The Weird Weird Weird world.Posted: July 10, 2011
I’ve just read this amusing post by Charles Stross. In summary a student has asked what his credentials are for writing about space science. Stross correctly points out that he’s a SF author and that’s about that. What’s weird is the student’s expectation that Stross should be qualified and be able to demonstrate those qualities. Here’s a quote of the most headscratching paragraph:
Your time is clearly very valuable, as you would rather argue with me over this than simply take a minute or two to state your credentials. Furthermore, I have no need to know the extent of your writings, I simply need to know if you are indeed certified to be considered a credible source on the topic. For instance, if your credible knowledge is on the topic of slaads and borrowing from George R. R. Martin, you are not considered a credible source on space colonization. So let me just ask you this, why should I believe your article has any rational basis, when for all I know now is your true expertise lies in the githyanki.
Mr Stross, I don’t know if you will ever read this post, but if you do, you have my sympathies.
I would be more surprised except this is the age of the Internet – or so everyone keeps telling me. We’ve managed to create the biggest information repository ever seen and what do we fill it with? Cats, Sex and a sense of entitlement. Information has become so ubiquitous that people expect it to be there as reliably as the sun rises in the morning. They expect, if they want to know something, that the information should always be there. And if it’s not, well this is the Age of the Internet… it should. I see it all the time.
I moderate a couple of online forums and we frequently see students asking questions about some paper they need answers on. Rather than do the research, students frequently turn up and ask some questions which amount to “I have a paper to write and I need you to supply the answers”. And so I understand Charles Stross’s grumpiness. If I were him then perhaps I would be even more direct but I suspect he has more patience.
The best description of the weird wide world in which we live is in this post by Neil Gaiman – taking fans apart for their… pushiness. Enjoy!