Sunday, May 28, 2006

University of Michigan gets students blogging?

The University of Michigan Medical School's website is hosting the blogs of 12 students. Called 'Dose of Reality', the site claims to give 'insights, ah-ha moments, frustrations and excitement' relating to studying medicine at UMHS. A couple of things make me suspicious of the exact dosage of reality being doled out here. The first is that a disclaimer on the bottom of the blogs warns 'This page is maintained by UMHS Public Relations & Marketing Communications ... The University of Michigan may monitor this blog about the information you’ll find or delete inappropriate content. Any information provided in this blog is offered “AS IS” with no warranties, and no rights are conferred to you. You assume all risk for your use.' (Hmmm... the risks of reading a student blog...)

Given that the entries are long and often illustrated with photos, I wondered whether said public relations outfit pays these students to blog and/or has given each one a digital camera. Or maybe it counts towards their assessment! I wanted to ask, but there are no comment facilities.

I suppose this is no more engineered than the selective quotation, or student profile, that Universities often do to promote their courses (I'm forever picking out the good bits of feedback to promote the Medical Humanities course at Imperial), but I think corporate moderation really against the whole autonomous nature of blogging.


Ghost Writer said...

I agree Giskin this looks very engineered. Then again, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard would argue that there is no 'reality' and that everything is simulated - The Matrix by any other name. In Simulacra and Simulation, Baudrillard argues that our ‘postmodern’ culture is a world of signs that have made a fundamental break from referring to ‘reality’. Baudrillard's concept of simulation is the creation of the real through conceptual or mythological models which have no connection or origin in reality. The model becomes the determinant of our perception of reality-- the real. Homes, relationships, fashion, art, music, all become dictated by their ideal models presented through the media. So, the boundary between the image/representation (or med school blog in this case), or simulation, and reality breaks down. This creates a world of hyperreality where the distinctions between real and unreal are blurred.

aj said...

Rather an anti-climax I'd say. What appears at first glance to be an exciting and encouraging project turns out to be a thinly veiled advertisment for their medical school, minus the bits the dean doesn't want you to see.

Our medical school is not without its faults, but understandably they are not plastered all over the prospectus - a system of anonymous internal feedback allows direct reference to individual teaching staff.

I think this is more engineered that the usual university course promotion - I'd call it airbrushing. What happened to freedom of speech?

xlpharmacy said...

I consider that the blog of those students is magnificent because we can realize about interesting topics we want to know about medicine and posting our thoughts.