Wednesday, December 22, 2010
War, as Mitchell notes, can be viewed in real time, from just about any vantage via social media: "The shaping of perceptions of history does not have to wait for historians or poets, but is immediately represented in audio-visual-textual images transmitted globally" (p. xii). In a clever bit of analysis, Mitchell teases how the meaning of the images associated with 9/11 by relating their interpretation to the highly politicized debates about the cloning of life preceding the terrorists' attacks. Cloning assumes many levels of meaning, from just plain copying to that of image making, especially since both the arguments about cloning and the terrorist attacks used images in very similar ways. Mitchell notes that the Bush administration was fortunate to have the terrorist events since it ended what was probably an endless debate about the bioethics of cloning before that debate had really settled in. Still, there is an inherent fear of images, that is, that they might come to life.
Mitchell examines what he calls the "memory archive" of the war, the essential and seemingly " unforgettable" or iconic images of 9/11 that have shaped our understanding of the war on terror (a term not now used by the Obama administration). The study of or interest in iconic images is nothing new, having emerged certainly with the birth of photography and even farther back with paintings. But there is something different now because of our networked information technologies. "Images migrate around the planet at blinding speed; they become much more difficult to quarantine or censor; and they are subject to more rapid mutation than ever before" (pp. 73-74). Not surprisingly, then, Mitchell focuses on the images of the Twin Towers and the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture (this example having been transformed into an "archive" of leaked images and other images commenting on or playing with the photographs). Mitchell suggests that what makes the Abu Ghraib archive "new and different" is that the "central collection of documents is virtual (a body of digital images accompanied by metadata automatically encoded in their files)' and that the archive itself -- its location, structure, and retrieval system -- is also virtual. The digital character of the images has had momentous consequences for their circulation, of course, giving them their notoriously viral character, resisting all attempts at quarantine and containment" (p. 123). From my vantage, we can understand the present "war" as much more of an Information Age phenomenon, even as we realize that images shaped our sense of earlier conflicts such as the Civil War, the World Wars, and Vietnam. War and memory is something different today: "The emergence of social media such as YouTube and Twitter has turned every citizen into a potential journalist, every innocent bystander into a potential witness whose testimony can be uploaded to the global nervous system" (p. 130). It is why Mitchell plays with the nature of bioethical debates about cloning, the latter representing a "deep copy, a perfect transcript at both the digital and analog levels, visible embodiment and molecular structure coordinated" (p. 164).
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Focused around the 1966 killing of a pirate radio operator, this book by historian Adrian Johns examines the rise and fall of pirate radio in England and its battle with British government and the BBC. Johns believes this helps us understand our own digital era. While Johns gives us an absorbing story, with interesting characters and incidents, I am not convinced about his connecting this to the modern information age or the debates about issues like intellectual property. But this may not be much of a criticism. Johns gets quite involved in revealing the details of the heyday of British pirate radio, so much so that when he interjects some sweeping assertion about the meaning of the period the reader really may not care if he or she buys the argument. In fact, Johns himself even asserts that it is not the role of the historian to tease out all the meaning for contemporary issues. Our historian reveals himself to be a good storyteller, a skill that a shrinking number of academic historians either possess or reveal, and that may be enough of a contribution. If one is energetic, you can read this book as a lengthy case study footnote to his other recent book, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. I suspect the book of pirate radio was researched as part of his major study of piracy.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
In his continuing series of essays on the future of books and libraries, Darnton examines “three especially difficult problems” challenging the future of academic libraries. These challenges include the costs of periodicals and the devastating impact on other library programs, the sustainability of libraries, and the prospects of a true national digital library rather than the commercialization of e-books. One of Darnton’s persistent comments is that how these challenges are generally not well understood by university faculty. One might surmise that faculty at a school like ours might be in a position to grasp the issues. I doubt it, at least when looking at our actions. In the discussion about the second jeremiad, Darnton considers open digital repositories, noting the reason why they exist as follows: “While prices continued to spiral upward, professors became entrapped in another kind of vicious circle, unaware of the unintended consequences. Reduced to essentials, it goes like this: we academics devote ourselves to research; we write up the results as articles for journals; we referee the articles in the process of peer reviewing; we serve on the editorial boards of the journals; we also serve as editors (all of this unpaid, of course); and then we buy back our own work at ruinous prices in the form of journal subscriptions—not that we pay for it ourselves, of course; we expect our library to pay for it, and therefore we have no knowledge of our complicity in a disastrous system.” Well, we have such a digital repository, and only a few faculty members here have used it.
After reading Sowell’s text, one wonders whether any intellectual has ever done anything worthwhile for society. Sowell dissects the mess intellectuals have made of economic issues, how they visualize society and its problems, the concept of truth, law and its function in our world, war and its causes, and how they view their own roles. Sowell believes that intellectuals have no accountability for their views or the consequences of their ideas at play in the world, and that they have offered up a lot of concepts that are both nonsense and dangerous. This is an interesting book to read for its criticism of the nature of ideas, information, and wisdom in our culture. Yet, one walks away from the task of reading this lengthy tome wondering what the world would be like without intellectuals (but Sowell never really addresses this in any depth) or, for that matter, universities where most intellectuals live. But that is ok; being an intellectual, we can follow his own views and just ignore him.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
University Measures Extent of Texting in Class
Faculty members everywhere complain about students who text in class, but professors at Wilkes University decided to measure the extent of the practice. Deborah Tindell and Robert Bohlander, psychology professors, surveyed 269 students anonymously. Among the findings:
- 95 percent of students bring their phones to class every day.
- 91 percent have used their phones to text message during class time.
- Almost half of respondents said it was easy to text in class without instructors being aware.
- 99 percent said they should be permitted to retain their cell phones while in class.
- 62 percent said they should be allowed to text in class as long as they don’t disturb their classmates. (About a quarter of the students stated that texting creates a distraction to those sitting nearby.)
- 10 percent said that they have sent or received text messages during exams, and 3 percent admitted to transmitting exam information during a test.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Is it possible that this alarming article, written with such beguiling candor, is itself a fraud? And perhaps the Chronicle is also in on the joke, as this issue also includes an article on the many fabricated voices assumed by the essayist. 
Surely meant to raise the ethical hackles of anyone who has graded a writing assignment, or designed a rubric to regularize that grading process, this discussion of the incompetence or disinterest of a wide range of students in undergraduate, graduate and professional educational programs invites indignant response. His client base is primarily students who fall into the categories of the “English-as –second –language student; the hopelessly deficient student, and the lazy rich kid.” What unifies these non-writers, says Mr. Dante, is that the Academy has failed them. So he picks up the slack, churning out apparently acceptable papers based on the snippets of full-text resources readily available from Amazon and Google Scholar, basing his arguments on the identification of significant issues according to Wikipedia.
Clearly it is our fault for setting unreachable standards and then not knowing our students well enough to know that those polished – and costly – final papers could not have originated with Dante’s clients – our students – who cannot spell desperate consistently.
 Carl H. Claus, “The put-ons of personal essayists.” The Chronicle Review , 19 November 2010. Available at http://chronicle.com/article/The-Put-Ons-of-Personal/125324/
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
“The Conflicted University” examines the endangered future of independent, transparent research for the common good at universities across the country.
Guest editor Sheldon Krimsky, one of the nation’s experts in scientific conflicts of interest, teamed up with Academe editor Cat Warren to create this expanded issue of Academe.
In this special issue, a group of internationally respected academics, science journalists, and other experts tackle what have become some of the thorniest issues facing higher education: corporate conflicts of interest, the chilling of scientific speech and academic freedom, and the urgent need to protect the integrity of scientific research.
From the BP oil spill debacle and ideological attacks on climate scientists and on student law clinics to the troubling influence of Big Agra, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma at universities, the topics covered in the issue attest to the vulnerability of academia to both external influences and conflicts of interest.
But progress is possible, and the role of faculty is indispensible. We hope this special issue will stimulate faculty members, administrators, legislators, and the public to think about the need for more vigorous protection of the university’s core commitments to improving the environment, public health, and public knowledge.
Inside this issue:
“Kneecapping” Academic Freedom: Corporate attacks on law school clinics are escalating.
Robert R. Kuehn and Peter A. Joy, law professors, Washington University in St. Louis
The Costs of a Climate of Fear: Ideological attacks on scientists undermine sound public policy.
Michael Halpern, program manager, Union of Concerned Scientists
BP, Corporate R&D, and the University: New lessons for research universities, thanks to a catastrophe.
Russ Lea, vice president for research, University of South Alabama
When Research Turns to Sludge: Tying strings to sludge is not as hard as it sounds.
Steve Wing, epidemiologist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
A Not-So-Slippery Slope: Rejecting tobacco funding isn’t rocket science. It’s basic ethics.
Allan M. Brandt , historian and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University
The Historians of Industry: What happens when historians enter the courtroom? Mostly, industry rules.
Gerald Markowitz, historian, City University of New York, and David Rosner, historian, Columbia University
Hubris in Grantland: Languor and laissez-faire greet conflict of interest at the NIH.
Daniel S. Greenberg, science journalist
The Moral Education of Journal Editors: Disclosure is a necessary first step toward scientific integrity.
Sheldon Krimsky, urban and environmental policy and planning professor, Tufts University
Diagnosing Conflict-of-Interest Disorder: How Big Pharma helps write the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Lisa Cosgrove, clinical psychologist, University of Massachusetts Boston, and residential research fellow, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
Big Food, Big Agra, and the Research University: A Q&A with Marion Nestle, New York University food scientist.
The Canadian Corporate-Academic Complex: The unhealthy collaboration of corporate funders and university administrators.
James Turk, executive director, Canadian Association of University Professors
The online edition of this issue also includes a brief summary of the findings of Big Oil Goes to College, a Center for American Progress report by Jennifer Washburn, author of University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education.
Friday, November 05, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Library Inc., by Daniel Goldstein
here is the first paragraph as a teaser; go to the link and read the article and the comments!:
From industry-backed research to CEO-style executive salaries and perquisites, the influence of corporate America on universities has been the subject of much popular and scholarly scrutiny. University libraries have largely escaped that attention. Yet libraries, the intellectual heart of universities, have become perhaps the most commercialized academic area within universities, with troubling implications for the future of higher education…
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Our findings reveal that there is a generic Poisson process in individual human behavior which is connected to the power-law-like bursts through the interaction with other individuals, resulting in the interplay between the cut-off time τ0 and the characteristic Poisson interval 1∕β which are generally influenced by the network topology and the processing time tp in various human activities. This picture has significantly changed the current competing views of human activity, either following Poisson or power-law statistics. Our findings open a new perspective in understanding human behavior both at the individual and network level which is of utmost importance in areas as diverse as rumor and disease spreading, resource allocation and emergency response, economics, and recommendation systems, etc. For example, treating the events as independent bursts would allow quantitative analysis of phone line availability and bandwidth allocation in the case of Internet or Web use, which should be significantly different from the assumption of power-law tails which allow very long silent periods.
I wonder how a study like this might apply to more broadly to areas of study within SIS ...
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
• Average teenager sends more than six texts per waking hour
• Teen females send an incredible 4,050 text per month
• In every age bracket, the number of texts sent has increased when compared to last year
• Twenty-two percent say SMS is easier than a phone call
(Mashable) -- If you needed more proof that texting is on the rise, here's a stat for you: the average teenager sends over 3,000 texts per month. That's more than six texts per waking hour.
According to a new study from Nielsen, our society has gone mad with texting, data usage and app downloads. Nielsen analyzed the mobile data habits of over 60,000 mobile subscribers and surveyed over 3,000 teens during April, May and June of this year. The numbers they came up with are astounding.
The number of texts being sent is on the rise, especially among teenagers age 13 to 17. According to Nielsen, the average teenager now sends 3,339 texts per month.
There's more, though: teen females send an incredible 4,050 text per month, while teen males send an average of 2,539 texts. Teens are sending 8 percent more texts than they were this time last year.
Other age groups don't even come close, either; the average 18 to 24-year-old sends "only" 1,630 texts per month. The average only drops with other age groups. However, in every age bracket, the number of texts sent has increased when compared to last year. Texting is a more important means of communication than ever.
In 2008, the main reason anybody got a phone was for safety, even among teenagers. That's not true anymore. 43 percent of teenagers now say texting is the #1 reason they get a cell phone. Safety is #2 with 35 percent, while 34 percent of teenagers say they get cell phones to keep in touch with friends.
Texting is also supplanting voice calls -- 22 percent say SMS is easier than a phone call and another 20 percent say it's faster. Voice usage has decreased by 14 percent among teens and is decreasing in all age groups under 55. 18 to 24 year olds use the most minutes, but every age group between 18 and 55 talks on the phone more than the average teenager.
While voice may be on the decline, data and app usage is on the rise. According to Nielsen, data usage among teens has quadrupled, from 14 MB to 62 MB per month.
In a role reversal, teen males use more data than their female counterparts: 75 MB vs. 53 MB of data. App and software downloads also increased by 12 percent among teens in the last year.
These stats are eye-popping, but what's even more amazing is that these numbers only keep rising. Texting, data usage and app downloads are nowhere near their peak, but one has to wonder: how many texts is the average teenager actually capable of sending? What's the limit?
© 2010 MASHABLE.com
[September 29, 2010, from Inside Higher Ed via Library Link of the Day]
Should colleges teach students how to be better Googlers?
Educators who see the popular search engine as antithetical to good research might cringe at the thought of endorsing it to students. But they might not cringe nearly as hard as did attendees of the 2010 Ithaka Sustainable Scholarship Conference when Andrew Asher showed them what happens when students do not learn how to use Google properly. “Students do not have adequate information literacy skills when they come to college, and this goes for even high-achieving students,” said Asher, the lead research anthropologist at the Enthographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries (ERIAL) Project, which recently studied the search habits of more than 600 Illinois students spanning a range of institutions and demographic groups.
Asher moved swiftly through a few slides featuring excerpts from interviews with students, each eliciting both chuckles and gasps from the audience of librarians and technologists. “I’m just trusting Google to know what are the good resources,” responded one sophomore biology student.
“Of all the students that I interviewed, not a single one of them could give an adequate conceptual definition of how Google returns results,” said Asher. Not even those “who should know better,” like computer science students. The word “magic” came up a lot, he noted.
Asher pulled quotes from other students evidencing how the expectations and ignorances bred by habitual, unthinking use of Google had affected how students use other search engines, such as those built into the scholarly archive JSTOR. The students in the ERIAL sample seemed oblivious to the logic of search or how to generate or parse search results with much patience or intelligence. “I just throw up whatever I want into the search box and hope it comes up,” a junior nursing major told the researchers. “…It’s just like Google, so I use it like Google.”
This Google effect does not bode well for students who manage to make it as far as a scholarly database, said Asher. “Student overuse of simple search leads to problems of having too much information or not enough information … both stemming from a lack of sufficient conceptual understanding of how information is organized,” he said. Those libraries that have tried to teach good search principles have failed, he continued, because they have spent “too much time trying to teach tools and not enough time trying to teach concepts.” It would be more useful for librarians to focus training sessions on how to "critically think through how to construct a strategy for finding information about a topic that is unknown to you," Asher said in a follow-up e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.
[click on the link for the rest of the story....]
Professors D. Easley and J. Kleinberg, provide a thorough investigation of the above fundamental questions in their very recent book entitled: "Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World". They borrow ideas from a set of disciplines that span a huge spectrum of knowledge, ranging from applied math to sociology. Going forward needed is a holistic view of complex networks and a new paradigm of thinking in network analysis, and this book definitely works towards this direction.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 08, 2010
Today, many of us understand and appreciate the overwhelming abundance of information available at our fingertips. There is too much content to consume and crucial educational resources can get lost in the pile. Librarians have a wealth of knowledge and specifically know:
- How to research & evaluate content
- How to use different resources for different purposes
- How to determine validity and appropriation
- How to think critically
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
It seems surprising that an academic living along the Nile had such detailed knowledge of northern Europe -- and it's certain that Ptolemy never took his own measurements in the Germanic lands. Instead, researchers believe he drew on Roman traders' travel itineraries, analyzed seafarers' notes and consulted maps used by Roman legions operating to the north.
So basically, Ptolemy was doing what these researchers in public health were doing:
Culotta and two student assistants analyzed more than 500 million Twitter messages over the eight-month period of August 2009 to May 2010, collected using Twitter’s application programming interface (API). By using a small number of keywords to track rates of influenza-related messages on Twitter, the team was able to forecast future influenza rates.
What was once old is new again!
Friday, September 24, 2010
This second problem has been the topic of many a book critical of the corporate model. The importance of having a historical grounding in higher education and academic life can be seen in Ellen Schrecker’s The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University (New York: The New Press, 2010). Schrecker, a historian who has written a couple of other books on McCarthyism and the academy, started this book as an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education comparing the fate of academic freedom in the McCarthy era with that after 9/11. Schrecker holds the university to a high ideal in regard to its importance in American life: “The academy protects the American mind. In a world of sound bites and bullet points, the nation’s campuses are among the last few places where it is still possible to deal with complicated ideas or entertain unorthodox opinions. Professors are the nation’s main public intellectuals; they raise the questions with which an informed citizenry must deal. They are, therefore, essential to the preservation of the reasoned debate and unfettered expression that our democratic system requires” (p. 4). Schrecker tackles a lot of critical issues, such as the changing nature of tenure, the rise of contingent faculty, due process for academics, faculty governance, curricular debates, campus radicals, canon and culture wars, and the changing academic structure from teaching to research, from students to revenue, and from education to vocational training. She concludes with an essay on the implications of the current Great Recession on the university and these issues affecting academic freedom (giving us a suitable warning for navigating into the future).
From my vantage these kinds of issues has become a particular problem in professional schools in higher education. Even before the emergence of the idea of the corporate university, commentators on the university sometimes struggled to fit into their model just what professional schools represented, with their own foot in the murky world of professions and their other foot in the world of research, scholarship, and theory. So, I have tried to tackle this in my The Demise of the Library School: Personal Reflections on Professional Education in the Modern Corporate University (Duluth, MN: Library Juice, 2010) placing the present and future of professional education for librarianship in the debate on the modern corporate university. The book is a series of meditations on critical themes relating to the education of librarians, archivists, and other information professionals, playing off of other commentators analyzing the nature of higher education and its problems and promises. Debates about the nature and value of professional education in general and library education in particular have continued over the past century. While many aspects of these debates have not changed in substance, the changing nature of the modern university has brought new dimensions (and, at times, more acrimony) to these discussions. Librarians and library educators have written extensively about professional education, but much of the literature has focused on internal professional community issues and avoided consideration of the evolution of the modern research university (where many of these schools are located) to a disturbing new corporate model bringing new pressures and conflicts to bear on the traditional library school. This book addresses my own sense of what has occurred with professional education and bringing to bear my perspective as an educator of archivists, my teaching of a doctoral seminar about the role of faculty in professional schools in the research university, and my extensive reading over the years about the nature and ongoing development of higher education. I am writing about what the corporate university represents, the role of faculty in professional schools in the university, interesting tensions between what traditional library faculty have done in the past and new demands on them to be relevant in the present digital era, the evolution of library schools into schools of information science and now information schools, the debates about individual credentialing and programmatic accreditation, and the influences of new aspects of such education such as the preparation of archivists and preservation administrators. This is not intended to be a research study, but it is a highly personal reflection intended to generate new discussion about the nature of professional education.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The characteristically American view of private property, supported by the tradition of common law, is that an individual can control their property, but not their body or reputation, after death. Boston College Law School professor Ray Madoff provides a guide to the development of American law about the rights of the dead, building on her previous work on estate and trust law. While academics have considerable evidence of the power of dead hands, surrounded by – and working in - eponymous institutions which provide an ongoing advertisement of the generosity of the dead, they have also seen the wishes of the dead overturned, perhaps most recently in the relocation of the Barnes Foundation collection.
Plainly written, this work charts the development of American property law in regard to achieving immortality, complete with the unsettling prospect of the success of cryonics, which would add a third category of “not really dead” to the previously binary concepts of life and death. Her discussion of the economic values of copyright and right of publicity, which is particularly relevant to this community, cautions against the chilling effect the current legislation has on creative expression, as it increasingly locks up archetypes, effectively removing them from artistic circulation.
Her strongest statement on the abuse of the notion of private property is that rights of publicity and copyright have become corporate assets, artificially extending the life of the individual creator to the benefit of others. “It is significant that the areas in which American law has grown most dramatically – dynasty trusts, charitable trusts, copyright, and rights of publicity – not only appeal to individuals’ desire to exert posthumous control but also appreciably benefit corporate interests. By using interests of the dead as a decoy, these entities have succeeded in enriching their own property interests.” (pp. 155-156)
Overall, a troubling work, particularly as it illustrates that the law reflects societal values in which increasing rights are granted to the dead without regard to the cost to the living.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
A very interesting and well-documented example of this empowering of the empowered can be found in the work of Solly Benjamin and his colleagues looking at the impact of the digitization of land records in Bangalore. Their findings were that newly available access to land ownership and title information in Bangalore was primarily being put to use by middle and upper income people and by corporations to gain ownership of land from the marginalized and the poor. The newly digitized and openly accessible data allowed the well to do to take the information provided and use that as the basis for instructions to land surveyors and lawyers and others to challenge titles, exploit gaps in title, take advantage of mistakes in documentation, identify opportunities and targets for bribery, among others. They were able to directly translate their enhanced access to the information along with their already available access to capital and professional skills into unequal contests around land titles, court actions, offers of purchase and so on for self-benefit and to further marginalize those already marginalized.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
... should more properly be regarded as an economic [impediment], as witnessed by a robust and mature CAPTCHA-solving industry which bypasses the underlying technological issue completely. Viewed in this light, CAPTCHAs are a low-impact mechanism that adds friction to the attacker’s business model and thus minimizes the cost and legitimate user impact of heavier-weight secondary defenses. CAPTCHAs continue to serve this function, but as with most such defensive mechanisms, they simply work less efficiently over time.
Here is a very interesting article on the gender and influence on the social web. The article presents some data on web usage by gender (such as the one below )
In terms of influence, the results depend on what you are looking at: across the general population, women were more influential, but there were more males than females when the top influencers were considered. As for the data, I don't know how he determined gender ... if it was based on self-reported results, then they may be somewhat suspect, for, as everyone knows, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog"
Monday, August 09, 2010
In the end, most of the "metadata problems" that Google's engineers are trying to solve are very, very old. Distinguishing between different editions of a work, dealing with mistitled and misattributed works, and sorting out dates of publication—these are all tasks that have historically been carried out by human historians, codicologists, paleographers, library scientists, museum curators, textual critics, and learned lovers of books and scrolls since the dawn of writing. In trying to count the world's books by identifying which copies of books (or records of books, or copies of records of books, or records of copies of books) signify the "same" printed and bound volume, Google has found itself on the horns of a very ancient dilemma.
Google may not (or, rather, certainly will not) be able to solve this problem to the satisfaction of scholars who have spent their lives wrestling with these very issues in one corner or another of the humanities. But that's fine, because no one outside of Google really expects them to. The best the search giant can do is acknowledge and embrace the fact that it's now the newest, most junior member of an ancient and august guild of humanists, and let its new colleagues participate in the process of fixing and maintaining its metadata archive. After all, why should Google's engineers be attempting to do art history? Why not just focus on giving new tools to actual historians, and let them do their thing? The results of a more open, inclusive metadata curation process might never reveal how many books their really are in the world, but they would do a vastly better job of enabling scholars to work with the library that Google is building.
Friday, August 06, 2010
There is little evidence to back such theories up, however. Rather than conducting surveys, these would-be visionaries base their arguments on impressive individual cases of young Internet virtuosos. As other, more serious researchers have since discovered, such exceptions say very little about the generation as a whole, and they are now avidly trying to correct the mistakes of the past.
Numerous studies have since revealed how young people actually use the Internet. The findings show that the image of the "net generation" is almost completely false -- as is the belief in the all-changing power of technology.
A study by the Hans Bredow Institute entitled "Growing Up With the Social Web" was particularly thorough in its approach. In addition to conducting a representative survey, the researchers conducted extensive individual interviews with 28 young people. Once again it became clear that young people primarily use the Internet to interact with friends. They go on social networks like Facebook and the popular German social networking site SchülerVZ, which is aimed at school students, to chat, mess around and show off -- just like they do in real life.
This article suggests that this may not be true in general, and it also points out the need for education in information literacy.
A major study conducted by the British Library came to the sobering conclusion that the "net generation" hardly knows what to look for, quickly scans over results, and has a hard time assessing relevance. "The information literacy of young people has not improved with the widening access to technology," the authors wrote.
A few schools have now realized that the time has come to act. One of them is Kaiserin Augusta School in Cologne, the high school that Jetlir, Tom, Pia, and Anna attend. "We want our pupils to learn how to use the Internet productively," says music teacher André Spang, "Not just for clicking around in."
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
The Amazon.com Kindle e-reader and bookstore have reached a "tipping point," the company said Monday, with Kindle titles outselling hardcover books on the massive online marketplace for the first time.
"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle--the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in an announcement release, referring to last month's price drop for the device. "In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books--astonishing, when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years and Kindle books for 33 months."
This may not be surprising given what Amazon has invested in the Kindle and may be biased by Amazon's patron demographics, but it is interesting nonetheless.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We've seen authors in the past complaining that libraries are engaged in book theft, which is an argument that is pretty laughable -- though, has, at times been suggested by various publishing groups. But, in general, most people recognize the public service a library does by helping to educate people. So when some folks in Bulgaria decided to try to set up a user-generated online library of sorts, you wouldn't think that the site would get raided by the police, be declared "damaging to culture," and have its organizers described as an organized crime syndicate. But, that's what happened.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Researchers found that salary actually varied inversely with IT penetration: the more computers were involved, the less workers were paid. Highly educated workers are able to offset this effect with the positive influence of education-IT interaction— they can integrate new technologies into their workflow. Less-educated workers, on the other hand, are left blank-faced in front of a computer screen.
This negative IT effect results from computers' ability to replace workers at unskilled tasks, according to the scientists (for example, word processing software now stands in for typesetters). More importantly, workers below a certain education threshold lack the resources to adapt their skillset. Once they are replaced, they have difficulty finding other work, and it is increasingly hard to find unskilled jobs that haven't been co-opted by IT.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Using within‐student variation in home computer access, and across‐ZIP code variation in the timing of the introduction of high‐speed internet service, the authors demonstrate that the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high‐speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.
“Breaking the textbook monopoly: Most states have passed legislation that requires textbook publishers to make textbooks affordable. Faculty members, sympathetic to their students, have embraced online open educational resources (OERs). More faculty create and share openly their course materials, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, and other tools. Although widely accepted seminal OERs exist for introductory courses, faculty create materials for advanced courses based on their own knowledge and interests, inviting student contributions.
Bridging the scholar/practitioner divide: Open peer review becomes the norm for many fields, speeding application of discoveries. Online publications, by scholarly societies in partnership with trade organizations and professional associations, are open access. They support robust community-based dialogue on articles as soon as they are accepted via traditional editorial procedures. Scholars and practitioners alike discuss the findings, how the theory would apply in practice, and suggest additional research needed.
Everyone is a "nontraditional" student: The interwoven nature of work/life/school is accepted in higher education as life spans increase and students are unable to fund tuition in one lump. Co-op education is widely embraced and faculty increasingly value students' life experience. Knowing what the work force wants, students are active in designing their own learning outcomes, and the personalized curriculum becomes the norm. Faculty members evaluate students on demonstrations of learning -- such as policy documents, marketing plans, or online tutorials -- rather than old measures based on “seat time” and “credit hours.”
Meet the new freshman class: With laptops in their hands since the age of 18 months old, students who are privileged socially and economically are completely fluent in digital media. For many others, the digital divide, parental unemployment, and the disruption of moving about during the foreclosure crisis of their formative years means they never became tech savvy. “Remedial” computer and information literacy classes are now de rigueur.
Right here with me: Students “talk” through homework with their handheld devices, which issue alerts when passing a bookstore with material they need to cite. Scanning the title page, this information is instantly embedded in proper citation style with an added endnote. Checking in on location-based services, students locate study team members and hold impromptu meetings without the need for study rooms. Their devices have whiteboards and can share notes with absent members.”
The ACRL report can be found at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/issues/value/futures2025.pdf
Thursday, June 24, 2010
More grist for the mill!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Experienced newspaperman Fuller provides an interesting analysis of the state of journalism, tying the fate of news coverage not to the fate of print and ink publishing but to the condition of our society and the need for honest, reliable reporting. Fuller covers the emergence of journalism as a profession, the development of its principles and methods, the challenges offered by television and then the Internet, and suggestions regarding its future. Fuller does not defend traditional journalism, but he, instead, shows where the field needs to accommodate new readers and technologies. While independence and verification must remain, Fuller suggests that other traditional notions, such as neutrality and disinterestedness, may be far less important or relevant.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
May 17, 2010 from CNN:
"Unlike paper books or e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, which does not emit its own light, the iPad's screen shines light directly into the reader's eyes from a relatively close distance. That makes the iPad and laptops more likely to disrupt sleep patterns than, say, a television sitting across the bedroom or a lamp that illuminates a paper book, both of which shoot far less light straight into the eye, researchers said."
...Although you should read the rest of the story and see the video from CNN, because some people don't agree...go to http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/05/13/sleep.gadgets.ipad/
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
[ http://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/2010/scout-100507-re.php#5 ]
Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next [pdf]http://pewresearch.org/millennials/
Some might ask: What is a millennial? The short answer is "the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium." The Pew Research Center first started looking at this group in 2006, and this 149-page report released in February 2010 was edited by Paul Taylor and Scott Keeter. The report notes that the millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults, and that they are less religious and on track to become "the most educated generation in American history." On this site, visitors will find the complete nine-chapter report, along with the survey methodology and appendices. Visitors can also read an executive summary of the report here,view video from the Pew Research Center regarding the report, and also take a short quiz on millennials.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Darden is one of a handful of schools that decided to give the larger-screened Kindle DX a trial run in select classes to see how well it fared in the academic environment. And, it's not the first to conclude that the Kindle isn't quite right for its students. Arizona State University recently completed its own pilot program for the Kindle DX and wasn't particularly impressed—the university also settled a lawsuit with the American Council for the Blind, agreeing to use devices that were more accessible to the blind in the future. Princeton was also underwhelmed by its Kindle test; one student described the device as a "poor excuse of an academic tool" in an interview with the Daily Princetonian.I wonder how the outcome of this experiment will bode for those schools who have "leaped forward" with the iPad"?
Monday, May 10, 2010
Nelson clusters much of his concern around the corporate university. For example, he concludes, “Many of the values higher education has traditionally promoted – from free inquiry to a commitment to the public good – cannot remain credible if a university adopts the employment policies of a ruthless corporation” (pp. 58-59). Nelson laments the likely failure or loss of interest of the corporate university in “educating students to be critical participants in a democracy” (p. 73). While some may applaud the end of such an educational agenda, the implications are dire: “The flawed public image of our ethical status undermines academic freedom and diminishes every element of our mission. A university that acts like a corporation cannot expect to be viewed as anything else” (p. 78). In this sense, No University Is Like An Island joins a growing chorus of case studies, memoirs, and research about the implications of the corporate university model.
The difference with Nelson’s book, one that is certainly part memoir of his work with the AAUP, is its focus on faculty (individually and collectively) responsibility for what has happened in the academy. There has been a loss of collective memory amongst the faculty: “The loss of institutional memory among the faculty makes for a wonderful opportunity for higher education’s corporate managers: they can remake higher education without objection from a faculty that does not know the difference” (p. 74). Nelson attributes this to tenured faculty who have become self-absorbed and the growth of and reliance on contingent faculty: “Two generations of tenure-track faculty – obsessed exclusively with their academic disciplines – have been distracted and inattentive as the character of campus decision making has been gradually transformed. This trend has been accelerated by the growing number of contingent faculty lacking the job security that undergirds academic freedom and shared governance” (p. 105). One result of such inattention is the potential loss of tenure altogether, creating grand challenges down the road. First, there is the problem of how academic administration will evolve: “The world without tenure is a world of administrative fiat – first over all elements of shared governance, then over academic freedom as it applies to faculty speech in public and in the classroom” (p. 92). Second, there is the matter of just what a future faculty might look like. Nelson states, “We have seen the future, and the faculty is not there” (p. 194).
Despite a lot of pessimism or cynicism, Nelson constantly reminds the reader that there is always the possibility of taking corrective action. He pounds home this point by charting the changes that have occurred with the AAUP in the past few decades, as it has become a more proactive watchdog about academic affairs. Nelson argues that we need to learn from our mistakes: “Bad decisions indeed tend to haunt us, remaining teachable moments that last for decades” (p. 125).
The sense of academic memory and action is what one takes from the book. Indeed, from my own perspective of serving as a program chair and SIS Council Chair I have become concerned about the rapid growth in self-assessment, planning, and other related activities that engage more and more of our time. My concern is not a need to resist such demands, but more about how we can transform the process into useful individual and collective evaluation that strengthens our work rather than distracting us from our research and teaching. This is something I will be wrestling with over the summer as I prepare for a new academic year. I believe we have a long way to go before we learn how to do such work sensibly and in a fashion that protects our own roles as university faculty.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Among many other functions, a traditional operating system coordinates access by applications to the underlying resources of the machine - things like the CPU, memory, disk storage, keyboard and screen. The operating system kernel schedules processes, allocates memory, manages interrupts from devices, handles exceptions, and generally makes it possible for multiple applications to share the same hardware.
As a result, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that "cloud computing" platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine, or Microsoft Azure, which provide developers with access to storage and computation, are the heart of the emerging Internet Operating System.
Cloud infrastructure services are indeed important, but to focus on them is to make the same mistake as Lotus did when it bet on DOS remaining the operating system standard rather than the new GUI-based interfaces. After all, Graphical User Interfaces weren't part of the "real" operating system, but just another application-level construct. But even though for years, Windows was just a thin shell over DOS, Microsoft understood that moving developers to higher levels of abstraction was the key to making applications easier to use.
But what are these higher levels of abstraction? Are they just features that hide the details of virtual machines in the cloud, insulating the developer from managing scaling or hiding details of 1990s-era operating system instances in cloud virtual machines?
The underlying services accessed by applications today are not just device components and operating system features, but data subsystems: locations, social networks, indexes of web sites, speech recognition, image recognition, automated translation. It's easy to think that it's the sensors in your device - the touch screen, the microphone, the GPS, the magnetometer, the accelerometer - that are enabling their cool new functionality. But really, these sensors are just inputs to massive data subsystems living in the cloud.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
The report also finds that 31% of online adults have used social tools such as blogs, social networking sites, and online video as well as email and text alerts to keep informed about government activities. Moreover, these new tools show particular appeal to groups that have historically lagged in their use of other online government offerings-in particular, minority Americans. Latinos and African Americans are just as likely as whites to use these tools to keep up with government, and are much more likely to agree that government outreach using these channels makes government more accessible and helps people be more informed about what government agencies are doing.
"Just as social media and just-in-time applications have changed the way Americans get information about current events or health information, they are now changing how citizens interact with elected officials and government agencies," said Research Specialist Aaron Smith, author of the report. "People are not only getting involved with government in new and interesting ways, they are also using these tools to share their views with others and contribute to the broader debate around government policies."
Read more » http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Government-Online.aspx
For the full article, go to http://harvardmag.com/pdf/2010/05-pdfs/0510-36.pdf
Thursday, April 29, 2010
In either case, it's the #1 most frequently emailed article from the Times today!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Ellen's comment: Hmmm, do we know if this happens to faculty too?
Students and Their Social Media Addictions: American college students -- cut off from social media for 24 hours -- use the same words to describe their feelings as as associated with those addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to a new study by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda, at the University of Maryland at College Park. In the study, 200 Maryland students were asked to abstain from using social media for 24 hours and then to write their feelings. The words frequently used: in withdrawal, frantically craving, very anxious, extremely antsy, miserable, jittery and crazy.
Susan D. Moeller, a journalism professor at Maryland and the director of the center that conducted the study, said that students see social media as key to their relationships with others. She said that researchers "noticed that what they wrote at length about was how they hated losing their personal connections. Going without media meant, in their world, going without their friends and family."
The University of Maryland press release is at http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu/sociss/release.cfm?ArticleID=2144
The study itself is at http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com/
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
He writes, “New York's Gramercy Park is a curious institution: two acres of fenced-in greenspace that is accessible only to those who own the houses surrounding the park. (Non-residents must either stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel or join the Players Club or National Arts Club if they want to visit, and each of these institutions has a limited number of park keys.) Private parks like it are the exception, of course, not the rule: since the days of Frederick Law Olmsted, who campaigned for and designed city parks across North America (Central Park, in New York, and Montreal's Mount Royal Park among them) we have come to expect most of our recreational spaces to be public…The near-universality of public parks and playgrounds in our physical spaces makes it all the more striking that the online world contains almost no spaces that are genuinely public.”
Johnson argues that online services like Facebook, Google, Hotmail, and Youtube are pseudo-public spaces; they are for-profit services that go to great lengths to seem like a public space. Johnson concludes with these questions: “If Gramercy Park had been the model for our municipal parks -- if we had to pay to let our children use them, whether directly in money, indirectly through advertising or data collection, or a mixture of both -- would we stand for it? Or would we demand that our governments provide true public spaces where all our children could play?”
Media Awareness Network: http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/index.cfm