Saturday, November 5, 2011

The challenge is to read the book!

Daniel Russell has a column called Search ReSearch where he issues challenges to find information in our tech world. He picked Moby Dick for the latest one. Catch what he says about the book as a whole first:

If you're like me, you probably read Moby Dick at some point in your life. Maybe in high school, maybe for general reading later on in life. Regardless of when you read it, you probably have a pretty good mental image of the story, right? Captain Ahab and the search for the great white whale... maybe something about the inherent qualities of mankind, some ideas about man vs. nature, madness and a bunch of characters, the likes of which would never enter a Starbucks, but would prefer their grog on the open sea.

Challenge: How Much Did You Understand When You First Read Moby Dick?

Whenever it was that you read Moby Dick, how much of it did you understand? Let's test your level of understanding: You know what a right-whale is, you probably remember the difference between a top-sail and a stun-sail, and you remember the characters of Starbuck, Queequeg and Ishmael, right?

He then goes on to issue a challenge to find some obscure traits about the Pequod. The question and answer is here at

Cool. And he had to go to the real text to get an answer and then powered through it with a good old CTRL-F find method. Didn't re-read it or anything, though.

Overall, I wonder how many high schools still teach Moby Dick. I wouldn't dare for fear of mutiny. It's a very cursory factual understanding that Russell shows above and I would be interested if all that didn't come out of a quick search rather than his memory.

No comments: