We're covered this territory before.
Quoting what an authority has already written on a particular subject is a way
of establishing our own place as links in the chain of the ongoing development
of knowledge. When we can quote somebody else, we show that we're not simply making
things up. And of course that's the reason that the section of my thesis that
dealt with a review of the literature of hypertext carried the title:
Prove you're not making
all this up.
But of course I was well aware back then as well that the point was less that
we weren't making things up, but that we could show that we weren't making them
up. In other words, we tend to keep adding more and more words (new and "other" words)
to an already rather large existing pile of them in our attempt to make our proof more convincing. It's
as though we want to convince via the democratic process of majority
rule, and thus have to find as many quotes as possible to show that we're
part of a dominant, and normative, opinion. On one
of the pages of that review of the literature I noted that:
It's not at all difficult to beef up a bibliography with more and more articles that not only say essentially the same thing, but also quote exactly the same sources. Neither cyberspace nor a university library are really in need of yet one more review of this literature.
I'm as convinced today as I was then that we really don't need more. But students
who have to turn in a paper aren't necessarily of the same opinion.
Go to: Just who do you think you are?