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Hype and spin in the universities Peter Andras and Bruce Charlton

Summary: Hype and spin in the universities
Peter Andras and Bruce Charlton
We increasingly expect self-serving distortion to be a feature of almost all the
publicly-available information generated by government, corporations and
institutions. Each participant competes for attention, the noise level rises, and
you must shout ever louder to make yourself heard.
Amidst this clamour, the quiet voice of reason is almost inaudible. Any
`honest' organisation that tried to provide accurate, valid and comprehensible
information about their activities may find themselves judged by the cynical
standards of the mass media. Gresham's law applies: bad information drives
out good. The consequence is `communication inflation' in which the value of
information is eroded by large and unpredictable exaggeration.
Universities, although self-described as bastions of disinterested enquiry, are
fully implicated in this phenomenon. The reason relates to the need for
`translation' of internal university activities into publicly comprehensible terms
- and the opportunities this affords for more-or-less subtle distortion.
Each university discipline speaks a different specialist technical language
which is crucial to the efficient activity of the discipline. Such technical
languages evolve because they can be more concise and precise than public
discourse. Communicating with a colleague in the same discipline is therefore


Source: Andras, Peter - School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne


Collections: Computer Technologies and Information Sciences