Friday, April 18, 2008

don't hire Chinua Achebe, hire Ewan

Ewan is indelibly linked to dog shit. Try as he might, he can not distance himself from a pile of dog feces. Times are tough for Ewan, but he isn't aware of his current plight.

But his father is. You see, his father took a moment the other night on the family computer to check up on his son.

Ewan's dad checked the history in the web browser.
All clear.

Ewan's dad took a peek at his son's Facebook.
Good to go.

Ewan's dad searched his son's name in Google.
Holy dog shit!

Turns out, the second link contained the following snippet:
Ewan points to the notion that art for art's sake is just another piece of deodorized dog shit.
Perturbed, Ewan's dad clicked the link, but finds himself staring at a new screen with a message that the site he is trying to access is private.

Ewan's father is furiously curious and curiously furious, and summons Ewan before him. Ewan explains that the private site is his English class wiki.
"Why are you using your full name?"

"I'm not. My teacher told us not to. My username is UinEnglish."

"Well, you clearly used your name in the wiki. I mean, that's how I found this."

"Dad, that doesn't make sense. Our teacher told us the site is private."

"Then tell me how I can search your name in Google and find this? What if someone else searched you in Google? What would they think if they saw your name and a sentence you wrote that claimed art is dog shit?"
The next day, Ewan's father contacts the English teacher. Sounding eerily similar to Will Richarson, Ewan's dad wants to know:
...what are you doing to help students shape their online portfolios so that when their future employers or future mates run the search, what they find is not just a lack of negatives but a potential plethora of positives?
The conversation is professional and calm. Resolutions and modifications begin to take shape.

Resolution / Modification #1 - Private isn't so private after all
The English class wiki is private, but it turns out that the content in the site isn't private/invisible to Google. And Ewan did use his full name when he added content to the Chinua Achebe Quote Analysis page. From now on, Ewan will continue to use his 'really clever' username whenever he posts to the wiki.

Resolution / Modification #2 - Be your own best editor

Ewan didn't say that art for art's sake is purified dog shit. Chinua Achebe did, but Ewan forget to add some really important punctuation; punctuation that would have illustrated that he was quoting Achebe.

Resolution / Modification #3 - Don't trust a snippet
The search results that came back from Google don't tell the whole picture. Even though Ewan forgot some much-needed punctuation, his next sentence stated:
When Chinua Achebe described art for art's sake as nothing more than waste, he de-values the same type of free expression that afforded him the opportunity to craft his writings.
Surely, no one, Ewan's father or a potential employer, would have an issue if more context had been visible.

Resolution / Modification #4 - Don't hire Chinua Achebe

1 comment:

Taylor said...

Nice post. First time I've heard a parent ask FOR more online portfolio-building.

"furiously curious and curiously furious" -- refreshingly hilarious!