Organizers of Total dictation: as a high school flash mob takes over the world

Public cultural and educational initiative NSU students become over the years into a regular large mass action


The project students of Novosibirsk State University "Total dictation" which originated eight years ago, every year more than covers all the cities and countries. Last year, he received a national award in the field of public relations "Silver Archer", and this year the event will be a truly international — specially written a popular writer and journalist Zakhar Prilepin text on April 21 under the dictation will write about 25,000 people in more than 60 cities of Russia and world. RIA Novosti correspondent Dmitry Mikhalev tried to find out from the organizers of Olga Rebkovets and Yegor Zaikina why today it became fashionable to be familiar with the native language, why do people write dictations and why are not afraid to seem illiterate.

— What is "Total dictation" and as generally conceived his idea?

Egor Zaikin: This year, the "Total dictation" will be held for the ninth time, and started the whole thing in 2004. The event was made by students for students within the Faculty of Humanities NSU days. The idea was this: "And let us check everyone for literacy. They can come physics, mathematics, and laugh." For several years it was a university event, but then suddenly it started to grow, and it grew to the all-Russian and even world events in dozens of cities. And every year thousands of people gather in various cities and completely voluntary, pen on paper, write dictation. It is the same as in the school, but with a more complex text, written specifically for the event. Usually dictation people associate with stress and negative school memories, but, nevertheless, surprisingly, people come and write. Olga Rebkovets: For example, in 2009 — a turning point for the history of the event, we were invited to dictate text Psoy Korolenko (famous scholar and journalist). He flew in from Moscow and had dictated the text of Gogol by staging the play of true performance. And then we realized that yes, people are interested to test their literacy, but even more fun to participate in a show, flash mobs, to take part in something massive and interesting. So we have come up with things that would attract an audience.

The next step was to appeal to the well-known writer to write the text specifically for dictation. This proved to be a breakthrough, because people were so interested to hear, for example, the opinion of Boris Strugatsky, which had not previously been published and has been described specifically for them … It was really very interesting. Developing in this direction, we have attracted a larger and larger audience. Plus, this information went wave — people began to write about it in the media, on blogs, to learn from friends. Now on a dictation know, in my opinion, in all corners of the country. I often get letters from distant villages, for example, the Primorsky Territory, where people also want to write a dictation.

E.Z: An important role, of course, played and social networks.

— So initially contributed to the success of a desire to be literate and communication?

OR: Yes. In dictation, as the project has so many aspects, but the basic components of the two — is to raise awareness and take part in a flash mob. Dictation really fits the principles of flash mobs. People are interested to join the global event.

EZ: Indeed, the flash mob — this is when people are in a public place make the pre-agreed absurd actions. But what could be more absurd that people voluntarily come in and write dictation. The motivation of the participants total dictation is the same as that of the parties to any flash mob, though maybe they themselves do not realize it.

— People who come to write dictation, who are they?

OR: Can be answered very briefly, everything. Subjected to some analysis of the public, which is involved in writing the dictation is impossible. It is people of all ages — from children to senior citizens, people of different professions. But the main driving force participants dictation — a category of active young people from 20 to 30 years, who hang out on the internet and in the course of all the latest trends. These people are not all the same, they are ready to challenge everyone and especially myself to go and check their literacy. They are not weak.

EZ: They are not weak, in particular, to put himself in a ridiculous light in order to go and get a deuce in public. And the fact that people go to the dictation for several years and consistently improve their scores — many times it happened.

— We can say that you cultivate the fashion of literacy?

OR: Originally, the slogan dictation become "write correctly — and now!". We are carrying out this action every time it is trying to prove. We now do not write "on the table" or in a diary and writing on the Internet. If before our mistakes were just our little secret, but now they are made public. Some kind of a tribute to his companion, and a demonstration of its particular cultural level is competent writing. We tried to spread the idea and instill it. Too many of our members support this idea.

EZ: Now that all the 2 billion people who have access to the Internet — public authors, literacy problem arises with unprecedented severity. Illiterate people, the existence of which no one knew, because it was not possible to read their texts — they are all now in the public domain and this gets a little scary. Although there really is no radical decline of literacy did not happen. Just illiterate people have suddenly become visible.

— Mass illiteracy in the Internet has spawned a protest?

OR: Yes. In addition, indeed, now in the language of chaos. Often it is not clear where the correct spelling, and where not. The norm is that as wrong as spoken by the majority or recorded in dictionaries? A lot of questions. But we still call for order and respect for basic norms.

— What is the main difference between the "total dictation" model in 2012 from last year?

OR: First of all, it is a quantitative growth. If last year took part in the action 13 cities, one of which was Boston, and other cities of Russia, and this year we expect about 50-60 participating cities in Russia and about 10 cities abroad. They are constantly joining. The second change — a change in the format of dictation, which is associated with quantitative growth. We can not simultaneously throughout Russia write dictation — somewhere is too early and too late somewhere, and one of the basic principles of dictation — a unity of time.

So we invited people to become members of this "grammatical relay". This year will be no text dictation of 300, and approximately a thousand words, but it will be divided into three parts. The first part is to write the Far East and Eastern Siberia at the time. The second part — Western Siberia and the Urals. Baton to finish the European part of Russia. Thus, writing dictation three large groups, we collect online text together, and everyone will be able to read it in its entirety. So we hope to overcome the problem of time zones, and we believe that it will be very interesting and will be an additional "plyushechki" participants.

— Participating cities receive text dictation at the same time? How does this happen?

OR: We’re recording video, where the author is reading his text, and send it directly to the beginning of the action. Cities receive text two hours before the dictation to be able to rebuild the technical equipment and to minimize the possibility of "leakage." Video on which the author reads the text, written on the eve of. Next is linguists and professionals in place dictate text for recording. We believe that only a person with experience can dictate the text so that it was interpreted by writing it in accordance with the plan’s website. Despite all this flashmob and entertainment, many perceive the process of writing as a process of dictation test their literacy very seriously, and do not like it when something interferes.

— Of course, because the results will be known to all …

OR: Yes, but here we focus the audience, and most have the same approach and is the result of dictation — this is the result of each personal checking their knowledge. This is not a way to figure out which city residents literate and how much we have in the country Losers.

— That is, the original idea of dictation in connection with the quantitative extension itself is not discredited? Rivalries cities do not?

EZ: This problem is really fanning the only media who love to write headlines like: "Krasnoyarsk shown themselves illiterate" and so on.

OR: We tried to argue that the main thing is not that so many people have written on the two, and that thousands of people gathered, came and wrote. So they are not all the same.

— Who verifies the dictation?

OR: After the author to write the text, working with him a commission of experts of the project — it is the leading philologists of Novosibirsk, which connect their counterparts in other cities. The Commission is looking text, agrees with the author of the controversial moments and then writes detailed comments on the check. All substantiated excerpts from the handbook. Then, these comments are sent to other cities and, on this basis, they are examined. Thus, we achieve the unity of the evaluation criteria.

— As people from other cities to join the project?

EZ: People just see the information in social networks, the media, and say they also want to make it in the city. We pass all these people and all of our methodology of use, instructions, select the area on the site of dictation. We can say that this is such a franchise, though entirely non-profit.

OR: There are no limits, except that a commercial company can not organize dictation, and personally to the organizers, as individuals, to have no special requirements. Also, there is no limit on the number. Dictation can be conducted in a large city or in a small village. The main thing — the desire and initiative. We all help.

— In which the most exotic part of the world this year will be held dictation?

OR: This will please the first dictation, for example, in Auckland (New Zealand), London, Paris, Yalta.

EZ: Yet we are very pleased with the small Russian town. For example, last year the dictation conducted in Snezhinsk, Chelyabinsk region. This year will have a lot of small towns. In cities "Total dictation" really is the biggest urban developments, and perhaps for the entire year. There is an unprecedented boom, going to the best people of the city.

— What will happen to the project now? Is there a global target?

OR: Intergalactic total dictation (laughs). In fact, the whole course of development, which took dictation rather natural. We do not sit and think out wherever we go next. Society and the project itself suggest where to go. For example, the idea of a special website for dictation arose when fell two questions — from dictating, and the issue of cheating. It is not clear why people would need to write off, but it was unpleasant. The idea of expanding arose when there was such an initiative from other cities. The idea of a grammatical relay race — when the issue with time zones. That is all natural and the project itself will tell him where to develop.

EZ: Also, naturally raised and subproject "Russian on Fridays." The people who wrote the dictation wanted to do work on the bugs. Now it is possible to come to a special place, see their work and get advice philologist. Then people began to ask for such consultations to dictation. In the end, all this resulted in a large sub-free Russian language courses for everyone. "Russian Fridays" is already working in six cities in Russia.

— And there are options for the project, which you will not suffer?

OR: Not a single party will not pay money for taking part in a dictation and dictation of some subprojects. It has always been and will be free of charge. As for everything else, it can be anything.

— As the famous people become the authors of "total dictation," and who is the author of dictation-2012?

EZ: We have enough people are direct, no reverence before authority we do not have, so we authors just write a letter and say, "We’ve got a dictation. Would you like to write a text?" Some disagree. Two years ago, so we persuaded Boris Strugatsky, and a year ago, Dmitry Bykov. This year, we wrote Zakhar Prilepin and he agreed.

— Author somewhat limited when writing?

EZ: We made only general suggestions — the format, scope, and specifically what the author would write — it’s completely his business.

OR: In previous years, we have come to expect from the authors of something artistic, and they wrote journalism, expressed its position on the status of literacy and Russian language. That this year will want to say Zahar, we do not know, but I’m sure it will be very interesting. By tradition, the author arrives in Novosibirsk — "the capital of dictation" and dictate the text on one of the sites of the city. In total there will be 18 to 20. It universities, libraries and schools.

— Whether employers are increasingly give preference to people who wrote this dictation?

OR: It went from sub-dictation, which also grew out of the wishes of the participants. Many people do not even get a top-five and four, they find it quite good result and wanted to get this documented. Thus was launched the system of certificates of "total dictation." Each participant came for consultation after the dictation, can obtain a certificate that he wrote it with such a number of errors in the assessment of such and such. Some employers maintaining a high level of literacy among their employees are ready to give preference to candidates who have the highest scores for dictation.

EZ: Indeed there are jobs that explicitly says "positive assessment on the" total dictation "candidate will be a plus."

OR: Also appearing and summaries, where a number of people write their merits "honors" total dictation. "We are very happy.

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