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Constructing textbooks

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  1. Brittany says:

    I was eranuocged to comment here after disagreeing with the tweet mentioned in the article (it lives on as a retweet, evidently, months after its first appearance).I currently teach in the College of Media at the University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig in the field of electronic publishing and multimedia. Personally I am extensively engaged in new media, having blogged for years in various places and for a variety of purposes, among other Web 2.0ish activities. One of my main goals during my time here is to encourage students in Germany to become much more open to the possibilities presented by modern Web technologies. Germany, in general, is slower to adapt new technologies, something I used to mock but now find somewhat refreshing because it means questions get asked and discussed. But, in general, I am the furthest thing from a Luddite.My typical role is as a librarian in the United States. As such, I have a professional interest in the organization and dissemination of information. Of course I support the notion that all should have the right to choose whether or not they put their work out there for the world to see, but the implication of this post is that this should not be a choice, but an imperative. That goes too far.Personal choice matters a great deal. While some are comfortable–perhaps too comfortable–letting it all hang out on the Web, many people are not, or are at least highly selective about what they choose to share. I agree, to an extent, with the sentiment here, to the extent that students should understand these publishing platforms both from the creation and consumption sides in order to be capable of processing and filtering the information ocean. But to imply that it is time for everyone to publish everything removes any notions of personal choice from the equation.Think back to your own days as a student. I did some stellar work as a student, but would be mortified if even the better work were publicly available. Why? Because I was learning, and got better. I choose deliberately when to expose my writing or other creative work to the world, and this is a personal right and a good thing, to boot. Some of the work I did was crap, pure and simple, cranked out to get a grade and move on. That material has, thankfully, died a quiet death in some box or trashcan, and that is also a good thing.Believe me, librarians love to preserve everything, but even we understand the need for selectivity. Were one to amass everything just because it is there, we would have no ability to process it intellectually.So, yes, teach the tools and skills students need, by all means. I do this both here in Leipzig and in libraries. But advocating that we toss everything out there to exacerbate an already vexing overdose of information is a bit too enthusiastic, and tramples the notion that students take varying views about their work.