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The ghost in the college-admissions machine

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 20, 2008 11:23 AM

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College brochures and Web sites are famous for their ostentatious diversity: Photographers never fail to capture that moment when an infeasibly good-looking group of black, white, Asian, and Latino friends strolls, laughing and smiling, through a campus's finest archway.

Towson University, in Maryland, on its man Web page, elected to single out one happy and attractive African American student. But wait: What's that reflected in her laptop screen? Could it be the return of the repressed -- a hint of a slightly less diverse, slightly less photogenic student body? The ghost of a less polished reality?


The photograph showed up on the delightful site PhotoshopDisasters, the assumption being that a misguided graphic designer cut-and-pasted that reflection, to make the computer look more "real." But, last I checked, commenters were edging toward the conclusion that this was just a badly planned shot (with the image reversed, which would explain why the "Towson" on the sweatshirt is legible). Maybe a little Photoshop deletion would have helped.

This, in contrast, is an undisputed Photoshop disaster, from a furniture catalog.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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