Monday, December 17, 2001

The Turing Game and The Risk of The Personal in Jill/txt.

I haven't read Jill's article or the response to it or played the Turing Game, so I am eminently unfit to comment on this. I guess that means I can be objective?

Objective is an interesting retoric position. Teaching journalism, I have stopped using the word "objective", only speaking of "etterrettelighet": an open way of writing which lets your reader check your sources - staying honest and thrustworthy within the context where you work.

No writing can be objective: even natural science or hard data sociology is victim to the context in which its researched and reported. Not being objective doesn't mean there is no truth, but it shows that truth is limited: a fact is limited by the situation in which it is observed.

A researcher is part of the context of research, a scholar is his or her own tool: not showing your face, your position and your opinions: your pre-understanding, is to hide a part of the context in order to make your statements seem to be more general, more valid: more objective. It's a long way from hermeneutic pre-understanding to the reflexive methods of action research, but even hermeneutics, the text-analysis of sosiologists, is clear about the limitations of facts and the need for interpretation of all facts.

Interpretation leads to subjectivity, and no careful proofreading removes the subject from my text, even if I don't use "I" at all, thus successfully hiding the source of the stream of words on the screen or the page. Our most important tool as text-scholars is interpretation: we all try to do it as honestly as possible, showing what we interpret how and why rather than just stating our feelings/findings, but it's still the work of the subject. A well-trained, honest and precise subject, perhaps, but still...

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