* then why not?

    I honestly can't recall a single situation where I have ever contemplated referencing an encyclopedia in four years of uni. If the fact is important, someone somewhere will generally have written a paper/discussed it in a book; if the knowledge is that basic, i.e., "the war happened", then there's no point referencing it. That's not to say that you can't use an encyclopedia as a starting point, but by the time you're writing the essay, you should have better sources.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • davidamstalden,

    Personally, I'd vote for W(h)anganui in the Most Obviously Stupid Voters In New Zealand Championships. (Sorry Tauranga). Seriously, why would you want Laws as your Mayor? Why? God, why?

    New Plymouth • Since Mar 2008 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    Wikipedia seems singularly unsuitable for referencing simply because of its transient nature. You could reference it, and two weeks later the page might not say the same thing. Regardless of the quality of information, the mechanism doesn't lend itself to use in academic papers.

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    BitTorrent kindof makes it redundant, except for the six o'clock news.

    The six o'clock news is doing a stunning job at making itself redundant.

    As for The Listener, we still get it, but it's kind of paying for what we'd like the Listener to be, hoping that if we stick in there maybe it'll get better.

    So when does Public Address Magazine hit the shelves anyway?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    This threads discourse, has inspired me to postulate the encyclopedia.
    I myself have a BAA degree, that proves I didn't go to university. I went to a Polytechnic, but my graduating research essay was externally moderated and had to meet the normal standards.

    Right so now that we,v established my qualifications, I can say that anything go's in a bachelor of arts degree essay. I referenced This but then I was writing an essay about that.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    "I quite liked the star ratings given to films broadcast on tele in The Listener, for example.

    Where else do people look? Or have you all given up on the teev?"

    Well, Karen, my only advice is NOT to look in the DomPost film review section. Phillip Wakefield lost his remaining shreds of credibility last week when he gave the execrable 'The Da Vinci Code' a four star rating .. the film was even worse than the book, and that is quite something.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    SKY magazine (I got the dish for Maori TV - because that's the only way I can get Maori TV on the Coast.)

    That's pretty dear for a TV listing that last I looked didn't have the FTA channels in it.
    I'll stick with the Listener for the moment, at least half of it is still readable, and unlike most of the other TV listing magazines (TV Guide, Women's whatever) it doesn't leave me feeling dumber after having read it. Its still got a way lower percentage of stuff I skip right over than any given daily (or weekly) newspaper.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Terence W,

    I honestly can't recall a single situation where I have ever contemplated referencing an encyclopedia in four years of uni.

    I can, in my masters thesis. I needed simple background information about the two cities whose governance processes I was studying (founding date, for example). This information is not common knowledge so needed to be sourced. It also wasn't so central to my thesis that I felt the need to delve - in Portuguese - into any debates historians or demographers may have been having about the matter.

    No doubt I could have found the figures in someone else's paper on the actual topic I was studying, but would this really be a more reliable source? And did I really want to waste the time looking? When I had actual research to do.

    YesWeCanberra • Since Mar 2008 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wikipedia seems singularly unsuitable for referencing simply because of its transient nature. You could reference it, and two weeks later the page might not say the same thing. Regardless of the quality of information, the mechanism doesn't lend itself to use in academic papers.

    Yes, I think that's one of the obvious issues with it: it's a moving target.

    And it is specifically not supposed to be original research.

    OTOH, I don't agree with treating WP like the plague. As others have pointed out, a good article will be well referenced. And if we're not going to help kids tell a good WP article from a bad one, what are we expecting them to know in 2008?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And it is specifically not supposed to be original research.

    Indeed not, but the good ones have citations (with live links) up the wazoo. And if you've been in a tertiary institution for longer than a week and are still utterly clueless about critical assessment of research material... well, should you be there? Or is it time to start shopping around for a better class of institution?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Seriously, why would you want Laws as your Mayor?

    And I raise you John Banks. Twice.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Rachel Prosser,

    I've heard of lecturers setting assignments of either writing a Wikipedia page, or correcting an error.

    It has the plus of illustrating the potential unreliability of Wikipedia.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2008 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And I raise you John Banks. Twice.

    And for the first time in my life, I threw out my ballot papers and didn't vote either way for the Mayor and Council of the North Shore, the ARC or the Waitemata DHB. So, I guess, I'm not in a very good position to be quite so condescending towards those who did. And to be quite blunt, much as I dislike Banks and Laws their opponents were hardly spawned in the deep end of the gene pool.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • nic.wise,

    I may be a bit late on this, but isn't this EXACTLY what redaction is for? ie, the big black pen (or whatever is relevant in the digital age) crossing out bits which are too sensative or not 100% related?

    Sure, show a name - or a first name + first initial or something, but the rest of the details, on public documents, isn't on. If the defense NEEDS to know that info, they can request it with reason.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    One of my uni lecturers has announced that using Wikipedia as a reference means you will automatically fail the assigment.

    Poor form. Wiki is a perfectly acceptable starting point, although in my discipline, I would far rather they went to the excellent Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It's when they don't go any further than Wiki, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that I get a little upset. Like any good encyclopedia, it will give you a basic feel for the topic. But that's all.

    In any case, back in the day when I was doing my brief stint of lecturing, Wiki wasn't an issue, and these days, now that I'm a dilettante housewife, I'm just doing tinsy bits of lecturing and tutoring in other people's courses, so I don't get to set the rules anymore. I miss that.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I know lots of academics down here spit all over wikipedia, but would be quite happy to see a student use a traditional encyclopedia.

    Personally I think it's somewhat elitist. Yes wikipedia is more likely in many areas to be wrong, but if a student gets a correct fact from wikipedia and references it, what have they done wrong, as compared from getting the same fact from an encyclopedia printed 10 years ago?

    They'd be better to target areas where students get it wrong, and then say "this is why you shouldn't use wikipedia".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I think there are two senses of "reference" being used here:
    something you refer to for more information when you a learning about a topic, and something you cite in a scholarly work. Encyclopedias (with Terence's case as an exception) aren't generally suitable for the second role, especially Wikipedia, but they're just fine for getting you off the ground in the second.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I think there are two senses of "reference" being used here:
    something you refer to for more information when you a learning about a topic, and something you cite in a scholarly work.

    Yeah, I probably should have said "cite". After all, even the superhuman powers of university lecturers are not sufficient to determine that you read the Wiki article if you didn't put it in the bibliography or footnotes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    When I went to Polytech, I think something about quantitative research and qualitative, was mentioned.I lean toward the qualitative . There is definitely a place for Wikipedia, in my learning style, But I agree, it's only a starting point. Research, in my subject, isn't just academic style. This wiki article for example, leads to this Wiki article about Marshall McLuhan, that in turn leads me to a potentially useful bibliography. That then starts to provide useful authoritative documents splice in as evidence of having developed sufficient scholastic mana.

    To get hung up on pedantic academic writing style's, is so the mechanical age.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I think there are two senses of "reference" being used here:
    something you refer to for more information when you a learning about a topic, and something you cite in a scholarly work. Encyclopedias (with Terence's case as an exception) aren't generally suitable for the second role, especially Wikipedia

    Yes, although there could be exceptions. Say you're writing an essay in which you claim that Edgar Allan Poe was an influence on Jeff Noon, and during your research you notice that Wikipedia lists Poe among Noon's influences. You'd probably have to acknowledge that. There are all manners of connections that an encyclopaedia makes that are implicitly original and argumentative, as opposed to statements of fact.

    Wikipedia seems singularly unsuitable for referencing simply because of its transient nature. You could reference it, and two weeks later the page might not say the same thing.

    I can't see the problem there. There were dozens of Web references in my dissertation that disappeared or changed while I was still writing it - that's why you add a date to the footnote and cache the material.

    To get hung up on pedantic academic writing style's

    You were just baiting us, weren't you?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    You were just baiting us, weren't you?

    No, I'm serious, I'm an Artist (with an art degree) I'm dyslexic, I went to a state run alternative school, where I didn't get school certificate meaning I didn't learn to read and write to an adult level until I was in my late thirties. If I followed the normal linear thinking process's that prevail, I'd be in jail about now. I have an alternative point of view.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I have an alternative point of view.

    Okay, sorry, I honestly thought you were winding us up with the apostrophe thing. We ought to make allowances for people with dislexia, of course. But other than that if anything I think that academic writing style isn't pushed enough. I tutored in a second year uni film course where we weren't supposed to get too hung up on syntax, grammar and spelling; the unfortunate result was that I found myself having to assume that a student unable to string three sentences together might in fact be making a coherent argument, whereas those who wrote well enough to let it transpire that they had in fact no idea what they were on about didn't get such benefit of the doubt.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    I've heard of lecturers setting assignments of either writing a Wikipedia page, or correcting an error.

    I would make this compulsory at primary school level - writing something completely bogus but getting it formatted to look plausible. I still remember at that age reading in the British "Look and Learn" magazine that Maori had used kiwi skins for shields. That was news to me, since I'd never seen these shields in the museum or even in pictures. More surprising was the next bit, which said that nowdays (1970's) kiwi skins were used to make shoes and bags...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

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