Bryan Alexander

Bryan Alexander

The fourth speaker in the Davies Forum Series was Bryan Alexander, Director of Research for NITLE.

What I liked most about Bryan's talk was his discussion of Wikis in an academic context. Basically, he laid out the following formula.

According to most academics:
wiki = BAD
collaborative writing = GOOD

The part of the equation hidden to most academics?
wiki = collaborative writing
(which, for those who have lost track, means that BAD = GOOD, which we all know to be a logical fallacy)

Does it make any sense? No! And that's the whole point.

This part of the talk rang true for me because I actually had a professor who, on the first day of the semester, made a point of telling us that wikipedia should never be used as a reference in any of our academic writing. Period. There was no discussion about telling a good wikipedia entry from a bad one, nor about how wikipedia can be used to find sources on certain subjects (just see what the author of the entry cited), nor about (as Bryan mentioned) looking at the discussion page to see the debate about the content of the article. Just the emphatic and all-too-typical, "Don't use it!"

I also have a habit of writing interesting quotes verbatim in the margins of my notebooks. Here are the entries for Bryan:
"...piece-of-cake pedagogy" (I don't remember what in reference to, but it has a nice ring)

"Moose don't chew on it - which is good." (on his method of obtaining an internet connection in the Vermont mountains)

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