“What penance have I done” in Copy Raagam

When I was 13 (and it wasn’t a Friday) flunking exams and playing a rather difficult instrument whose foremost exponent is N Ravikiran, were the same thing. GOttu Vaadhyam.

Some guys , on the other hand, had mastered the art of hiding the “Bit”, a miniscule piece of crumpled paper, that could, theoretically at least, hold the entirety of human knowledge. Pant and shirt pockets were for the amateurs, the ones who usually got caught. Pros used the inside of their socks and used toilet breaks to look up answers in them. But for class tests, a “bit” was way too inconvenient. These generally required the “co-operation” of the studious types who had managed to train their minds to be efficient gastric chambers for undigested knowledge that could be vomited on demand during tests and exams.

But not all the studious types were co-operative. Some used text books (on non-test related subjects, obviously) to hide answer papers while they were writing them. Some used their shoulders as an additional shield from the prying eyes of the copiers. The more fanatic of the lot actually constructed 360 degree blocking mechanisms using text books in all directions. They build a small text-book castle, complete with moats, and crocodiles swimming in them.

Throught my student life in school and college, I was, what one would term as moderately Copy-negative, a person who provided slightly more than he copied. But it’s very intriguing why we still consider rote-knowledge so very important, that we decide entire careers based on the velocity of the digestive process in reverse gear.

Is it because we (Ok. Hindus) have an oral tradition going back thousands of years? A complete mistrust of the written word that still hasn’t entirely gone away?

Is it because Microsoft has a subtle ad campaign to promote the human equivalent of installing Windows Vista on a computer with the processing power of a scientific calculator? To prevent students from being smart, lightweight and nimble by installing the metaphorical equivalent of Linux in their heads?

Or is it because the software industry is paying big money to CBSE, all the state boards, text book manufacturers and engineering colleges to keep it this way? Because if kids could use Wikipedia during exams and solve problems collaboratively using instant messaging during tests, who knows how creative they will become in real life? If students used Google on their mobile phones and live-fact-checked their engineering college professors during their lectures, imagine how inconvenient that would become. And (shudder) if they all become real engineers and real artists, who the hell is going to write all that “Hello, World”-level complex code that powers the Indian software revolution?

ps: The title of the post is derived from a translation of Papanasam Sivan’s Enna Thavam Seidhane. Thanks to Bikerdude for pointing out the error in the translation

ps 2: I request all Copy-positive folks out there to contribute successful bit-methods, tips and tricks