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To better enhance the academic discourse

January 9, 2010

I will, starting this weekend, be posting a weekly round-up of notes from the lectures I attend – with permission, of course. One part of these notes will be much more prolific than the other, because of different professors’ varying rules about computers in class. For lectures in which I take notes on paper, I will be posting scanned images of my notebook; my margins are far too colorful and exciting not to, of course.

I’ll be doing this for a number of reasons:
1. My good friend and colleague Joey managed to get food poisoning on the second day of class, and it turned out to be quite handy that I had taken very detailed lecture notes interspersed with my own extracurricular commentary. If another of my peers is not able to attend a lecture, or if one of my peers cannot enroll in one of my classes but is interested in the topic, this will be an easy and dynamic way to share my class experience.
2. I’m kind of obsessive about archiving things, and posting my notes publicly online will enable me to organize them and access them from any computer.
3. The blog enables interested parties to comment upon and discuss the material more freely without taking up class time, and could prove as a community sounding board for ideas and questions.
4. My classes this quarter are awesome.
5. The weekly commitment will encourage me to take consistent, detailed, thoughtful notes when I might otherwise allow myself to become distracted or complacent.

A few points on my methodology:
1. Not everything I write down when I’m taking notes is necessarily a direct quote or even paraphrase of the professor’s lecture. I’ll include questions that I have (when I don’t feel they’re worth interrupting the lecture for, or when I want to look them up later), astute contributions to the discussion from my classmates, hi-larious asides or puns, ideas for later paper topics I could explore, and ways in which one lecture might connect thematically to another class I’m taking or have taken.
2. Not everything I include will be appropriate for all ages, nor will the tone be especially formal or professional. The university is an adult environment at which adult topics are often discussed; also, I do sometimes still giggle at the word “oral.” These notes are not intended as serious academic work, but rather a fun and comfortable way to bring my academic life out of the classroom.
3. As my notes will not be terribly professional, I don’t expect any discussions on this blog or related to it to be formal either. However, I do not especially wish to host a flame war, and I will exercise my editorial powers on the comments of this blog whenever the discussion strays to any kind of personal or inappropriate attack. I will not delete or edit any comments for adult content or content that I disagree with.
4. I will do my best to provide links, citations, and external references to topics in the lecture. However, I won’t spend an exorbitant amount of time putting that together, as I do also have to do reading and homework for these classes.
5. I will gleefully welcome and post links to any other discussions or commentary upon related topics if anyone takes it upon themselves to send them to me.

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