Thursday, April 27, 2006
O thou cogger, get a life!
I've been watching the Kaavya Vishwanathan (How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life) fiasco with equal parts of amusement and horror (in print and on the web). In case you missed the articles, she's accused of copying in more than 40 instances from Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts. The sad fact is, in the American undergraduate community, cogging is a way of life. Courses there are much more assignment-based, and as you probably know, there are free essay sites as well as pricier custom essay-writing services (staffed by debt-ridden research scholars: it beats waiting tables). Net-savvy porfessors regularly run string searches on their students' work to catch 'em, but with custom written stuff you can't do that because it's not on the web. So far at JU we've had only certain people ineptly cogging from each other (ahem) in real time exam situations and the odd class assignment. Anyway, the point is, that kind of thing might get you through univ with passing grades, but in the real world it is not smart. And it costs money: it looks like Little, Brown are going to get dragged to court over Vishwanathan's 'innocent' little error. Vishwanathan's 'apology' is so childish one wonders if she even knows what she did wrong. But what really worries me about this is good old racial profiling: if you're a hot shot 17-year-old of Indian origin with a sizzling first novel, this whole shindig will reduce your chances of being published by a US press in the immediate future to nearly zero.