Peter Troxler

…mostly online

Spin and the Beauty of Web 2.0

Spin is a term in physics and in journalism. I’m having an issue about the second meaning — in connection to an institution that mainly deals with the first.

But let me start at the start. I’m a regular reader of the news publications of some of the worlds most renown academic institutions. They are a great source of knowledge. And most of them a great source of concern — playing down issues civil society addresses regarding the ruthless quest for knowledge. Just as for bankers money is what they betray everyone for (I’m generalizing), so is the quest for knowledge and technological progress the blanket excuse for academics putting ethical standards just that little bit lower on their list of priorities.

The latest incident is much more low profile. It’s not about the quest for knowledge. It’s in the first place about innovation in university education. Two professors are presented bragging about their new approach to teaching: having students working on (real-world) projects, being promoted as the inventors of this radical idea.

I happen to know that a late colleague of said professors started such initiatives some twelve years ago — but he finds no mention in the article. Web 2.0 allows me to comment on the article, so I mention this obvious omission, citing the obituary this same university online paper published.

Today I get a reply from an editor, apologetic for the omission, claiming that the two professors indeed did mention their late colleague. And she informs me that she “just added” a mention of the late professor to the article…

It’s the beauty of Web 2.0, isn’t it.


Peter Troxler • August 11, 2009

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