by Professor Whyse
by Professor Whyse
After my student, Fron, ran to my office excitedly yesterday evening, saying the weblog was up, I eagerly followed him to the computer lab. Many of our students were gathered around the screen. They watched me connect to the “Internet”, open the “browser”, and type in the “address” of our weblog.1
I was dismayed. Where was the introduction that I had mailed to our webmaster two weeks ago? Only after I had mailed the introduction did Fron inform me that it would be faster to send it over the Internet. This is what I did for the second post. I typed it up and gave it to Fron, who told me with a frustrated look on his face that I was not supposed to type it with a typewriter, but a computer, or it would not get turned into bits to be sent over the Internet!
I had closed my eyes and told Fron, “Breathe. Is it right for you to be frustrated at your professor? Given how many times professors have patiently explained things to you while possibly harboring unspoken thoughts about your lack of intelligence, could you not return the favor?”
Fortunately, Fron is not Lisa, and was immediately chastised. He then proceeded to re-type the post and e-mail it. I believe Fron is a good student, even though he often gets caught in the spur of the moment. There is a reason that students in his year are called “sophomores.”
After some discussion, we realized why my second post was up but not the first. I had communicated to the webmaster that my post was not to be published until he had received the other post as well. Fron, however, being more versed in electronic mail, had e-mailed a post of his own, before my handwritten post had arrived, triggering the webmaster’s criterion to publish prematurely. Together we decided to email the webmaster to clear up the confusion, and apologize for the lack of an introductory post.
Our next topic of discussion was Fron’s post. “Of all the topics you could have weblogged about, why did you choose PHSS? And of all the wonderful shows we have on PHSS, why did you choose the unnamed radio hour? I find this narrowly focused article unrepresentative of our institution.”
“But professor, Dr. Drim told us in Creative Writing class that it is always better to be specific than general, and that we should write about what moves us emotionally, rather than what we feel like is ‘representative’. There is no one article that can be representative of Philosophocle, because Philosophocle is made of disparate parts. (Perhaps we should change our motto to ‘pinnacles of higher education’?) How can we have true cultural exchange if we only exchange the parts that are ‘representative’?”
I admitted that Fron had a point, and turned to the more pressing issue of the missing post. I suggested that the webmaster backdate the introductory post to be the first post. However, the webmaster informed me in the e-mail chat that he had not yet received the introductory post!
“Professor,” Fron said over my shoulder, “Backdating is something that the outside world does, usually for financial gain. We do not want to associate ourselves with that, do we?”
Once again I had to admit my student was right. It is uncertain when the introductory post will arrive. The webmaster has assured me he will put it up immediately after he receives it.
I feel like I am behind the times. After some bargaining, Fron has agreed to teach me the basics of computers2, in return for some tutoring in philosophy. I naturally agreed.
The use of such a familiar term around unfamiliar technology is comforting. I find the term “browser”, however, a misnomer, for it reminds me of the actions of zebras on the safari. Fron informed me that it is that other meaning of “browse” that is intended, namely, looking cursorily and non-seriously through documents. I object to this meaning because of its connotation: will foreign eyes look cursorily and non-seriously at the going-ons in our institution?↩
I told him that I had read a book on Computability Theory. However, he informed me that this was not relevant to actual computers.↩