The Weird Weird Weird world.

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!

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2 Comments on “The Weird Weird Weird world.”

  1. Paul says:

    “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.”

    I love that – I may have to quote you at some point 😉

    As for the Charlie Stross post, I agree wholeheartedly and I do think he was remarkably polite. As stross points out, no-one is an expert on space colonisation because no-one has colonised space. If the Numpty in question is unable to read an opinion and decide for himself whether or not he agrees with it then he really shouldn’t be wasting his – or anyone else’s – time trying to write essays.

    • antihippy says:

      Heh. Thanks Paul – feel free!

      What I am less proud of are the horrible typos in the rest of the post. Hope they’re all fixed now. That’ll teach me to type late at night when I am tired.

      What this numpty should have done is read the article – decide whether he agreed or not and then check other sources. I don’t think he realises that it will be enough to refer to Stross in his paper’s references and list him as an SF author. If questioned he should be able to defend himself or if not don’t use him. But, it seems, he has plenty of entitlement and not very much common sense.


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