Speculation about death of higher literacy

George Steiner has written bleakly about the death of the culture of higher literacy, but the renowned scholar is an unexpected optimist in person, reports Ray Conlogue Nov. 21 in The Globe and Mail Last Saturday, Steiner came to York University in Toronto to share top billing with Susan Sontag, Camille Paglia and Jean Baudrillard at a conference called Living Literacies. While several of the less-famous participants labour in the stony field of actually teaching reading and writing – some eight-million Canadians are subliterate – others, like Steiner, have speculated about the death of a higher literacy. To wit, millions can read computer manuals, but very, very few people today have either the wish or the will to read The Iliad, writes Conlogue.

Interest wanes in e-business

Canadian small and medium enterprises say high costs are putting them off from adopting the Internet business solutions an industry group says they need to be competitive, reports Computing Canada Nov.15. The Canadian e-Business Initiative’s Net Impact study shows interest in e-business is waning, says York’s Schulich School of Business Prof. Ron McClean. “We don’t know whether that’s the result of the dot-bomb or whether it’s simply a matter of an economic slowdown, but clearly it is a disturbing statistic that we are slowing down our IBS (Internet business solution) adoption when one would think we are accelerating.”

Should industry subsidize education?

In the wake of a $61-million in-kind donation of engineering software to Dalhousie University, Sam Lanfranco, Chair of the School of Analytic Studies and Information Technology at York University, told Computing Canada that universities will be faced with two options for subsidizing education. They can either reduce the cost of education or get industry to pick up more of the tab. “It is not enough to say we support the education of Canada’s youth, put up half the funding and walk away from how the rest is raised,” he said in a Nov. 15 story on education costs.

Hints of York subway connection

The Sheppard subway line opens with a two-day “coming-of-age” party, reports the Toronto Star Nov. 21, and quotes Toronto city councillor Betty Disero, also Chair of the TTC. “It is the first step toward an expanded system and now we have to look at expanding it east and west all the way from York University to Scarborough Town Centre.”

Overtime an employee’s choice

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. cannot demand its vehicle assembly staff work overtime, because the practice violates Ontario’s labour laws, the provincial Ministry of Labour has ruled, reports the National Post Nov. 21. This is the first time Ontario’s revised labour code has been tested, said Judy Fudge, a labour professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “The order is important because it preserves the choice that employees always had.”

Movies as advertising

The latest 007 flick, Die Another Day, features an unprecedented 24 commercial “partners”, selling products from Ski-Doos to watches, luggage and razors, reports the Times Colonist (Victoria) Nov. 21. “Major media has become so cluttered and the sheer noise level has risen so high, advertisers need you to notice them before you shut them down – mentally or physically,” says Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business.