Focusing largely on the controversial website Wikipedia, the author explores the challenges confronting teachers of college writing in the increasingly electronic and networked writing environments their students use every day. Rather than praising or condemning that site for its role as an encyclopedia, Cummings instead sees it as a site for online collaboration between writers and a way to garner audience for student writing.
Applying an understanding of Commons-Based Peer Production theory, as developed by Yochai Benkler, this text is arranged around the following propositions:
-- Commons-Based Peer Production is a novel economic phenomenon which informs our current teaching model and describes a method for making sense of future electronic developments.
-- College writers are motivated to do their best work when they write for an authentic audience, external to the class.
-- Writing for a networked knowledge community invites students to participate in making knowledge, rather than only consuming it.
-- A plan for integrating networked writing for an external audience helps students understand the transition from high school to college writing.
-- Allowing students to review and self-select points of entry into electronic discourse fosters "laziness," or a new work dynamic where writers seek to better understand their own creativity in terms of a project's demands.
Lazy Virtues offers networked writing assignments to foster development of student writers by exposing them to the demands of professional audiences, asking them to identify and assess their own creative impulses in terms of a project's needs, and removing the writing teacher from the role of sole audience.