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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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.