The latest issue of The Review of Higher Education came in the mail this week, so I unwrapped it and flipped it over to see what was in it. I realized that I was reading the names of the authors instead of the titles of their articles. I'm pretty sure I didn't use to do that.
Yesterday I was talking with a first-year masters student, a bright guy, and he was talking about a class he took this semester. He said that when given the name of an author they had read - even someone they read an entire book from - he couldn't put the name together with what he (in this case) wrote. A stray doctoral student in the class, however, had no problem with this.
That flashed me back to my masters program. As an undergrad, I generally didn't remember the names of the scholars we read. (Since I was an English major, yes, I remembered Shakespeare and could tell him from Angela Carter or Charles Dickens. But when I read for my other courses, unless it was a big name - Descartes or Darwin - it was, as far as I was concerned, Some Dude.) When I started my masters program, it took me a good year to realize how important it was to remember that X said Y, rather than that Y is a fact. I had to consciously pay attention to names.
Now, I'm glancing at journals, scanning to see if the articles are by anyone really famous, anyone whose work I tend to enjoy, or any acquaintances. Then it's a second glance to see what the topics are.
Yes, they can rebuild us. They have the technology. Nerdier than we were before.