But to me, at least — and, yes, I acknowledge I’m at the age where I’m losing the battle to keep up with technology — the negatives outweigh the positives. So much on Twitter is frivolous or self-promotional. It can bury you in information. Because people often use Twitter to react to events instantly, they can say some awfully stupid things, as Roddy White, the Atlanta Falcons receiver, did after the George Zimmerman verdict, suggesting in a tweet that the jurors “should go home and kill themselves.”
With its 140-character limit, Twitter exacerbates our society-wide attention deficit disorder: Nothing can be allowed to take more than a few seconds to write or read. [Paul] Kedrosky may prefer Twitter, but I really miss his thoughtful blog. I recently heard Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, bragging that the pope now has a Twitter account. Once, popes wrote encyclicals; now they tweet.
What I object to most of all is that, like other forms of social media, Twitter can be so hateful. It can bring out the worst in people, giving them license to tweet things they would never say in real life. Continue Reading »
Archive for the 'unhappy endings' Category
So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue Reading »
Via Echidne originally, I give you Geoffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, who tweeted before thinking twice, or even once, really. I kind of liked the first comment at Get Off My Internets, which reads “[w]ell, he’s in evo psych. Of course he’s a d!ckhead.”
Since when are academics concerned about appearance? Continue Reading »
No, this is not a gay porn DVD title–amazingly enough, that’s a true headline! Check out this article from Der Spiegel–they called it panzerschokolade!
It was in Germany, though, that the drug first became popular. When the then-Berlin-based drug maker Temmler Werke launched its methamphetamine compound onto the market in 1938, high-ranking army physiologist Otto Ranke saw in it a true miracle drug that could keep tired pilots alert and an entire army euphoric. It was the ideal war drug. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on university students, who were suddenly capable of impressive productivity despite being short on sleep.
From that point on, the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” But for many soldiers, the miracle became a nightmare. Continue Reading »
Daniel Luzer on Jeffrey J. Selingo’s College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students, in a review entitled “Revolution for Thee, Not Me:”
[I]f we’re expanding access to college through alternative, technology-based systems, is this really expanding access to college or providing a different experience entirely? Perhaps the biggest flaw of this book is that while Selingo offers a very good take on what declining state funding and innovative technology could mean for both colleges and students, he fails to consider what this “revolution” in higher education might mean for American society as a whole.
“The college of the future will certainly be different than the one of today,” he explains, “but robots will not replace professors in the classroom anytime soon. Harvard will remain Harvard.” He estimates that 500 or so of America’s 4,000 colleges have large enough endowments to remain unchanged by this revolution. But isn’t that a problem? If Princeton and Williams will be unaffected by these trends, what’s really going on here?
It seems that the future won’t unbind higher education for everyone—just for the working and middle classes. That’s because rich people will always be able to afford traditional colleges. Continue Reading »
Baa Ram U. announced that tuition next year will increase by 9%, making the cost of one year at my university for Colorado residents the princely sum of $7,494. Unfortunately, the Denver Post buried the lede in the final paragraph, in which the uni’s president notes that “‘If you’re the one writing the check for that $619 increase, that’s what you see, that you’re being forced to pay more money,’ [Tony] Frank said of [the tuition] hike. “That’s not abstract — but what people don’t see is how less of your taxes are being used to buy down the cost of that education.’”
No $hit, Fred. And yet, we’re still treated to blathering by people–most of whose college degrees have at least 25 years’ worth of dust on them–who want the American people to question the value of a college education. Moreover, these are in many cases the exact same people who have championed the disinvestment in higher education that started more than thirty years ago.
Interestingly enough, in the very same newspaper in which I read of this tuition increase, I learned from Ask Amy that the average price of a wedding in the United States is now $30,000. If that number is anywhere near true, then I call bull$hit not just on the Bill Bennett’s of the world, but on the spending priorities of the American people. Continue Reading »
Joan Walsh argues that the perps of last week’s attack at the Boston Marathon must be thought of more like domestic mass-murders than “terrorists” with foreign ties:
We still know comparatively little about the Tsarnaev brothers, but they seem to have more in common with other American mass murderers than with al-Qaida terrorists of any race and ethnicity. No less an expert than former CIA Deputy Director Phillip Mudd said on Fox News Sunday that they have more in common with the Columbine killers than with hardened al-Qaida terrorists. Likewise, Columbine expert Dave Cullen compares the “dyad” of apparent mastermind Tamarlan and follower-younger brother Dzhokhar to the Columbine pair of disturbed plot architect Eric Harris and follower Dylan Klebold.
It also must be noted, while we’re on the subject of profiling, that this is a problem of American males roughly between the ages of 18 and 26: Harris and Klebold were 18; Virginia Tech mass-murderer Seung-Hui Cho was 23; more recently, the Aurora, Colo., theater shooter, James Holmes, is 25; Clackamas, Ore., mall shooter Jason Tyler Roberts is 22; Newtown’s Adam Lanza was 20. We may well learn that radical Islam drew the alienated 26-year-old Tamarlan Tsarnaev toward violence – right now we have no evidence that 19-year-old Dzhokhar had any connection to Islamic militants — but we should also acknowledge his alienation is a common trait among American men his age. Continue Reading »
It’s a big day for women’s history today as we note the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Here’s a roundup up some of the things I’ve seen on the non-peer reviewed interwebs:
- Echidne weighs in on Mags: “Thatcher was not a feminist, of course. She is famous for openly disliking feminism, partly because she was blind to what feminism had given her: The right to run for office, the right to vote. She believed that her successes were based on nothing but her own talents and her own hard work. Women’s concerns she brushed off like so much dandruff on the shoulders of her black suit. . . . So what is Thatcher’s legacy for women? I would imagine that she would be angry at such a question. Those women, always pestering her when she was nothing like them! She was one of the boys, or at least a Smurfette among Smurfs.“
- Note: when Echidne calls Mags a “Smurfette among Smurfs,” she’s not suggesting that her legacy is tiny or mockable. She’s pointing out that there is only *one* Smurfette among a whole colony of Smurfs, and that Smurfettes therefore tend to spend a lot more time and energy defending their position in the boys’ club rather than opening the door to and making room for more Smurfettes. Just so that we’re clear on that point. Continue Reading »
On the day before the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, John Judis has an interesting reflection on “What it Was Like to Oppose the Iraq War in 2003.” He reviews the crazy consensus among “serious” thinkers (even of the so-called “liberal” sort) about the righteousness of the Bush administration’s obvious hard-on to take out Saddam:
In December of 2002, I was invited by the Ethics and Public Policy Center to a ritzy conference at an ocean front resort in Key West. The subject was to be Political Islam, and many of the best-known political journalists from Washington and New York were there. The conversation invariably got around to Iraq, and I found myself one of the few attendees who outright opposed an invasion. Two of the speakers at the event—Christopher Hitchens, who was then writing for Slate, and Jeffrey Goldberg, who was then writing for The New Yorker—generously offered to school me on the errors of my way.
More interesting to me was something Judis writes in the second paragraph in his article:
[W]ithin political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded foes [of the plan to invade]. When The New Republic’s editor-in-chief and editor proclaimed the need for a “muscular” foreign policy, I was usually the only vocal dissenter, and the only people who agreed with me were the women on staff: Michelle Cottle, Laura Obolensky and Sarah Wildman. Both of the major national dailies—The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting)—were beating the drums for war. Except for Jessica Mathews at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington’s thinktank honchos were also lined up behind the war.
I wish he had paused to reflect on the obviously gendered language he uses here, as well as the clear gender divide he recounts here in pro- versus anti-invasion journalist and think-tank opinions (Judith Miller excepted). Continue Reading »
OK, so enough of the images of dudes with mustaches. Did anyone hear this interview on Fresh Air with Arizona’s Sandra Day O’Connor last week? Man, she’s a tough cowgirl, ain’t she? Half the time I was thinking, “what a jerk,” but the other half of the time I was thinking, “now that’s a real western woman.” Plenty of attitude, and no deference whatsoever to Miss Terry Gross. I mean, none, even though her publicist surely booked her on Fresh Air to let Miss Terry Gross help her sell some damn books, right? It’s not like Fresh Air showed up at the ranch uninvited.
(Whereas you know that if I ever get invited to be on Miss Terry Gross’s show, I’d be as slobbering and deferential as a Golden Retriever. Sandra Day O’Connor treats Miss Terry Gross like an irritating college intern in this interview! But Miss Terry Gross knows that there’s a big difference between Sandra Day O’Connor, for example, and your garden-variety douchehats like Bill O’Reilly or Gene Simmons, so she’s very good-humored about it all.) Continue Reading »