“Students who are living and learning with technologies that generate dynamic forms of content may find the current formalism and structure of scholarship and research to be static and “dead” as a way of collecting, analyzing and sharing results” (Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009).
Correct, except they forgot to include the “torture, sheer torture” part. A colleague informed me that she has just had the *privilege* of experiencing the “we’re doing this for you–it is the latest technology” speech at the dissertation formatting workshop this year. Dare I admit that I was comforted to hear that she also had to call on every ounce of willpower to restrain herself from walking out of the presentation on the spot.
It was explained to her that the dissertation formatting requirements were designed to ensure that all of her hard work would be preserved for posterity in *the* most state-of-the-art manner–microfiche. “Just think,” she was told, “if something were to happen to all of the computers, someone could still read what you write by candlelight!”
In the first place, if I am having to read by candlelight, I guarantee you that someone’s dissertation will NOT be my biggest concern at that moment. Secondly, have they ever READ a document stored on microfiche? It isn’t a pleasant experience even WITH the right kind of equipment. I, personally, view the speech as a desperate attempt to justify a refusal to adapt to new writing spaces. I don’t hear very many people still trying to convince me that a scroll in a cave is *the* best way to store my data, and I expect that this argument will eventually disappear in a similar fashion. But when I think of the meaningless hours I have spent on a task that has incredible potential to be rich and rewarding, but because of the way it has been framed has instead become nothing more than a meaningless hoop, it makes me physically ill. And to think, once I finish my revisions, I will theoretically have the authority to inflict the same torture on others! Woe to the student who comes to me eagerly anticipating conventions!
Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2009-Horizon-Report.pdf