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Lazy Virtues

Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia

Robert E. Cummings

Publication Year: 2009

Focusing largely on the controversial website Wikipedia, the author explores the challenges confronting teachers of college writing in the increasingly electronic and networked writing environments their students use every day. Rather than praising or condemning that site for its role as an encyclopedia, Cummings instead sees it as a site for online collaboration between writers and a way to garner audience for student writing. Applying an understanding of Commons-Based Peer Production theory, as developed by Yochai Benkler, this text is arranged around the following propositions: -- Commons-Based Peer Production is a novel economic phenomenon which informs our current teaching model and describes a method for making sense of future electronic developments. -- College writers are motivated to do their best work when they write for an authentic audience, external to the class. -- Writing for a networked knowledge community invites students to participate in making knowledge, rather than only consuming it. -- A plan for integrating networked writing for an external audience helps students understand the transition from high school to college writing. -- Allowing students to review and self-select points of entry into electronic discourse fosters "laziness," or a new work dynamic where writers seek to better understand their own creativity in terms of a project's demands. Lazy Virtues offers networked writing assignments to foster development of student writers by exposing them to the demands of professional audiences, asking them to identify and assess their own creative impulses in terms of a project's needs, and removing the writing teacher from the role of sole audience.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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Front Matter

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I give many thanks to Anita DeRouen, who helped me so much in conducting the focus group surveys. I owe a debt of gratitude to Christy Desmet for being such a patient mentor and telling me what I needed to hear—always in no uncertain terms. Steve Ramsay has my thanks for being a man who not only embodies an amazing passion ...

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pp. 1-10

Having picked up this book, there is a good chance you have heard of Wikipedia. And if you know anything about Wikipedia, chances are also strong that you fall into one of two groups: you are either curious about Wikipedia and want to learn more, or you are worried by it—or a particular aspect of it—and are looking for confirmation of those worries. ...

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1. Commons-Based Peer Production and the Composition Classroom

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pp. 11-52

Teachers of writing at the college level are confused as never before about what they should be teaching their writers. Most of the confusion results from the impact of information technology—and, more specifically, the Internet—on the lives of their students. These teachers get little support and guidance from their institutions and mentors on ...

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2. A Wikipedia Writing Assignment for the Composition Classroom

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pp. 53-87

What would a composition teacher who has never used a wiki and wants to try it need to know? The purpose of this chapter is to answer that question by providing a practical plan for incorporating wiki writing into the composition classroom. For teachers at the college level whose practice lies beyond the composition classroom, the last section of this ...

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3. CBPP in the Composition Classroom: Case Studies

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pp. 88-122

I taught two sections of first-year composition during the spring semester of 2005. In the fall I taught two more sections of first-year composition. All four courses incorporated wikis in the curriculum. In the Spring 2005 courses, I used a Wikipedia film page, “Memento,” as the basis for the assignment discussed in Chapter 2. ...

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4. Inserting CBPP into Composition and Rhetoric Theory

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pp. 123-161

How does “laziness” work? In Chapter 1, much of the focus on the economics of CBPP rested upon transaction theory. Transaction theory plays a fundamental role in examining the economics of the market model of production, the firm model, and CBPP. In economic theory, transaction costs are the price any economic entity (individual, firm, or otherwise) incurs for getting a product to market. ...

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5. The Origins of the Lazy Work Ethic and CBPP

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pp. 162-184

What caused “laziness” to develop? Will understanding the culture of its creation assist in determining its longevity and ultimate impact in writing instruction? Understanding the origins and contexts of “laziness” and CBPP requires an understanding of its most famous iteration—Linux, the open-source operating system that started the CBPP phenomenon. ...

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Conclusion: Digibabble Digested

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pp. 196-201

An otherwise prescient writer crafted a telling article in 1999 for Forbes ASAP magazine. The writer was Tom Wolfe, and the subject was nothing less broad than the Internet. There are bombasts aplenty in that article, but the one that is perhaps the most regrettable is “I hate to be the one who brings this news to the tribe, ...


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pp. 191-194


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pp. 195-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592521
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826516152
Print-ISBN-10: 0826516157

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 435528479
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Lazy Virtues

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Internet in education.
  • Internet publishing.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • Academic writing -- Study and teaching (Higher)
  • Wikipedia.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access