Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How's the Air Inside the Old Main Bunker?

As regular readers of this blog know, Graham's been bloggin' his heart out over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, where he's been getting an earful in the comment section. But Graham doesn't seem to take feedback too well. One of his posts is an anthology of silly criticisms that he has received over the years and his most recent post laments the "noise" which is present in current public discourse.
It is the nature of educational institutions to have noise in the system. Discussion and debate are an essential part of university life. This contributes to the educational mission of higher education and has the power to shape intellectual discourse, ethical practices and civic participation. This can be exhilarating for those coming from academic roots but frustrating for others.


To some degree we have become a society of screamers. Just look at the cable network news shows. Each night two or more folks are put up on the screen, sometimes debating each other in orderly fashion, but more often interrupting each others, and occasionally being downright rude toward each other. We expect people — we even want people — to take extreme positions on issues. Are you pro or con? Left or right? With us or against us?

And Graham has stumbled on a way to filter out the noise emanating from comments on his blog. The staff in the Old Main Propaganda Shop has conveniently archived his CHE blog on the psu domain without the comments. This allows them to promote Graham's pompous, and often pointless, pontificating to faculty, staff and students without the worry which comes from these underling's exposure to alternative viewpoints.

But what about people that read his musing over at CHE, how can they be protected from the silliness and noise? Well, it looks like he's found a partial solution. The folks at CHE have placed a new warning on their comment form to the potentially silly or noisy commenters that their feedback may be purged. Here's a screen capture from a post as it appears today.

And here's a screen capture from the Google Cache of the post archived on December 1, 2008.

Well Dear Leader, I guess that shows us how much you appreciate the essential discussion and debate of university life.

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