[EAS]The Sensible Web

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sun Aug 26 17:22:11 EDT 2001

Subject:   The Sensible Web

[Forwarded with permission. See my notes following.  --pjk]
Date: 8/26/2001 11:20 AM
To: pjk
From: plynch

Interesting article on how people use the Web these days, from the

I think these new, more sober, more utilitarian useage patterns are
good for sites (and organizations like well-known Ivy League
schools ;-) that are information-oriented, and that carry the
history, provenance, and trustworthiness of their institutions with
them onto the Web. It's certainly good news for well-established
health care providers. 

It may be disappointing that there aren't more rich sources of news
and perspectives on society than "the usual suspects," but then the
Web never changed the fundamental problem of content: there are
very few enterprises that can produce enough of it regularly to
sustain the interest of a broad audience, and even fewer sources
that consistently produce high-quality information.

I think less "unbearable lightness" would be a great thing for
digital media. Even novelty pales, if shallow novelty is all you
ever get from a medium.

Patrick J. Lynch, M.S.
Director of
Web Design and Development
Yale University School of Medicine
100 Church Street South, Suite 124, New Haven, CT 06519
(203) 737-5033
(203) 737-5034, fax
patrick.lynch at yale.edu


I'm passing on this email from Pat Lynch (with his permission). It
affirms a welcome settling into more sensible uses of the Web. 

One concern, though. A person quoted in the NYT article says

> "I'm also much more pointed in my Web use ­ I typically get some
> durn-fool notion in my head (like pursuing semiotic and cognitive
> issues in cartography), fire some queries into Google, and click
> until either the subject seems exhausted or I am."

This concerns me because it suggests a readership less
discriminating than would accord with Pat's comment about the small
subset of sources that "consistently produce high-quality
information." Less is more only when consistent with high quality.

Our age of infoglut imposes an ever more explicit responsibility on
educators--the main readership of this list. We must see to it that
our strengths as processors, evaluators and organizers take hold in
our students. We must help them develop the skeptical judgment to
find the "good stuff" on the Web. And we, and in turn they, must
see to its availability there over the long term. 

In a world that seems increasingly rootless, imlementing the wisdom
of knowing what our important resources are, and what we can do
without, is the difficult task of 'intellectual Web marketing' that
lies ahead for universities. Once it was assumed that only
face-to-face communities of teachers and students could pursue and
transmit knowledge. The present Web era requires a remaking of the
university into a larger, virtual presence in society.

     --Peter Kindlmann

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