iPhone rumours, or outsourcing the rumour mill

Outsourcing iPhone RumoursConsider this post more of a thought-in-progress than anything. Two things I read this week that triggered the “Bingo, it’s a connection!” neurons in my brain. I can’t quite pinpoint how, but here they are:

1. Outsourcing Education: Does It Matter If Someone in India Corrected Your College Paper?
Apparently some US colleges are outsourcing basic grading functions to India—grammar as a quantifiable skill.

But mostly it was this:
“Some college instructors say it’s insulting to expect them to spend time correcting a paper’s grammar mistakes. They say they don’t have time to slog through 10 pages of countless subject-verb agreement problems.” The bar on the work we’re too good to do just gets raised higher and higher. And, I have to ask, if we think we’re too good to teach basic grammar to students, where exactly are the next generations going to learn the basic art of communication? I’ll stop there, since this is not supposed to be a post about language and writing.

And this:
“Schools like West Hills are barely surviving the economic downturn. Until they have the money to hire more faculty, outsourcing remedial writing feedback makes sense.” Now what’s the likelihood that a school will go back to in-sourcing, when they see the money they’ve saved? Cha-ching. Ain’t gonna happen.

Is the voice inside your head screaming yet? “We’re outsourcing college education?! We’re outsourcing college education?!”

From that to…

2. iPhone 5 Rumor Round-Up: Late November Arrival, But No NFC?
The self-important, breathless earnestness of tech blogs is troubling in and of itself. But this particular example stood out because, well… what to think about a list of points A, B and C that may or may not be true about the iPhone 5, which may or may not be called the iPhone 5, which may or may not be released one day in the early summer or in the fall, or some other random date completely. When did the positioning of the camera flash on a phone inspire this much verbage? Or that a website possibly, maybe, is temporarily unavailable? The somersaults required to turn such speculation into an article are astounding. Yet this is just one of so many examples of where we choose to expend our energy. I chose this article from Fast Company, but there are any number of other tech blogs out there with variations on the same (including the four I just linked to dedicated solely to iPhone 5 rumours*. Rumours, people). And you can bet that most of these sites are either not paying their staff or paying a pittance. Yet, we continue to spin and consume. Apparently, that’s not insulting, but helping college students improve their grammar, well, that is.

Meanwhile, the totem pole on which our “best and brightest” are perched is being chipped away and sent overseas because:

Rumours about iPhone and flash

Apple site outage notice

  • we don’t want to pay for it
  • we can’t pay for it
  • we think we can’t pay for it
  • we don’t want to do the work
  • we don’t think the work is important

In other words, we are outsourcing knowledge and college education, under the guise of a recession while at the same time expending our energy (often unpaid) on tracking rumours about phones (on which someone else is making a fortune).

I haven’t quite wrapped my head around it, but something about the combination of outsourcing yet another layer of professional work set against the razor sharp, always ready and eager lens pointed at personal tech toys…

It doesn’t fit. I don’t know quite how or where, but the scales are tipped in the wrong direction.

That’s all I got for now folks. Feel free to weigh in with your brilliant thoughts below.

[*UPDATED – Most of these sites have since been removed, though you can likely find plenty of similar links for the latest iteration-to-be of the iPhone.]

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