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Google is white bread for the mind - inaugural lecture from Professor Tara Brabazon

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Some provocations from a mediated age

Wikipedia and user-generated content are creating an age of banality and mediocrity by providing consensual information and stifling debate. Students must be trained to be dynamic and critical thinkers rather than drifting to the first site returned through Google.

Tara Brabazon, Professor of Media Studies, will argue in a lecture on 16 January that universities must teach students to question, argue, debate and challenge, rather than accept the 'facts' from Wikipedia or the rankings of Google. The event will take place at the Sallis Benney Theatre at 6:30pm.

Author Andrew Keen has coined this historic moment as 'the cult of the amateur' whereby the internet is populated by second-rate dabblers. In this post-google age students need to be able to interpret and sift through this information.

Professor Brabazon has termed the education resulting from this age of the amateur as 'the University of Google', composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments. She argues that: "we need to teach our students the interpretative skills first before we teach them the technological skills."

Brabazon argues that with the decline in libraries, diminishing stocks of books and fewer librarians, media platforms like Google offer easy answers to difficult problems. She wants to see a more subtle relationship between the analogue and the digital.

She says: "I want students to sit down and read. It's not the same when you read it online. I want them to experience the pages and the print as much as the digitisation and the pixels – both are fine but I want them to have both – not one or the other - not a cheap solution."

Tara Brabazon is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Brighton and Director of the Popular Culture Collective. Having previously taught in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, she holds three Bachelor degrees, in history, literature and education, three Masters degrees in history, cultural studies and education, a graduate diploma in internet studies and a doctor of philosophy in cultural history.

She has written over a hundred refereed articles and published nine books, including The University of Google: education in a (post) information age, The Revolution will not be downloaded: dissent in the digital age, Digital Hemlock: internet education and the poisoning of teaching, and From Revolution to Revelation: Generation X, Popular Culture and Popular Memory. Tara has won national teaching awards and been acknowledged for her contribution to citizenship and education.

Wednesday 16 January 2008 at 6.30pm

Sallis Benney Theatre
Grand Parade
Brighton BN2 2JY

Google is white bread for the mind  - inaugural lecture from Professor Tara Brabazon