I am in the middle of writing a quasi-paper about the nature of "knowing."
I am currently cleaning the shelves of the honors center, culling the stacks of donated books to make way for things that would be actually useful. We have been given a whole boatload of Freshman Comp books which outline "the one true way" for learning how to research, write, and think creatively.
This morning, I wrote a long response to Nicholas Carr's worries about the Web creating a hegemony of the amateur.
Now, looking at this pile of trash written by Ph.D. recepients, I know I don't have to worry that the Web gives us bad info sometimes. Frankly, the print world hasn't done any better.
Max Black talks about the importance of certifying ideas. We have for too long assumed that if something's printed, it's of a certain quality. That idea is an illusion; publishing is a social activity, and the market often surpresses good material. The Web doesn't bring us new problems with knowing truth. It just magnifies the challenges we have always had. The difference? The Web is young enough for us to realize the problems.
The Academic system has a similar problem: by making publication a requirement for tenure, the academic world is stamping its approval on mounds of drivel.
When I look at this pile of useless writing, I sigh and I silently resolve to not write junk, even if it means I don't get to play the academic game.