David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Self-Indulgent Reflections Upon Common Terms

July 6, 2011:  Self-Indulgent Reflections Upon Common Terms

I'm sure I spend an inordinate amount of time checking the various websites that offer It's All Academic just to see some of the surrounding information (see Feb. 12th blog for one such discussion).  This time I am struck by the "common terms and phrases" listed at the google site for the book.  If I were to choose some common terms and phrases that I believe would be indicative of the book's content and meaningful to potential browsers, I would probably choose the following:

education, higher education, college, university, provost, meetings, murder, fine arts, nursing, health, arts & sciences, branding, accelerated deliveries, commencement, faculty, interviews, and so forth.

Certainly these would be useful, I would think, to the goal of listing common terms and phrases to give potential readers an indication of subjects that might interest them.  Instead, Google lists all of the following: 

Almost none of the terms I would have predicted.  In fact, the majority of the words and phrases could be found in any book.
First off, what is the value of listing character names?  Does one really view It's All Academic differently because there is a character named Fulbright?  Does someone looking for books on Fulbright scholars get sucked into thinking that such noteworthy academics populate the classrooms of Boan University?  Do people looking for books on Victor Hugo get tricked into buying a book with Victor Woo?
Second, what is the value of some oft-used verbs, especially helping verbs?  Quickly, one can identify that I used "can't, couldn't, and didn't."  Sounds like a pretty negative book.  Perhaps I should have gone with an alternate title:  "Dig In The Heels"?
Third, why list weak words such as "there's," "finally," "yeah," "thing" or "off"? These are the equivalent of the thousands of fingerprints left all over Michael Hartley's office.  They're everywhere.
So, let's take out the names, the verbs, and the weak words from the above list and see what's left:
Actually, this isn't a particularly bad list now.  I think it says it all.  In fact, it reminds me of the assignments I had in grade school where we were given a list of words and we had to write a story incorporating all of them.  I always loved those, and if I went by the praise and delight of my family, I did pretty well in writing those stories.  I think I can create an It's All Academic summary from those words.
The agenda on the Boan college Campus consists of classes, basketball, and meeting minutes.  The provost smiles, e-mails, questions, interviews, and jokes.  All kidding aside, though, it is BlackBerry-based discussions, one-on-ones with the president, enrollment goals, NLNAC and nursing hell. Every coffee, every lunch confirms that a dean, or a chair, or a faculty member, or a staff person is a candidate to want something different than the other. From the office desk through cabinet seat to the field house door, the provost's schedule consists of squeezing his stressball all the way through Spirit Week.