Article? What’s an Article?

For New Media, Social Media and Learning the week, I’ve been assigned to “Do some additional Googling in search of articles about educational uses of wikis.” We had a similar assignment last week, on the subject of educational blogging, and I was [only a little] surprised to find that none of the “articles” my classmates and I referenced had ever even been published on paper.

Not only are your traditional, peer-reviewed, scholarly journal “articles” few and far between [nothing is few and far between on the Internet] surprisingly difficult to track down online, they tend to be significantly longer, denser, boring-er, and [forgive me] uglier than many of the myriad alternatives egalitarian electronic self-publishing has wrought. Blog posts [and their often even more engaging comment threads], wiki “articles,” snips on newspaper and magazine sites [which may or may not be produced by the same people running the printed rags of the same names] and [gasp!] commercial websites often provide significantly more concise, engaging information than the sources I’ve been taught to search and cite since grade school. Perhaps even more significant, “articles” produced by my classmates in response to this assignment are now considered some of the most relevant Internet offerings on the subject.

In this brave new media world, what is an “article?”

In response to this vexing question, I did what any self-respecting 21st-century American would do. I google-d it.

“w-h-a-t-_-i-s-_-a-n-_-a-r-t-i-c-l-e-?”

And the oracle replied.

Based on the top four entries, I can conclude that an article is nonfictional prose forming an independent part of a publication” [or “a member of a small class of determiners that identify a noun’s definite or indefinite reference and new or given status] but more commonly “a page that has encyclopedic information on it” that must pass the “can you sleep there?” test.

Based on that, I think I’m covered.

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2 responses to “Article? What’s an Article?

  1. “I was [only a little] surprised to find that none of the ‘articles’ my classmates and I referenced had ever even been published on paper.” If you aren’t careful, you’ll find that you stop reading things printed on paper.

  2. My carefully honed design sense lets out a bloodcurdling shriek at such heresies!
    Of course, you’re right. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question for me: Are we learning to create for electronic interaction–learning to design for screens, learning how to design meaningfully rich content, learning to pay more than lip-service to usability etc. etc. because more people are accessing more of their data stream online, OR are more people tapping into more data, getting more information, doing more of their learning online because we’ve finally started paying attention to those issues…and the web isn’t quite such an ugly place?

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