Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Technology

This is one of those "I'm an old man" type deals. I often have students who bring laptops to class to take notes or look at facebook with. It's caused me to reflect on how much things have changed since I was in college. Although most everybody had computers back then, nobody brought them to class. I had one friend who wrote his master's thesis on an old Mac Classic that for some reason couldn't save a word document unless it was less than 11 pages. So he had to stitch eight or nine ten-page documents together to make the entire thesis, and if he made changes to the first one, he had to go through and repaginate the rest of them manually. And I had another friend, in the dorms, who had one of these things--a Brother word processor. It had a 2-inch-tall green CRT screen, would allow you to save your document in an electronic file, and then literally type it out for you. It was really, really loud.

Things are a lot better now.

--Mr. Zero

24 comments:

Name Withheld said...

Dude, you're even older than me! Shit.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but just 'cause these kids bring their laptops to class doesn't mean they're tech savvy. A year ago I was teaching, and it came time for the class to look at a PDF I'd emailed them a couple days earlier. Everybody pulled up the document, but then I noticed one kid was turning his laptop sideways. I said, "Pete, what are you doing?! It looks like you're looking at porn." The kid didn't know how to rotate a PDF within Adobe. :)

Anonymous said...

Did you seriously reference looking at porn like that to a student?!? I'm sorry, but that seems totally inappropriate to me. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think we (as a community of philosophers) should let such a thing go.

(Maybe I'm still bitter that I was blatantly hit on by a member of an SC at the APA, but come on, that's just not right - even if he should have known how to rotate a pdf.)

Timothy said...

new thread for the PGR results!!

Threadjacker said...

I don't know where else I can possibly make this plea and have any hope of its being heard, so I'm making it here. Sorry for the distraction.
Some of us who interviewed at the APA are now starting to hyperventilate over the fact that we haven't heard back from schools. Would folks who have been granted on-campus interviews please, please, please update the wiki? According to the wiki, there has been virtually no activity on this front since last Friday. Maybe that's the reality, but it's kind of hard to believe. Please update the wiki. Please.

Adding Machine said...

My roommate that I had when I was a freshman had one of those Brother word processors the first semester. The thing was massive, but the screen was tiny. After the winter break, we both came back to the room with Mac Powerbooks, which seemed lightweight at the time. Last year I found mine in a box, and the thing weighs a ton compared to my current laptop! I don't think any of us honestly considered taking our computers to class because they were so heavy.

Speaking of heavy typing machinery:

Any student who shows up to one of my classes to take notes on an old Underwood typewriter gets an automatic A.

steve jobs said...

Don't forget about WordPerfect on the Apple ][e with a stack of pirated games. Re-live it here: http://www.virtualapple.org/

Anonymous said...

Dude ... I used to use a Brother word processor. You had to manually feed each sheet. Also, spell check (on a 8 page document) took over a half hour. It would have been faster if I had just looked them up.

juniorperson said...

Damn, you people are young! I HAND WROTE my Master's thesis.

Admittedly, I was the last person to do this at my school, but still.

Things picked up for my next degree--I got to pay someone with the rare and valuable skill of Tai Ping to produce it for me. On something called a "computer"....

PS: I'm an *assistant* professor...

Squid said...

Ah, the old Brother Word Processor. Try formatting a movie script on one of those bad boys.

I melted the case of mine the first day trying to get sticker glue off with some solvent.

What's wrong with talking about porn in a philosophy class?

Asstro said...

Anon 8:41:

Get real. What, exactly, is "just not right" with cracking a joke about porn? That it might embarrass the student? That it references porn? That it legitimates porn? That it introduces a discussion of pornography into the classroom in a non-analytical sense? That it implies that the student is masturbating? That it dispels the authority of the professor over the student?

What if anon 7:41 had said: "Pete, what's that?! Looks like a condom!" or "Pete, what are you doing?! Looks like you had a wild night last night!"

People look at porn. Men. Women. Students. Professors.

Cover your ankles, class. Queen Victoria is visiting.

Linda Lovelace said...

Anon 8:41: Please step off the self-righteous high-horse. I imagine that Anon 7:41 made the comment in a joking manner. In addition, why is such a joke inappropriate? Given the fact that our discipline is one that challenges doxa, why would we assume that the subject of pornography is 'totally inappropriate,' especially when it is a subject included in most Ethics readers? Would it have been equally inappropriate to use the word, "centerfold"? What if Anon 7:41 had said, "Pete, what are you doing? It looks like you're looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue"? Perhaps if Anon 7:41 had said, "Pete, what are you doing? It looks like you're looking at a diagram from Popular Mechanics!!!"?

It's not as if Anon 7:41 said, "Pete, what are you doing? You don't know how to rotate a .pdf? Why don't you stay after class and let me show you... I think you need some 'hands-on' assistance."

Also, perhaps Anon 7:41 was using such a comment as a segue into a lecture concerning the work of Linda Williams, Alan Soble or Andrea Dworkin. Of course, those authors might be considered 'totally inappropriate' by your standards too.

Anonymous said...

Threadjacker,

Those lucky enough to get on campus interviews aren't updating wiki because they don't need to look at it anymore. They're also not reading this blog. They've got better things to do, like prepare a job talk and what not. Only us losers still commenting on blogs.

Anonymous said...

Threadjacker,

I was contacted this week for a fly-out, and I updated, as did some others (not necessarily for the same job). Honestly, though, it's not unusual for this stage of the process to run well into February. Even if the department told you they'd contact people for campus visits by a certain date, the department often isn't in control of the process. That's important to bear in mind as one manages one's expectations.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:41,

No, I didn't "seriously" assert the student was looking at porn. It was phrased as a joke, and everyone in the room treated it as such, including the student in question. Obviously, there are classroom settings in which my remark would be risky, if not inappropriate. But, in this particular case, my rapport with the students was sufficient for the comment to be taken as intended.

As for your being hit on by an SC member at the APA, that is totally inappropriate, and I'm sorry that it happened. I just think it's a completely different issue from that of my remark to the student.

Anonymous said...

Okay, the criticism of the porn joke may have been a bit hasty, but seriously, I do think the appropriateness of that sort of humor is highly context-dependent and it's fine to point that out. From the original post, I assumed it was a man making the comment to a male student, which is pretty safe, hardy har. I could see certain female instructors getting away with the same joke. Just given gender dynamics, I think it could be a little uncomfortable all the way to wildly inappropriate M-F or F-M. (All of which, yes, is heterosexist, but that's another story.)

Anyhoo, I don't think any of us need to get up in arms - interpreting charitably, one way to read the whole exchange is "entertaining anecdote about the darn kids and their technology" versus "okay, but bear in mind the jokes we make with other grad students and profs may not fly PCwise with undergrads in the room"

Anonymous said...

Oh lord: I started with a Kaypro. Does anyone even know what those were? Better yet, does anyone know anyone who collects techo-antiques and might be in the market for a Kaypro?

On the wiki/what's happening front: we have scheduled interviews, but are also keeping some options open in case of major disaster (none of them works for us; we don't work for any of them). Also, the amount of work that goes into scheduling on-sites - while teaching, doing committee work, etc - tends to make SCs focus on the immediate upcoming days. Not that nayone intedns to neglect interviewees who are wiating to hear: it just takes a while to get things together on the other end.

Squid said...

Well sure, it's context dependent. If you're a creepy sexual predator saying things like that in class, that's one thing. But one would hope that a good instructor with a good rapport would be able to make "off-color" remarks and jokes in class. I do it all the time, and yes, sometimes it's about sex (but mostly it's about drugs). Because crackheads are just funny, and you can't seriously discuss On Liberty without talking about crack.
I don't really think it makes any difference if prof or student is M or F. Except in that creepy sexual predator case.

Clayton said...

Pedagogical question.

Do you think it's bad to ban laptops in the classroom?

It pisses me off to have kids facebooking in class and I can't think of any particularly good way of regulating this in larger classes except banning laptops entirely. Also, even if they aren't looking at facebook/juicycampus/porn/j crew catalogs, they just aren't engaged in discussion. It bugs me. I didn't throw away the best years of my life living in a fly-over state living off of discount refried beans to lecture at laptops. Am I alone on this one?

cogitated said...

Clayton: I banned laptops from classes. I just got sick of walking by and seeing them chatting, etc. while I was lecturing, so now it's on every syllabus.

Anonymous said...

Here is the real problem with the pornography comment--it gets things backward! If one has their laptop open in the normal way, then it is open in the same way that a magazine is when turned to look at a centerfold...

That is, I suppose, unless the person who made the original comment is too dumb to realize that it is a lot easier to turn the magazine sideways rather than turning one's head sideways...

Kevin Timpe said...

Clayton,

I too banned laptops after reading an interesting paper by a law professor on the topic. I still let students use them on review days, but the ban is part of my syllabi. I experienced no complaints, and a number of students thanked me for it.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1078740

Anonymous said...

Ok, here's a different reason for thinking that talking about porn in the classroom is bad. Indeed, it is a reason for thinking that introducing sexuality in the class in any way is inappropriate. But, it is only contingently bad. It is bad because only men can get away with it. Imagine a woman referencing sexuality in anything but the most academic way in a classroom setting. Women still aren't allowed to be sexual in the same way as men. So, us women are at a disadvantage in teaching when it comes to this sort of joke, and everyone knows that profs that are funny get better evaluations. What's a better way to get a cheap laugh than bawdy humor? So in a way, it's unfair if men get to use this sort of humor while us women are stuck without it.

Larry said...

That is something different withhow people took notes then. That's pretty old school but cool!