I Come to Bury Disruption, Not to Praise It.

One of the fascinating things about language and popular discourse in the age of the internet is how quickly the cycle of expansion-to-repulsion occurs. It usually goes something like this: a word or phrase enters the popular vocabulary and quickly becomes a trendy, go-to word for the “smart set” (which was itself one of those phrases); moves into the mainstream, where it is appropriated for all sorts of purposes not related to its original meaning; and finally, after having reached peak cultural saturation, is banished to the land of annoying cliches, living out the rest of its existence on businessmens’ page-a-day calendars and motivational memes posted by your mom’s Facebook friends. The examples are legion: “take it to the next level”; “think outside of the box”; “at the end of the day”; anything with “silo”; “leverage” as a verb, not a noun—hell, “jump the shark” jumped the shark years ago. I propose we add another one to the pile. It’s a word that has not only become trite, but advocates for outcomes that range from irritating to disastrous. Ladies and Gentlemen: I hereby propose that we ban disrupt. BEGONE FOUL BUZZWORD

Continue reading “I Come to Bury Disruption, Not to Praise It.”

The Research Paper is Dead. Long Live the Research.

Why do we assign research papers?

My labors shall be a model for History majors for all time
My labors shall be a model for History majors for all time

We’ve all asked this question, usually at about one in the morning during the last week of classes when we’ve just found a conclusion cut and pasted from Wikipedia, or have written “Where’s your thesis?” in someone’s margin FOR THE ELEVENTY BILLIONTH TIME. It’s our common burden during grading season: we lug home a tote bag full of papers, put on a put of coffee, and begin to do hard time in Grading Jail. Some of the papers are brilliant examples of mature research and analysis, and some begin with “since the dawn of time, man has engaged in conflict, and nowhere was this more true than in the Spanish-American War.” Some of them show wide research, and some don’t. Some of them are well written,and some are a word salad of colloquialisms and faux-scholarly terms lifted willy-nilly from thesaurus.com. Continue reading “The Research Paper is Dead. Long Live the Research.”