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Supermarket Style Headlines

I love the Chronicle of Higher Education. Whenever I am low on ideas, they generate “stories” that are just begging for parody. I bet Tom feels the same way, there is never a shortage of Chronically Bad Articles to Lampoon.

This blog owes its seedy root to Cole’s post questioning the notion of “Google Wave as the Next CMS” emanating The Chron’s Article today. Could Google Wave Replace Course-Management Systems?

While lacking formal expertise in journalism (heck it does not stop them), really, this kind of “writing” is akin to the things I am subjected to waiting to pay for my groceries:

This is obviously a parody, eh? Of course Sweet Briar is not dumping their CMS, heck I don;t even know if they use Blackboard. .

This research this headline story is based on comes from a blog post by prof Steve Bragaw at Sweet Briar College. It is so short, I can quote it in its entirety:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed about getting a chance to try out google wave as a course management software””just from the initial look I think it will have all the features (and then some) for an all-in-one software platform for the classroom and beyond.

I also think it has tremendous potential as an internal organizational management tool.

More here from the NITLE blog

You can draw a direct line to the Chronicle’s casting of this story as

some college professors and administrators are more excited about Wave’s potential to be a course-management-system killer.

The Chronnies obviously did the detailed follow-up:

Mr. Bragaw admits he hasn’t used Google Wave himself…. But Google has posted an hour-long video demonstration of the system that drew quite a buzz when it was unveiled in May. That has sparked speculation of how Wave might be used.

Rock solid journalism, eh? Got a solid inside source– “Mr. Bragaw admits he hasn’t used Google Wave himself.”

In a related story, A janitor at Smelly Shoe College in East Bumsbury has foreseen a nuclear generator powered by potato peels. James Broom says, “Well, I have not done it yet, but I did see a video about a nuclear plant on the Discovery Channel,a nd I have this basement full of old potatoes.”

Can The Chronibull exist for any purpose but hoisting vapor thins stories and driving people to link to them? Is there any real difference from a tabloid except the aroma of academic affiliation?

The mere suggestion of Wave as a “CMS” killer is so full of holes you cannot even see the material. Wave is first of all not even fleshed out, but really- it is not a product– it is a new technology platform for communication, not a piece of software. It’s almost like saying “the HTTP protocol- is it the next CMS killer?”

Not even to mention that no one has done anything yet beyond watch the video, play with the messaging (well some intrepid developers are tinkering on the edges).

I’m just one or two days into my brief bits of Wave Play (thanks Google, the love came through!) but the thing is not looking at what it “replaces” or “kills” but more how, if it were to take a toe hold, how it might revolutionize (or undermine) our approaches to communication, information flow, etc. It is an entirely different model, structure for how dynamic content is broken out of containers like a CMS or software boxes. It is the real time web, whatever that is.

While I am excited about its potential, it seems such a mindset change for how people approach their information flow, that I’m a bit skeptical now that it will “kill” or “replace” anything.

The bigger story, IMHO, is how the developers of large enterprise systems are going to change their mindset as information gets smaler, more fleet, and aching to flow from here to there. Heck, now that might be a story worth covering, instead of giving us this cow pies painted with red candy paint stories the ChruniKull puts out.

But keep the good stuff coming, cause I always need stuff to make fun of. Thanks!

Note: My cheesy graphic was modeled loosely from the venerable Weekly World News cover found here and the pictures of the kid with the laptop is from the North Coast Journal.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I’m excited to use Wave to collect the materials of a course. It seems like it would be a useful way to comment collaboratively on readings, and just generally gather together content from many participants. I don’t really think it will be a “killer” of any particular piece of software, but I am looking forward to playing around with it.

    It seems one of Wave’s main strengths is how it could be embedded inside software easily, so it looks to me more as an enhancement than a replacement.

  2. Hilarious! I’m a big fan of the old “Ed Anger” column in the WWN.

    We use Moodle at SBC, not blackboard, but it will be interesting to see if wave gives a lot more flexibility. I’m an outlier, probably, because I don’t like moodle and don’t use the CMS for the same types of functions as most of my peers do (for example, I don’t do quizzes, so that feature is not a loss for me.)

    My hunch was based on two things: how the embedded function could be used to teach students in a dynamic fashion how to do effective research online, and whether the students would find to be more efficient and useful a CMS-like platform that lives closer to where they do most of their on-line work. One problem I’ve run into with traditional CMS is that many of the students want a single portal (not their words, but mine). I teach political science, and the embed function could prove to be a useful way to handle live events (like state of the union etc). The key words, though, are “might” and “could.” As the original post said, it remains to be seen.

    1. Thanks for your reply, Steve, and glad to hear you found some humor in my lampoon. I definitely did not want to paint you or Sweet Briar in the wrong light.

      I am with you on being upbeat about the wave potential, waiting to see how it pans out. There should be no reason why wave functionality cannot find its way into all sorts of platforms, but still consider it a radical change from the way we think of web content, because it is not “fixed”, it is always flowing. I’m also trying to think what happens when one has an influx of rather than 10 wave, like 100 or 1000 or when you get waves with hundreds of participants.

      We are living in one of those Chines curse “interesting” time

  3. Your funny parody points to something that has been puzzling me about Wave’s roll out, though – why did Google hype it so much? Or was it simply that they demo’d it at their developers meeting and the rest of the net hype’d it for them?

    I understand the need to mete out invitations to avoid technical issues on beta software, but they have the ‘Labs’ page which for years they have slowly leaked apps that have grown in use (or not, I guess) more ‘organically’ if you will, which seems important in Wave’s case, for, as a lot of people have noted, it’s pretty hard to use a *collaborative* tool without any of your regular network to collaborate with!

    Anyways, it strikes me that this odd roll-out/hype cycle has something to do with dumb stories like this one, and I just hope that it doesn’t end up causing a backlash at what could be a potentially useful technology.

  4. Alan—I printed the WWN parody and put it on my door (and it might have to live on in future photoshops for my site). I like your blog, and it’s interesting to find the whole community of instructional tech bloggers that I hadn’t really seen before.

  5. A couple of questions and thoughts. Thought: The 30-60somethings I know, who are regular ‘ol internet users don’t even exploit RSS. But maybe because what it does is too abstract. I’m thinking about the paradigm shift you mentioned, CogD.

    Ok I guess this is just one question and one thought, backwards.

    Question: I read an interesting post about PLEs and users’ abilities to mashup widgets in this widget infrastructure. What do you think about the idea of PLEs, whatever they end up looking like, and folks being able to even develop their own widgets for them? IGoogle sorta does that. read Tobias Nelkner

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