Sunday, March 19, 2006


Stuff I've Been Reading

Old skool web log time... have a few links that have caught my attention over the last couple of days whilst spending too much time reading and not enough sleeping.

First up a report about how students 'admit copying essays'. The part that caught my attention was "one in three admitting to copying ideas - rather than the exact words - from books or online sources." I assume I'm missing something, because in my day gathering ideas from various sources then writing about them was a legitimate way of writing an essay, not "a greyer area of potential cheating". Should I be returning my degree?

I got rather distracted by ID and privacy related shenanigans. I was astounded to read that ID cards 'could use Pin numbers'. I'm not happy about the intention to collect and store my biometric data, but to collect and store it and then use a PIN as security is nonsensical. I know, I really shouldn't be surprised....

I stumbled across some articles that I missed last year about how the DVLA database details have been sold to criminals. Only criminals with a reason for requesting them though, so that's OK. Let's not think about what would happen if it was the 50 odd pieces of information on the ID database rather than the limited set held by the DVLA.

To get my privacy hackles well and truly raised I also read about how the state plans to put your bedroom online. I don't know what to make of this. If council tax inspectors tried to take photos of the interior of my house to publish I think I'd have to play a little and print out obscene words and paste them round the walls.

On a slight tangent Freedom to tinker reports on how the powers-that-be in the music industry have objected to a proposal that would let people break DRM that "threatens critical infrastructure and endangers lives." Oh my. I'm reminded of a comment in this weeks NTK
"big media is a bit like pre-invasion Iraq - famously dictatorial, sitting on a vast stockpile of desirable resources - making it the duty of all right-thinking web-users (or "second superpower", if you will) to liberate these resources purely by force of technological superiority, despite the lack of any clear plan for what the old regime ought to be replaced with."


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Re: the copying thing.

The problem is that a lot of students will get their ideas from online sources and pass them off as their own, trying not to think or do any work. It's fine if you check websites to make sure your idea isn't completely off track, to get a grip on a subject, or to find material to write about (ie, analysing the website itself or responding to those comments).

But most of the problems I see with this are from students who don't want to think about anything and try to claim that something someone else said or thought is their own original idea. That's plagarism. It's one thing to get ideas from sources and then run with them, it's entirely another to claim that those ideas are your finished thoughts and conclusions. They're not, and saying that someone else's work is your own original stuff is plagarism.

This is one of my pet peeves. I get students all the time who say "but, I changed the words around -- why do I still have to cite it?" Well, because someone else did this work and you need to give them credit for it.
Ahh... I *was* missing something! Thank you.

I couldn't see what the report was getting at; I hadn't contemplated the possibility that students wouldn't credit the various sources, I just thought "I gathered ideas from all over the place when I wrote essays". I even cited Frank Zappa in my dissertation after a particularly insightful late night session :)

Ooof, thinking about it that must be an utter bugger to spot.
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