We’re in Denial About the True Cost of a Twitter Implosion

The public disintegration of a platform that millions of people used every day has been painful to watch. Now that Google’s search results seem almost completely colonized by AI-generated crap, it will be harder for me to listen in on and learn from a wide range of everyday people sharing their opinions and talking to each other. Elon Musk’s platform may be hell, but it’s also where huge amounts of reputational and social wealth are invested. All of that is in peril. […] The jokey mood around Twitter’s failure right now may be a way to temporarily push aside the…

Meet Our Advisor: Dennis Jerz

“Journalism is an imperfect human activity done by biased people who have bills to pay and passions that drive them,” said Dennis Jerz, Seton Hill associate professor and advisor of The Setonian. “If you believe that your organization is the only pure organization that exists you are approaching journalism from a perspective that I just don’t think is the most productive.” —Setonian Online

i trained an ai chatbot on my childhood journal entries – so that i could engage in real-time dialogue with my “inner child”

I kept a journal from Feb 3 1983 (the day my freshman high school English teacher assigned a journal entry as homework) through about 1992 (when I was busy in grad school, though I did write long emails to my fiancee). As I was wrapping up my dissertation, I started blogging in 1999. At no point in my life did I write the kind of free-flowing personal musings that I imagine would help an AI bot let you converse with your younger self. This is a fascinating experiment in time travel. i kept diaries for about 10+ years of my…

AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about (opinion)

After reviewing 22 AI essays I asked my students to create, I can tell you confidently that AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about. The technology just isn’t there, and I doubt it will be anytime soon. […] The students in this class were mostly juniors and seniors, and many were majors in rhetoric and writing. They did great work, putting in a lot of effort. But, in the end, the essays they turned in were not good. If I had believed these were genuine student essays, the very best would have earned somewhere around a C or C-minus. They…

I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say. – The Boston Globe

What a storyteller. Boston Globe journalist Jack Thomas, who wrote about his impending death a few months ago, made me laugh out loud several times in this touching essay. Very powerful. He was 83. I’ve had the privilege of having spent more than 60 years working for newspapers. There was not a day when it wasn’t a pleasure to go to work. Any doubts I had about newspapering as a career were dissolved on my paper route one Friday night in March 1953. I picked up my bundle of 45 copies of the Record that were tossed from a truck…

Between static hand-coded HTML pages and modern content-management systems, there used to be a wonderful bazaar of “mildly dynamic” websites

When I started my blog in 1999 (by adding a date to a “Link of the Day” archive I had been maintaining for a year or so), I coded everything in HTML, by hand.  This was before Facebook, before YouTube, before Wikipedia, and around the time that the domain google.com first went live. Most of the content on the Internet was hand-coded HTML, and instead of search engines, you would click your way through a hand-coded catalog — Arts -> Music -> Classical -> Mozart -> [scroll through a long list] This was perfectly normal, because it’s how libraries organized…

The Lost Art of Paste-Up

When I started using a word processor as a middle schooler in the early 1980s, I recognized the editing commands “cut” and “paste” as metaphors.  Here’s a short video showing the physical cutting and pasting that was required to arrange paragraphs of text prepare a document for mass production. According to layout rules, you’re not supposed to end a line with just a single word at the end of a paragraph, and you’re not supposed to break up a paragraph so that a single line from that paragraph begins or ends a column.  Note that this editor actually shaves slivers…

Another social media post attacks journalists for doing their jobs — Updated Elijah McClain autopsy

If you’ve been following the sad story of Elijah McClain, a Black man who went into cardiac arrest and died in police custody in a Denver suburb in 2019 (after telling the officers who were arresting them that he was unarmed, that he doesn’t even kill flies, and that he loved them) you might know that Colorado Public Radio and several other news organizations took the local coroner’s office to court in order to gain access to an updated autopsy report that specifies the role played by forceful restraint and the ketamine that was injected into McClain during the incident.…

‘I saw the possibility of what could be done – so I did it’: revolutionary video game The Hobbit turns 40

.. Realising that statistics wasn’t for her, Megler answered a newspaper advert for a part-time programming job at a local software company called Melbourne House. It was 1980, and she was halfway through a course that focused on designing operating systems and developing programming languages. “The day I was hired, the first thing my boss said to me was, ‘write the best adventure game ever,’” she remembers. The eventual result of this instruction was The Hobbit, a landmark 1982 text adventure game that’s still fondly remembered today. Though the 20-year-old didn’t have a lot of experience with video games, she’d…

Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive

When I used to teach a “Media and Culture” class, I had students do an oral project, a handwriting project, a typewriter/cut-and-paste project, and a digital project, and we spent quite a bit of time reading and talking about how the ways we read and write affect not only what we read and write about, but also how we conceptualize the world and our place in it. I do remember  a time about 16 years ago when I overheard a student in the hallway, during some good-natured teasing banter, saying to a colleague, “Email is for old people.” That was…

1

Advice to First Year College Students on Freshman Comp

Full disclosure… I have marked AP English tests maybe a half dozen times. The pay is not great, but it’s good professional development because it helps me normalize my expectations. Having said that… One of the hallmarks of growing sophistication as a writer is seeing the idea you thought you were expressing change in front of your eyes as you are writing. This is high-level critical thinking. This kind of emergent rethinking is an experience that every college-level writer should be familiar with, and if it happens while drafting a response for the AP English Language and Composition exam, it…

2

Can AI write good novels?

I expect that this is probably the year I’ll need to consider how my profession will change if students start relying on AI writing software. Like many people in my social media feed, this summer I’ve been playing a bit with AI image software, and thinking about how all the photographers and artists whose work is being sampled and remixed, without compensation or credit, to supply a commodity that serves someone else’s needs. “Julia was twenty-six years old… and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly…

What Jonson meant by Shakespeare’s “small Latin and less Greek”

Jonson famously eulogized Shakespeare thus:     For if I thought my judgment were of years I should commit thee surely with thy peers, And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine, Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe’s mighty line. And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek, From thence to honor thee I would not seek For names, but call forth thund’ring Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles to us…   The apparent dig “though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek” is, according to Tom Moran, a hypothetical, akin to the King James translation of 1 Corinthians 13:1: “Though…

Ambiguous language in journalism: Monkey Pox and Camel Privates

Amazing lead: A veterinarian prescribed antibiotics Monday for a camel that lives behind an Iberville Parish truck stop after a Florida woman told law officers she bit the 600-pound animal’s genitalia after it sat on her when she and her husband entered its enclosure to retrieve their deaf dog. —Yousssef Rddad, The Advocate Note that this lead emphasizes the news — the most recent detail is the fact that the biting victim has received treatment for an incident that occurred earlier. Because journalism emphasizes recent events, this lead properly emphasizes the treatment that followed the incident, but in this long…

Masked, vaxxed, and settling in to watch live theater

Barebones is a little black box theater, but it fits a fantastic set and some effective practical effects. (It’s based on a Stephen King novel, so bear that in mind.) The battle of wits between complex characters who don’t make the kind of dumb mistakes that people make in horror movies was just thrilling. Great acting and direction. And the soundtrack of 80s hits and story-appropriate oldies was just perfect. The lightning punctuating the events was perfectly timed, the costumes, the props, everything intimate and credible, down to the animal doorstop and the crucifix on the wall.