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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Copy And Paste - Hits Global Warming Too

I guess it starts early in life. Infants and kids alike are designed to copy the actions, accents, behavorial instincts from their mothers and fathers and also any other human being in hand. I have not observed small kids with pets in their homes, but I bet the toddlers try to copy the actions of the pets they spend their time with.

As they grow up they start copying their friends and heroes, who in turn again, have ingrained (copied and pasted) the habits from their parents.

When they go to school the teacher tries to tell them to copy the alphabet she writes on the board. For most kids writing the alphabet, like rest of the learning process, is a dull chore, when they could be playing in the mud. The straight lines are still fine but the curves are difficult. It gets more difficult when our education system considers every child to be an potential calligraphist and the lessons on cursive writing start. I remember telling my child to "draw" the alphabet instead of writing. Copy and Paste!!

We are inculcating a habit of copy and paste in our children. I have seen parents scurrying around to get data on issues like Global warming and UNO etc. And this for second grade students!! Ultimately the parent, who himself has forgotten everything about these issues, not having been in touch with the issues, browses the Internet in the offices, takes out a couple of printouts on the relevant subject and hands them over to the kid. Copy and paste. The unassuming kid understand what his father has done and learns the way to solve things. Copy and Paste.

I had heard of 'Catch ém young' but some of us have mistook it for 'Hatch them young'. Why can't learning be a slow progress and kids be allowed to take it easy. Why do we all want our kids to be know all irrespective of what he/she is interested in.

Anyway the learning continues. The teachers due to our education methodology inadvertantly tell the kids to copy and paste. The child learns that understanding a law or a theorem is of no use as long as you can't reproduce exactly what the teacher or the book says it is. Copy and Paste.

In college too, the copy and paste part continues. There are entire thesis available on the net. There is an immense amount of information available on the net on almost all the subjects. Who cares for new research then? Just copy and paste. Change a few words here and there not from the point of view of education or learning, but out of fear of being charged with plagiarism.

The doctorate done, the guy gets a job and continues with his skill of copy and paste, since no one in the organisation wants a change. He is told to retain the formats of reports, letter writing etc. So he copies the earlier letter makes the changes and voila the job is done to the complete satisfaction of his superiors. The man becomes senior and by then knows all the tricks of the trade which he unknowingly thinks is his development since he is so used to copying the work of others and claiming it as his own. Even if he does not, his subordinates surely think that the methods are the boss's trademark. The cycle continues and the copy and paste method prospers.

The method is not without danger. I remember one of my colleagues having developed a form for filling up the Income tax return on an excel sheet. So while I was still slogging with pencil and rubber our man smirkly told me that he had finished. I was tempted and gave in. I copied the file on my computer and made sure all the names and figures had been changed. Just that I over looked a small certification column which mentioned the father's name. My return that year went as - I, son of xyz.... whi was not my father by any chance and I was definitely not his son. Fortunately everyone in the world is very tolerant of the copy and paste method. I am sure some IT assessing officer had a few good laughs, shared it with his friends and then stamped the return as correct and done with.

Lately Mr RK Pachauri and the IPCC must have also realized the dangers of taking short cuts like copying and pasting stuff without verification. Maybe it was the deadlines or the normal interest in controversial and shocking statements but the fact is that at least two issues have been included in the report which were not subject to scientific scrutiny. Maybe there are more. But can you blame Pachauri. Like he said he and almost everyone else has been trained in this method of copy and paste write since their infancy.

I think we should forgive Pachauri and IPCC. Afterall it was his and his team's natural instinct to copy and paste as explained above. And if homosexuality can be acceptable as a natural instinct, why not copy and Paste.

I can almost see Tiger Woods jumping up in the air pleading the natural instincts to be the reason behind his conquests off the course. Erm.. He had to putt, when he saw a hole.

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