Monday, June 30, 2008

Open Access

Stay tuned as this comes to Pitt; this is from this afternoon's Chronicle of Higher Education

Stanford's Education School Mandates Open Access

Open-access advocates predicted that the move last February by Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and, later, by its Law School to require free online access to all faculty members’ scholarly articles would prompt other universities to adopt similar policies. The movement has not exactly snowballed, but another institution did just join in.

Last week Stanford University’s School of Education revealed that it would require faculty members to allow the university to place their published articles in a free online database.

The school’s faculty passed a motion unanimously — just as Harvard’s two faculties had — on June 10. A faculty member and open-access advocate, John Willinsky, made the policy public last week at the International Conference on Electronic Publishing, in Toronto. A video of his presentation is available. —Lila Guterman

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Persuasive Academic Writing

A new primer on academic writing worth recommending to students and other faculty is Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, "They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Persuasive Writing (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2008). Here is a sample of their premise: "For us, the underlying structure of effective academic writing -- and of responsible public discourse -- resides not just in stating our own ideas, but in listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind. Broadly speaking, academic writing is argumentative writing, and we believe that to argue well you need to do more than assert your own ideas" (p. 3). This is a useful little book.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

IT as the new Liberal Arts

In today's Post-Gazette, Ted Roberts writes "If success in the 21st century is being defined by collaborative training that combines computer science/engineering skills with social sciences, languages, psychology and other disciplines, then IT is emerging as the "new" liberal arts. Just as traditional liberal arts education includes the study of theology, art, literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics and science, the new world view of Information Technology is evolving to include interdisciplinary skill sets."

In particular he argues that we should be teaching collaboration across geographies, immersion in new media, power of critical thinking, and a passion for citizenship.

It was not the list that I would have created, which is why I found it to be rather thought-provoking as we look towards what should be taught in our graduate and undergraduate curriculum.

See for the entire commentary.

The Kindle and University Presses

Scott Jaschik, “University Presses Start to Sell Via Kindle,” Inside Higher Education, June 24, 2008, provides an interesting insight in a new direction for university presses. Jaschik reports, “By the beginning of the fall, Princeton plans to have several hundred books available for sale through Kindle. Yale University Press and Oxford University Press already have a similar presence there. The University of California Press recently had about 40 of its volumes placed on Kindle and is ramping up.” The story is at

New IT jobs report

It appears that the job market for IT continues to improve, according to this article in BusinessWeek. Quoting the article:
Here's a hint for high school graduates or college students still majoring in indecision: Put down that guitar or book of poetry and pick up a laptop. Study computer science or engineering, and plan to move to a big city.

A new survey out this week from AeA, the group formerly known as the American Electronics Assn., reports that jobs in the technology industry are growing at a healthy clip, especially in large cities. The organization's Cybercities 2008 survey says that 51 cities added high-technology jobs in 2006, the most recent year for which data were available. The survey tracks new jobs related to the creation of tech products, including fields such as chip manufacturing and software engineering. It is the AeA's first such survey since 2000, which was taken before the crash of the tech bubble that created so many jobs in the late 1990s.

And while slowing economic conditions have dulled the pace of growth since the 2006 data were collected, AeA researcher Matthew Kazmierczak says it's far from turning south. "Nationally, there are some data that show the rate of growth has slowed since 2006, but it hasn't gone negative," he says.

The real market value of social networks

Here is the article from TechCrunch (via NY Times).
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Google and Research

Andy Guess, “Research Methods ‘Beyond Google,” Inside Higher Education, 17 June 2008, describes efforts at some universities to develop information competency programs. Here is an excerpt:

“The problem is near-universal for professors who discover, upon assigning research projects, that superficial searches on the Internet and facts gleaned from Wikipedia are the extent — or a significant portion — of far too many of their students’ investigations. It’s not necessarily an issue of laziness, perhaps, but one of exposure to a set of research practices and a mindset that encourages critical thinking about competing online sources. Just because students walk in the door as “digital natives,” the common observation goes, doesn’t mean they’re equipped to handle the heavy lifting of digital databases and proprietary search engines that comprise the bulk of modern, online research techniques.

Yet the gap between students’ research competence and what’s required of a modern college graduate can’t easily be solved without a framework that encompasses faculty members, librarians, technicians and those who study teaching methods. After all, faculty control their syllabuses, librarians are often confined to the reference desk and IT staff are there for when the network crashes.

So instead of expecting students to wander into the library themselves, some professors are bringing the stacks into the classroom. In an effort to nudge curriculums in the direction of incorporating research methodology into the fabric of courses themselves, two universities are experimenting with voluntary programs that encourage cooperation between faculty and research specialists to develop assignments that will serve as a hands-on and collaborative introduction to the relevant skills and practices.”

The article can be found at

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Report on Women in Science, Engineering and Technology

You might find this item over at the Chronicle interesting. It will be interesting and useful to discuss how we might apply this to higher education. Key findings:

Rich Talent Pipeline. 41% of highly qualified scientists, engineers and technologists on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders are female — a talent pipeline that is surprisingly deep and rich. Despite the challenges girls face at school and in our culture, a significant number make the commitment to begin careers in science.

Fight or Flight. Across SET women hit a break point in their mid- to late-30s. Career and family pressures ratchet up at one and the same time. The losses are massive: over time, 52% of highly qualified SET women quit their jobs. Stepping in with targeted support before this “flight or fight” moment has the potential of lowering female attrition significantly.

Antigens and other Barriers. Five powerful antigens in SET corporate cultures help explain the female exodus. Women are seriously turned off by: hostile macho cultures, severe isolation, mysterious career paths, systems of reward that emphasizes risk-taking, and extreme work pressures.

Cutting Edge Models. New initiatives like WOVEN (Alcoa), Crossing the Finish Line (J&J), Mentoring Rings (Microsoft), ETIP (Cisco) and Restart (G.E.) are game changers that will allow many more women stay on track in SET careers.

Comparative prices of liquids

In these days of $4/gallon for gasoline, you might find this amusing/interesting:

Lipton Iced Tea, 16 oz @ $1.19 = $9.52 per gallon

Diet Snapple, 16 oz @ $1.29 = $10.32 per gallon

Gatorade, 20 oz @ $1.59 = $10.17 per gallon

Ocean Spray, 16 oz @ $1.25 = $10.00 per gallon

Evian water, 9 oz @ $1.49 = $21.19 per gallon (!)

Wite-Out, 7 oz @ $1.39 = $25.42 per gallon

Brake fluid, 12 oz @ $3.15 = $33.60 per gallon

Scope, 1.5 oz @ $0.99 = $84.48 per gallon

Pepto-Bismol, 4 oz @ $3.85 = $123.20 per gallon

Vicks NyQuil, 6 oz @ $8.35 = $178.13 per gallon

HP 02 Black Ink Cartridge, 16 ml $18 online = $4,294.58 per gallon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Look at the Internet, Then and Now

You might find this item interesting. I think it gives a good sense of how the underlying infrastructure has changed in ten years.

Digital convergence

I have begun producing podcasts for my courses using Camtasia. So, when doing a dry run for an upcoming talk, it was natural for me to make that into a podcast as well. I also discovered that Blogger lets you embed podcasts into web pages

On June 20, I will be giving a presentation entitled "Future Perspectives on Digital Convergence" to an audience of telecommunications industry professionals and regulators in Seoul. The podcast of my "dry run" is here.

I welcome your comments and feedback!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Google and Stupdity

Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Atlantic302 (July/August 2008):56-58, 60, 62-63 wonders if our immersion in networked communications isn't transforming the way we read or even how and what we can read. He argues that it is clear that we are reading more than ever, but he draws in some anecdotal and historical evidence to suggest that this is having an impact on our ability to read longer texts and to focus on certain other kinds of documents. He admits that we have much to learn about this: "Never has a communication system playes so many roles in our lives -- or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts -- as the Internet does today. Yet, for all that's been written about the Net, there's been little consideration of how, exactly, it's reprogramming us. The Net's intellectual ethic remains obscure" (p. 60). Carr's writing is always worth some consideration.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Keeping Up with Email and Other Results of the New Technologies

For an entertaining, informative essay on the struggles of academics keep up with all the email, blogs, text messages, etc., see Piper Fogg's "When Your In Box Is Always Full," Chronicle of Higher Education, June 6,2008, available at This consists of a variety of vignettes of faculty trying to cope.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cellphone tracking reveals information

This article about violation of privacy by using cellphones to track how people move also talks about the actual collection of data and the conclusions. The authors are actually from Notre Dame and here is a link to their webpage. They have looked at other social networking related research.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Here Comes Everybody

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (New York: Penguin Press, 2008) provides a readable account of the impact of IT on supporting new ways for people to work together. Shirkey, a faculty member at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, considers how Flickr, blogs, MySpace, Wikis, flash mobs, and open source software enable groups to form, organizations to manage differently, amateurs to challenge professionals, and actions to be carried out collectively. Shirky blends case studies (a mass movement to retrieve a stolen cell phone, reactions to off-hand comments made by a politician, and public scrutiny of cover-ups) with research studies and classic writings. Shirky also considers both the positive and negative implications of the new and emerging technologies.