Ars Technica on Academic Web 2.0

Web 2.0… The foul urgency of capital colonising the future with its iterative technonsense is about as fun listening to the ignorant middle-classes discussing backyard renovations. Ars Technica has a report on a report on the obvious incompatability Web 2.0 with the scholarly practice.

Two reasons why the hype-machine of Web 2.0 will not work at a university level:

1) Temporality. Temporality of pedagogy (let alone research) requires preparation, reflection, movement, returning, difference, and feedback (from peers or teacher/mentors). Temporality of the administration of pedagogy seeks to restrict and curtail actual pedagogical activities; so it is not a question of “Learn this!” but “Learn this by this time!” Temporality of the students’ respective lives needs to be able to be separated from the 24/7 always-online education institution. It is fine for PhD students to always be working, but undergrads need to have some fun. Mobile content delivery to mobile phones sounds ‘liberating’ but it seems to me to be more likely to encourage too much contact.

2) Materiality of ideas. The architecture of the database is good for quick access of information, but it is terrible for following the material traces of ideas and between ideas as they are thought and expressed as a concerted labour. For example, after the first couple of chapters Sedgewick’s _Between Men_ is so divorced from reality as to be rendered almost useless. It is only ‘almost’ because it does enable a reader to think about what she argues in the context of actual examples. To understand the full import of her book means understanding the context in which the book was written, and what comes after. This could all be represented in a simple timeline, but the timeline as well as the database effaces the materiality of ideas. When students are forced to go into libraries and find books, and read and reread them, the distance between ideas and the minor-conceptual revolutions that books like _Between Men_ produced can be better understood.