Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reading Analysis 9/24

In the readings for Wednesday’s class, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare, “When I consider how my light is spent” by John Milton, and “Know It All: Can Wikipedia Conquer Expertise?” by Stacy Schiff, there seems to be a common theme of flaws in our society. All three directly deal with this concept in one way or another. With Milton, the narrator (who many think is Milton himself) is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is at a point of his life where regret has set in. He has not accomplished all that he had wanted to, and now that he is a blind man he could possibly never get back that chance. This poem is filled with regret and is told by a bitter narrator, one who truly has not come to a positive conclusion about his newly contracted handicap. In Shakespeare’s sonnet, the flaws here lie not with himself, but with his mistress. She is compared, rather unfairly, by Shakespeare to the image of a goddess. In every way, she is inadequate—her hair is like wires, her breath is unpleasant, her lips are dull, etc. She is a flawed creature. Lastly, the Schiff article talks about the ever popular search engine, Wikipedia. Again, the theme of flaws comes up in that Wikipedia, by nature, has the potential to be a very flawed system. It is a public site that allows anyone to post anything about any subject, and there are few rules or regulations that are able to stop them. The flaw here seems to be the lack of internal controls imposed by Wikipedia, and questions concerning the integrity of Wikipedia’s information seem to be creeping up in the minds of many of its many users.

An important thing to note about these flaws, however, is the greater good that seems to come out of them or the people that are able to over look them and see the big picture. In “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” Shakespeare spends nearly 12 lines providing numerous reasons why his mistress does not stack up to the image of a perfect goddess. However, the last 2 lines are arguably the most important in the whole poem, because he says that even though she is not a goddess he still loves her deeply and knows that the two share something special. In the Wikipedia article by Schiff, the flaws with the system truly are great and can be prone to lots of error, but really the site is pretty error free. In the article, Schiff says that in a recent accuracy test Wikipedia had 4 errors for every 3 that traditional power Encyclopedia Britannica. This is extremely impressive for Wikipedia, which has surpassed the million articles mark, because Britannica only has about one hundred and twenty thousand articles. This is so impressive for a website, whose mission remains to “distribute a free encyclopedia to every single person on the planet in their own language.” This is an incredible feat, and an incredible testament to the nearly 200,000 contributors of the website. Lastly, in “When I consider how my light is spent,” John Milton talks about how his life was not lived to the fullest that it possibly could have, and not he is put even further behind the proverbial eight ball because of a recent blindness. Reading in between the lines, Milton really did have some greatness come out of his flaws—he was able to get his message out to the masses, and allow them to learn from his mistakes. He was able to pass down advice, and write a “carpe diem” type of poem that till help many to seize opportunities before they pass them by. While Milton may have waited too late for himself, he can take great satisfaction and pride in that he will be helping out millions of other people with his work.

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