Music Notation as a Medium for Thought [...]

Music notation, created in the ninth century, took a long time to change how music was composed. But eventually it led to new ways of thinking about music.

In the ninth century, European musicians began experimenting with notations to record plainchant. The initial notations were rough. They didn’t precisely denote either pitch or rhythm, and were intended more as an aid to memory than as a recording medium. But they improved. In the 11th century, Guido of Arezzo introduced the musical staff, making it easy to record pitch. And in the 13th century, Franco of Cologne suggested using a written note’s appearance to signify duration. These and many other ideas led to modern musical notation.

Written music originated as a recording medium, but became a creative medium in its own right. It made it much easier to compose complex, intricate music for many instruments and voices. This paved the way for Bach’s fugues, Beethoven’s symphonies, and much else. Written music became a medium for thought, a medium which expanded the range of musical ideas a composer could have, and thus changed music itself. It’s an example of a cognitive medium – a media environment to support and enable thought. (Source)

Age of the Incunable shows a similar process with print.

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A new post [...]

Well, Mike was awesome and helped me set this up. Thanks!

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Truth in Sentencing Grant Program [...]

The real issue with the 1994 Crime Bill does not seem to be the Three Strikes law, which had a trivial effect on incarceration, but with the Truth-in-Sentencing (TIS) Grant Program which encouraged states to adopt truth-in-sentencing provisions and provided funds to deal with the anticipated increase in prison populations.

Here is what the TIS Incentive provision was about:

Title II, Subtitle A of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (“Crime Act”) (Pub. L. 103-322), established the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing (VOI/TIS) Incentive Grant Program. The program assisted states in their efforts to remove violent offenders from the community and encouraged states to implement TIS laws. Originally administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Corrections Program Office (CPO), the program was transferred to OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) in November 2002 after an OJP-wide reorganization merged CPO with BJA. (Source)

The Truth-in-Sentencing provision distributed nearly 2.7 billion dollars to the states, most of which went to the expansion of the prison system.

See also Most Three Strikes Laws Had Little Impact on 1990s Incarceration

The True Impact of Federal Three Strikes was minimal.

Racial Composition of California Three Strikers [...]

California’s three strikes law is not necessarily more biased than the rest of the criminal justice system, but because the criminal justice system as a whole is biased against minorities the provisions exhibit and magnify the racist impact of the system.

Chart is from a lawyer’s firm site, would like a better source. (Link)

Washington State Three Strikes [...]

After 20 years, the state expected a total increase of 885 inmates, or a 9% increase over 1992 levels. This estimate will have to be dramatically lowered since only 83 criminals have been sentenced under the law after just over three years (December 2, 1993-December 20, 1996). This is about one-third of the expected total. (Source)

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Bounds of Federal Three Strikes [...]

The federal version of three strikes was much more bounded than the California law. From a memo describing the provisions of the law to federal prosecutors, here is when it can be applied:

The “Three Strikes” statute is sufficiently important to our violence enforcement efforts that I want to underscore its key provisions. Under the federal “Three Strikes” provision, which is now codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c), the defendant receives mandatory life imprisonment if he or she:

  • is convicted in federal court of a “serious violent felony” and
  • has two or more prior convictions in federal or state courts, at least one of which is a “serious violent felony.” The other prior offense may be a “serious drug offense.”

Under the statute, a “serious violent felony” includes murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, kidnapping, robbery, and any offense punishable by 10 years or more which includes as an element the use of force or that, by its nature, involves a significant risk of force.

The statute also enumerates certain nonqualifying felonies, including unarmed robbery offenses and arsons that posed no threat to human life. (Source)

See California Three Strikes for the provisions which made that law so much more damaging.

The Three Strikes Memo encouraged federal prosecutors to use the Three Strikes provisions to increase jail time.

The Three Strikes Memo [...]

The Federal Three Strikes law was underused by federal prosecutors in the first years after its enactment. This led to the 1995 Three Strikes Memo, encouraging prosecutors to make better use of the law in their existing cases.

This provision should play a key role in every district’s anti-violent crime strategy. To help us make the most effective use possible of this potential tool, please ensure that state and local prosecutors are aware of the federal “Three Strikes” provision and your willingness to coordinate prosecutive decisions in cases that are “Three Strikes”-eligible. You should have in place a referral mechanism, perhaps through your violent crime working group, to ensure that appropriate “Three Strikes” cases are presented to you for potential prosecution.

In determining whether to bring prosecutions under this statute, you should be guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution. Trial of an eligible defendant under “Three Strikes will often provide a more effective punishment than a prosecution under,other federal statutes. For the state prosecutor, “Three Strikes” provides a vehicle to take the most dangerous offenders out of the community and keep them out. This is particularly important in states where prison overcrowding results in early release even for violent criminals. (Source)

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California Arrest Rates Rose After Crime Bill [...]

California arrest rates rose after passage of 1994 crime bill though it is unclear if this was a result of the extra police on the street.

The 1998 RAND r

Most Three Strikes Laws Had Little Impact on 1990s Incarceration [...]

While the California Three Strikes law imprisoned thousands of people due to its harsh provisions, the effect of three strikes laws in most other states was muted or non-existent. By 1996, the federal system had less than ten three strikes conviction, as did twelve of the states with such provisions.

From a 1998 RAND Report:

Not surprisingly, as a result of these smaller triggering-offense lists and incremental changes, much smaller numbers of offenders have been sentenced under these laws. For example, by the end of 1996, Washington had admitted only 85 offenders to prison under its law, which went into effect a year earlier than California’s (Clark, Austin, and Henry, 19971.0 By September of that year, six states which had implemented three strikes in 1994 or 1995 had not sentenced any offenders under the law.* Twelve other states and the federal system each had ten or fewer three-strikes convictions (Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy, 1996). (Link)

Black Silent Majority notes that black communities were active in 1970s tough on crime campaigns.

California Three Strikes goes into details on the California law, which was harsh.

The federal three strikes law had little impact on incarceration rates, at least at first. See True Impact of Federal Three Strikes
Washington State Three Strikes started the whole thing, but applied to very few criminals.

California Three Strikes [...]

The California Three Strikes law is the harshest in the nation, and often the law that forms the boundaries of the debate. Many states have laws called “three strikes” laws, but those laws differ markedly from the California implementation. Here’s a summary from the 1998 RAND report on the subject:

The laws of most states limit strikes-eligible offenses to a small number of violent felonies, and require three strikes to trigger a mandatory sentence such as life with out parole, or 25 years to life. (Source)

In California, the situation is different:

In California, any of an extended list of serious offenses may count as first or second strike. After one strike has accrued, any of approximately 500 felonies triggers the following sanctions: the sentence prescribed by law is doubled, it must be served in state prisonl and “good time” credits earned toward an early release can amount to no more than 20 percent of the full sentence. Any serious felony subsequent to the first strike also results in accrual of a second strike. Once a second strike has been earned, any subsequent felony triggers the third strike and an automatic 25-year-to-life sentence (at least 20 years of which must be served). The triggering of additional sanctions by any felony following a strike (first or second) is principally responsible for the California law’s broad impact. Through 1996, California had sentenced 26,074 prisoners under the enhanced sanctions of its law. This number had increased to 35,411 by the end of 1997 (Lungren, 1998). (Source)

The California Three Strikes Law was not followed by the massive increase in imprisonment that was predicted at the time. However, a 1998 Rand Report attributes that fact to falling crime rates of the time.

From an 1998 Rand Report compiled for the DOJ (Link):

California’s prison population has not increased nearly as much as was predicted. In fact, it has not increased any faster since three strikes went into effect in 1994 than it was increasing in the early 1990s.

The rate of imprisonment per conviction has indeed increased substantially, but it is too early yet to see an increase in the length of time served. The
arrest rate per crime has gone up dramatically, which should also contribute to prison growth. However, changes in some of the other factors have offset these. Most significant is the decline in the crime rate. When three strikes was implemented in 1994, crime in California had started to drop, but at that point it was unclear whether the drop was just normal, year-to-year statistical variation or the beginning of a trend. Between 1992 (the recent peak year) and 1996 (the latest year for which data is available), it has fallen about 25%. And fewer crimes mean fewer inmates, all other things being equal.

The rate of prison increase in California was the same after the three strikes law as before it.
The rate of prison increase in California was the same after the three strikes law as before it.

Racial Composition of California Three Strikers shows a severe race bias.

True Impact of Federal Three Strikes [...]

The federal three strikes law has become over time the most controversial aspect of the 1994 Crime Bill among Democrats. But what was the actual impact? What we can find in terms of data indicates that the impact of that provision was small at best.

First, to get the major question out of the way: habitual offender laws (as distinct from three strikes laws), enacted on the state level in most cases before 1994, have increased incarceration rates, and those impacts have not been racially neutral. And some 1990s-era state-based three-strikes laws (California’s in particular) have significantly increased state prison populations. This is not in doubt.

But the federal government does not generally prosecute minor crimes, so the the addition of that provision at the federal level would be expected to have very different results. And from what we can find out, it has.

Prior Requirements

One of the first things to note is that the federal government has had a requirement since 1984 that prisoners serve out 85% of their sentences. Since the main target of Three Strikes laws is offenders who qualified for early release, the impact of the law would be expected to be smaller. (Source)

The 1994-1996 Data

Data I’ve found from 1994-1996 seems to indicate that far from the tens of thousands of imprisonments many have attributed to the law, the impact per year was less than 20 or so convictions a year.

That may have been early days, but it’s hard to find data after that. I am surprised that no one has mentioned this data, which I found with less than 10 minutes of research.

I have little doubt it must have increased at some point, although it’s hard to see how we get from 20 people a year to tens of thousands of imprisonments.

A 1998 Reference

A 1998 reference shows the same number — thirty-five — as an up-to-date count (Source):

You’ll notice that a few states have their own Three Strikes Laws under which a large number of people are sentenced. These efforts were independent of the federal law, and the states where such laws had the most impact actually preceded the federal law. They weren’t so much an effect of the federal law as a model for it.

General Trend

Kevin Drum has pointed out that the large effects on black incarceration attributed to the law are statistically impossible anyway, since incarceration of blacks mostly declined after the Crime Bill was passed:

See also California Three Strikes which finds that the population effects of the law were offset by decreases in crime.

Also, Most Three Strikes Laws Had Little Impact on 1990s Incarceration

The federal number of thirty-five comes from Three Strikes Laws: Five Years Later, which sources the number as obtained from the Public Affairs office of the DOJ. (Link)

Kevin Drum makes the argument that black incarceration rates were unaffected by the Crime Bill. This argument deals with both the policing funds and three strikes on the state level. (Link)

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States is a treasure trove of information on the more general issue, and the source of the chart. (Link)

A 1998 Rand Report looks at the issue. (Link)

Death of the Swing Voter [...]

Inattentive voters today see as much difference between the two parties as partisans in 1960.

What is driving the decline in swing voters? Smidt shows that voters are increasingly cognizant of the sharp differences between the Republican and Democratic parties. In fact, a politically inattentive and unengaged American today is as likely to perceive important differences between the parties as a very engaged American was in 1960.

By making it easy for Americans to recognize party differences, polarization has reduced ambivalence and indecisiveness and provided a strong and consistent ideological anchor to Americans’ presidential preferences across time, even for independents and the less aware.

One implication, Smidt notes, is that American voters should be less responsive to election-year forces, like shifts in the economy or other important events. Another is that politicians have less incentive to appeal to swing voters and more incentive to appeal to their loyal supporters.

Of course, shifts in the economy and swing voters could be decisive in 2016 if the election is close enough. But most American voters will supply little in the way of drama or excitement. Predictable partisanship is increasingly the norm.

See also Party Polarization: The Voting Gap

Sexist Architecture [...]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg went to school at a time when the law school buildings did not even have bathrooms for women. This created not only a sense of not belonging, but resulted in practical problems as well.

When the Supreme Court justice went to law school at Columbia in the 1950s, there were no women’s bathrooms in the building. “If nature called, you had to make a mad dash to another building that had a women’s bathroom,” she recalled… It was “even worse if you were in the middle of an exam. We never complained; it never occurred to us to complain.” (Source)

Infrastructure can be an insidious way to enforce racial segregation. See Policy Through Bridge Height

Mothers may be more likely than fathers to transmit sexist attitudes to their children, according to a recent study. See Mothers and Sexist Attitudes

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Berners-Lee on a Harmonious Web [...]

Tim Berners-Lee suggests that the web needs to look at creating UI that amplifies good behavior.

“It’s about building a social network and saying, ‘How’s it going to work? If I can build a social network and people can inject ideas, what’s going to happen to great ideas? If they take off and accelerate, will horrible ideas accelerate too?’

“I wonder about Twitter and the way it’s made, and that people tend to retweet stuff that really gets them going, and that’s not really great. A study showed that people are 10 times more likely to tweet something that made them angry than something that made them joyful.

“So I think we have responsibility to think how to build systems that tend to produce constructive criticism and harmony as opposed to negativity and bullying.” (Source)

Berners-Lee is referring in comments to findings that Anger Spreads Fastest, though that study was not on Twitter, but on a Chinese clone of Twitter.

It’s important to remember that in toxic communities, it’s Not Just the Trolls

Carol Sinder has ideas about Reducing Abuse on Twitter through UI changes.

Too much civility leads to apathy in come cases. See Civility’s Curse

Joel’s Two Observations on UI [...]

Joel Splosky argues that designs have to make sense without manuals or instructions.

When you design user interfaces, it’s a good idea to keep two principles in mind:

  • Users don’t have the manual, and if they did, they wouldn’t read it.

  • In fact, users can’t read anything, and if they could, they wouldn’t want to.

These are not, strictly speaking, facts, but you should act as if they are facts, for it will make your program easier and friendlier. Designing with these ideas in mind is called respecting the user, which means, not having much respect for the user. Confused? Let me explain.

By the last bit, he means you have to assume that users are very very stupid and careless and unfocused. Not because they are that way as people, but because they are that way with your piece of software.

Similar points are mad in Considerate Software

The inventor of the World Wide Web cautions that much web UI incentivizes bad behavior. See Berners-Lee on a Harmonious Web

A good example of this from architecture is Norman Doors.

Norman Doors [...]

Norman Doors are doors that present the user with confusing or conflicting cues on how to operate them. As an example, you can imagine a door with a graspable handle, suitable for pulling, which is meant to be pushed.

The underlying principle is “discoverability”, the idea that the intended use of an object or interface should be discoverable from its design.

Discoverability in Design

The Perfect Team [...]

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues.

In other words, if you are given a choice between the serious-minded Team A or the free-flowing Team B, you should probably opt for Team B. Team A may be filled with smart people, all optimized for peak individual efficiency. But the group’s norms discourage equal speaking; there are few exchanges of the kind of personal information that lets teammates pick up on what people are feeling or leaving unsaid. There’s a good chance the members of Team A will continue to act like individuals once they come together, and there’s little to suggest that, as a group, they will become more collectively intelligent.

In contrast, on Team B, people may speak over one another, go on tangents and socialize instead of remaining focused on the agenda. The team may seem inefficient to a casual observer. But all the team members speak as much as they need to. They are sensitive to one another’s moods and share personal stories and emotions. While Team B might not contain as many individual stars, the sum will be greater than its parts. (Source)

Debt Increase by Age Group [...]

To read the news you might think that debt millennials were suffering under much more debt than previous generations at their age. And that would be true. But less recognized is this: every one in America is straining under much more debt than fifteen years ago, and in fact the younger generations are far less impacted by those trends than the oldest.

As a matter of fact, the late career demographic has experienced increases in debt more than four times that of millennials, possibly due to stagnating or declining wages and housing related impacts.

Not Just the Trolls [...]

Online abuse is often painted as a problem that is confined to a few toxic (and highly active) abusers. But as the makers of League of Legends analyzed their data, they found the problem was much broader than that.

This process led them to a surprising insight—one that “shaped our entire approach to this problem,” says Jeffrey Lin, Riot’s lead designer of social systems, who spoke about the process at last year’s Game Developers Conference. “If we remove all toxic players from the game, do we solve the player behavior problem? We don’t.” That is, if you think most online abuse is hurled by a small group of maladapted trolls, you’re wrong. Riot found that persistently negative players were only responsible for roughly 13 percent of the game’s bad behavior. The other 87 percent was coming from players whose presence, most of the time, seemed to be generally inoffensive or even positive. These gamers were lashing out only occasionally, in isolated incidents—but their outbursts often snowballed through the community. Banning the worst trolls wouldn’t be enough to clean up League of Legends, Riot’s player behavior team realized. Nothing less than community-wide reforms could succeed. (Source)

See also Reducing Abuse on Twitter

Haters are persistent and scary. See The Stalkers of Jimmy Wales

People are more likely to abide by rulings that are not liked if the process to reach them was perceived as fair. See Fair Process Effect

Reducing Abuse on Twitter [...]

Some suggestions from Caroline Sinder on how to limit abuse on Twitter. Interestingly these settings are close to the sorts of things we used to use in political communities to limit abuse, using time on site and connections to others as proxies for the troll/not-troll decisions.

Some of these issues helps stymie trolls, but remember that abusers are Not Just the Trolls

Berners-Lee has noted much Web UI promotes bad behavior. See Berners-Lee on a Harmonious Web

Pew has a 2014 report on abuse on the net. (Link)

Reducing Abuse on Twitter [...]

Some suggestions from Caroline Sinder on how to limit abuse on Twitter. Interestingly these settings are close to the sorts of things we used to use in political communities to limit abuse, using time on site and connections to others as proxies for the troll/not-troll decisions.

WordPress In Education [...]

Rampages at VCU.
UMWBlogs at University of Mary Washington
CUNY Commons
OU Create at University of Oklahoma
CI Keys at Channel Islands
Georgetown Domains
UWGB Domains at University of Wisconsin Green Bay
Rutgers Domains
MiddCreate at Middlebury College
MSU Domains at Michigan State University at Emerson College
BYU Domains at Brigham Young University


BYU’s Bold Plan to Give Students Control of Their Data, EdSurge, December 2015

The Web We Need to Give Students, BRIGHT, July 2015

An E-Portfolio With No Limits, Campus Technology, April 2014

It’s Time for Students to Own the Student Record, EdWeek, February 2015

Some Examples of Cool Faculty Projects

Looking for Whitman

Record of 2010 NEH-funded project where a course was taught across three different campuses using WordPress. Each class researches a different element of Whitman: classes in Virginia researched his connection to the Civil War, at CUNY they looked into his time in New York, and at Rutgers his relationship with Paterson and other New Jersey locations.

Chinese Film Through GIFS

Students analyze Chinese film through the use of stills and animated GIFs they create of pivotal shots and scenes.


Delayed Feedback [...]

Recent studies are breathing new life into delayed feedback. One such study looks at an undergraduate engineering course at University of Texas, El Paso. Students in the course submitted a weekly homework assignment and either received feedback immediately, or a week later. Several weeks later all students completed a similar problem on the exam. The students who received delayed feedback scored higher on the exam than those who received immediate feedback. (Source)

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The Behavioral Perspective [...]

Behaviorism is an approach to psychology that emerged in the early 20th century as a reaction to the psychoanalytic theory of the time. Psychoanalytic theory often had difficulty making predictions that could be tested using rigorous experimental methods. The behaviorist school of thought maintains that behaviors can be described scientifically without recourse either to internal physiological events or to hypothetical constructs such as thoughts and beliefs. Rather than focusing on underlying conflicts, behaviorism focuses on observable, overt behaviors that are learned from the environment.

Its application to the treatment of mental problems is known as behavior modification. Learning is seen as behavior change molded by experience; it is accomplished largely through either classical or operant conditioning (described below).

The primary developments in behaviorism came from the work of Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, Edward Lee Thorndike, and B. F. Skinner.

Ivan Pavlov and Classical Conditioning

The Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was widely known for describing the phenomenon now known as classical conditioning. In his famous 1890s experiment, he trained his dogs to salivate on command by associating the ringing of a bell with the delivery of food. As Pavlov’s work became known in the West, particularly through the writings of John B. Watson, the idea of conditioning as an automatic form of learning became a key concept in the development of behaviorism.

Photograph of Ivan Pavlov. He is older with a full-white beard.

Watson’s “Little Albert” Experiment

John B. Watson was an American psychologist who is best known for his controversial “Little Albert” experiment. In this experiment, he used classical conditioning to teach a nine-month-old boy to be afraid of a white toy rat by associating the rat with a sudden loud noise. This study demonstrated how emotions could become conditioned responses.

Old photo of Little Albert during conditioning.

Thorndike’s Law of Effect

Edward Lee Thorndike was an American psychologist whose work on animal behavior and the learning process led to the “law of effect.” The law of effect states that responses that create a satisfying effect are more likely to occur again, while responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur.

Skinner’s Operant Conditioning

“Operant conditioning,” a term coined by psychologist B. F. Skinner, describes a form of learning in which a voluntary response is strengthened or weakened depending on its association with either positive or negative consequences. The strengthening of a response occurs through reinforcement. Skinner described two types of reinforcement: positive reinforcement, which is the introduction of a positive consequence such as food, pleasurable activities, or attention from others, and negative reinforcement, which is the removal of a negative consequence such as pain or a loud noise. Skinner saw human behavior as shaped by trial and error through reinforcement and punishment, without any reference to inner conflicts or perceptions. In his theory, mental disorders represented maladaptive behaviors that were learned and could be unlearned through behavior modification.

Behaviorism Today

In the second half of the 20th century, behaviorism was expanded through advances in cognitive theories. While behaviorism and cognitive schools of psychological thought may not agree theoretically, they have complemented each other in practical therapeutic applications like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been used widely in the treatment of many different mental disorders, such as phobias, PTSD, and addiction.

Some behavior therapies employ Skinner’s theories of operant conditioning: by not reinforcing certain behaviors, these behaviors can be extinguished. Skinner’s radical behaviorism advanced a “triple contingency” model, which explored the links between the environment, behavior, and the mind. This later gave rise to applied behavior analysis (ABA), in which operant conditioning techniques are used to reinforce positive behaviors and punish unwanted behaviors. This approach to treatment has been an effective tool to help children on the autism spectrum; however, it is considered controversial by many who see it as attempting to change or “normalize” autistic behaviors (Lovaas, 1987, 2003; Sallows & Graupner, 2005; Wolf & Risley, 1967).

Parking Subsidy [...]

Parking has been largely dealt with through regulations on developers, and this process has shielded consumers from the true cost of parking. Parking spaces add a couple hundred to your rent, make food at the grocery store more expensive, and increase your taxes. But because these policies do this whether you own a car or not, most people don’t associate these costs with cars.

America began its love affair with parking in the 1940s and ’50s, when car use exploded. Panicked cities realized they would soon run out of curb space, but they didn’t want to discourage car ownership or build enough public transit. So instead they passed minimum parking requirements: If a developer wanted to erect a new office or apartment building, it had to build parking. For residences, typically two spots per household are required. And in general, cities calculated the highest peak amount of parking a location might need and demanded that developers build it.

Way back in the 1960s, UCLA’s Shoup became alarmed by the massive growth of parking. As he saw it, the problem was that in most people’s minds, the spaces seemed to be “free.” When developers are forced to build parking, the cost is folded into the purchase price, be it a home, an office, or a restaurant. And when people don’t pay to park at the curb (only a tiny fraction of curbside spots in the United States are metered), it’s the city that pays to build and maintain that spot. These costs are passed down to consumers and taxpayers, but since they’re never itemized, they’re easy to ignore. In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, for example, housing prices are sky-high, but the city doesn’t charge me to park on the street. When I tell this to Shoup, he points out that if they did charge me, the odds are high that I’d never have bought my car. When a city provides free parking, it’s also economically unfair, since it’s a subsidy available only to those who are wealthy enough to own cars. (Source)

Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza [...]

Over the years Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza has been Franco Evangelisti, Ennio Morricone, Egisto Macchi, Mario Bertoncini, Walter Branchi, John Heineman, Roland Kayn, Frederic Rzewski, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Giovanni Piazza, Antonelli Neri, Jesus Villa Rojo, and Battisti D’Amario, among others.

They were a collective of improvisers, founded in 1966, and based primarily in Italy. They are still active in some incarnation today. Gruppo di improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza bridge territories between Jazz, Musique-Concrete, Serialism, and other tenants of avant-garde classical music, with plenty of free-spirited experiment. This is a German documentary about them, made by Theo Gallehr in 1967. It has English subtitles. (Source)

Break Down All the Barriers [...]

Hillary Clinton started playing with an idea as the New Hampshire primary approached, an over-arching theme that can turn what has sometimes seemed a grab-bag of goals into a coherent message. And after some tweaking, it’s coming together, and may work not only as a primary critique of Sanders but as a general campaign message as well.

The idea? “Break down all the barriers.”

As Politico’s Bill Scher notes, the idea comes out of a critique of Sanders’ views on racial inequality. As Ta-Nahesi Coates has observed, Sanders’ “economics first” approach to racial inequality denies the systemic nature of it. Voter ID laws, mortgage redlining, incarceration, and the wage gap all have economic elements. But fix the economic issue, and these problems don’t disappear. There are barriers that have nothing to do with money, as anyone who has had to deal with systemic discrimination knows. (Politico)

Clinton has picked this message up and run with it. As Politico notes, she mentioned “barriers” six times in a recent town hall, and I’ve heard it a number of times since then. And I’m hoping we’ll hear it even more.

It’s a brilliant refocussing of the campaign message for a number of reasons.

First, and most obviously, it’s the first succinct critique I’ve heard Clinton give of Sanders. Mind you, the critique she has been giving has been, more or less, this same critique, but it has been scattered, and often come across as a desperate plea for people to understand that she “is presenting more comprehensive policy than Sanders, and why can’t people see she is going further than Sanders?”

No one bought that. It seemed that it couldn’t possibly be true.

But here is a message which drives home that, to at least some of our youth, the guns we pump into our cities are as much a barrier to equality as is access to college. Here is a message that reminds us that the health care debate is, for the majority of our population, also a reproductive rights debate, where “establishment” groups like Planned Parenthood desperately need our help. It’s a reminder that Wall Street couldn’t care less one way or another about the right to choose, and yet access to abortion is being legislated out of existence one state at a time.

Secondly, it’s a message of hope fit for the disillusioned. It’s warm and fuzzy while nodding to the very real political and social environment we find ourselves in.

Third, it meshes with incrementalism. There’s going to be a lot of different barriers, and each one removed is a victory we should celebrate. In that way it’s also a justification of the progress Obama has made during his own presidency.

Fourth, it is a message that can be used, perhaps (add caveats here), for middle-class independents as well. Lack of parental leave is a barrier. Lack of equal pay. Lack of access to child care is a barrier. Lack of public transportation. Most people can think about their potential and the sometimes frustratingly small barriers that prevent them from achieving it. But most people don’t think of those things in terms of policy, and really, they should. Most people realize that Republicans talk about taxes, but ignore all the other things in your way.

Finally, it resonates with her personal story, in which she broke down a number of barriers for women, and is campaigning to break “the biggest barrier of them all” in becoming the first women president.

There was a point I knew that I was with Clinton last fall, and it came out of a fascinating but blunt conversation she had with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Responding to how social change comes about she says:

“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”

From a person who has been accused of waffling and pandering and poll-testing every statement, well, it felt like none of those things. I’m not going to say it was “authentic”. Authenticity, in case you haven’t figured out yet, is a lie we tell ourselves so we can vote for people like us without feeling biased.

But that answer came from somewhere deep, from the immovable core of what it means to be Hillary Clinton. Racism is systemic; and the answer to it is not to be better people or “raise all boats” — the answer to it is to change the system. I think that is her true passion — identifying the sometimes unexpected ways that policies can affect outcomes (and doing it at an often dazzling level of detail), and I think she’ll run a much better campaign using a message that taps into that passion.

Final note: It would make a great slogan too for a Clinton-Warren ticket. This is Elizabeth Warren’s passion as well — not the broad Sanders critique, but the detailed investigation of all the policy levers that produce the current outcomes (if you haven’t read her book on the Two-Income Trap, you need to). I know Clinton-Warren is wishful thinking, but here’s hoping anyway.


July 23, 2015 [...]

Mid-july was a turning point for the Clinton campaign as the email issue trickled out and was often misrepresented by the media.

The article, on July 23, said the Justice Department had been asked to open its own investigation into whether the Clinton email cache violated rules for classified material, worrisome enough for a presidential campaign. Worse, the first version on the paper’s website reported that the probe was “criminal” and focused specifically on Clinton. The paper later corrected the story to clarify the investigation was into the “security” of the emails—and the campaign demanded the Times investigate how editors had permitted such a high-stakes mistake to occur. But the damage had already been done. The story not only had a second life, but it seemed to confirm the charges of critics who claimed Clinton wasn’t telling the truth. (Source)

Three Horizons Model [...]

A McKinsey Model for growth that emphasizes balancing pressing demands with time spent on larger goals and more distant but potentially more earth shattering threats.

Mike Goudzwaard summarizes the Three Horizons as:

  • Horizon 1 (H1): keeping the lights on and fixing problems
  • Horizon 2 (H2): improving services and processes
  • Horizon 3 (H3): transformative experiments (R&D)

Kristen Eshelman notes that McKinsey has found effort on these issues far out of proportion with what companies actually desire. Here’s where companies allocate resources:


Cowen’s Beast Model of Education [...]

Tyler Cowen likens education to becoming a Marine: it’s a process of acculturation, and the degree is a symbol that you have undergone that acculturation.

I view education as a self-commitment to being a more productive kind of person. Education is about self-acculturation.
Men are born beasts. But education gives you a peer group, a self-image, and some skills as well. Getting an education is like becoming a Marine. Men need to be made into Marines. By choosing many years of education, you are telling yourself that you stand on one side of the social divide. The education itself drums that truth into you.
The beasts model differs from classic signaling theory. If education is pure signaling, just give everyone a standardized test in seventh grade and then close up the schools. But the process of self-image formation, at least for most people, is far from complete at that point.
That being said, education will look like what the signaling model predicts. It will be about subtle brainwashing, image, and learning markers of status. What the signaling model misses is how important those features are for your subsequent productivity.
Nerds will hate education and tend to embrace the signaling model. Their sense of self is often formed quite early, and they do not why so much time should be wasted in school. This is one reason why the signaling model is so popular in economics. (Source)

Non-Elite Colleges Demonstrate Better Teaching [...]

Teachers at non-elite colleges did much better than their elite counterparts in helping students learn.

…they [the researchers] found that on only one of the five measures, cognitive complexity of the course work, did the elite colleges in the study outperform the nonelite institutions.

On two, standards and expectations of the course work and the level of the instructors’ subject matter knowledge, there were no meaningful differences by prestige level. On two others, though — the extent to which the instructors “surfaced” students’ prior knowledge and supported changes in their views, the lower-prestige institutions outperformed the elite ones. (Source)

Incentives Change Thinking [...]

Tyler Cowen notes a study that shows that the promise of a reward for behavior distorts our perceptions of that behavior.

When you know you might be paid to eat an insect, you sample more “yum-pro-insect” propaganda, and you interpret it more favorably. Furthermore subjects do not in advance predict these self-persuasion effects. So “bait and switch” marketing techniques may succeed in warming individuals up to ideas, even if the promised prize is eventually yanked. (Source)

On a less disgusting note, consider someone who is asked to move to Detroit as part of a job promotion. In an ideal market they would weigh the downsides of moving to Detroit against the upsides of the raise ad promotion. In reality, the promise of the raise will push them to notice net-positive information about Detroit and miss negative information.

As Cowen notes, the perceptions may continue to exist, even if the prize is yanked. So, for instance, if suddenly the job is not going to pay more it will not change the impression we have built up about Detroit as a place to live.

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Income Contingent Loans [...]

This week, Purdue University [partnered]…with Vemo Education, a Reston-based financial services firm, to explore the use of income-share agreements, or ISAs, to help students pay for college.
Through its research foundation, the school plans to create ISA funds that its students can tap to pay for tuition, room and board. In return, students would pay a percentage of their earnings after graduation for a set number of years, replenishing the fund for future investments.


Fermat’s Library [...]

Fermat’s Library is a platform for illuminating academic papers. Just as Pierre de Fermat scribbled his famous last theorem in the margins, professional scientists, academics and citizen scientists can annotate equations, figures and ideas and also write in the margins. Every week we send you a new paper annotated by the community. (Source)

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Small SF Stories [...]

Brad Delong notes that speculative fiction forms the basis of much more than fiction.

Back in 1759, the man who was to become the first economist, young Adam Smith, a Scottish moral philosopher on the make, wrote in his Theory of Moral Sentiments of how “a stranger to human nature, [seeing] the indifference of men about the misery of their inferiors . . . [would conclude that] pain must be more agonizing, and the convulsions of death more terrible, to persons of higher rank, than to those of meaner stations.”

There is no such alien stranger. Smith is telling us of somebody who does not exist. It’s a very short, eighteenth-century science-fiction story. Why? Because we love to tell one another false stories, to converse about imaginary people, be it in philosophical treatises or in television serials. It is what we do as humans.

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Prime Vietnam Directive [...]

The Prime Directive of Star Trek (or at least the embrace of it) may have evolved out of U.S. ambivalence about Vietnam. It was part of Rodenberry’s vision of “progressive humanity”.

The Prime Directive of “Star Trek: TOS” is primarily a way to process America’s 1960s misadventure in Vietnam. Would that more generals and chickenhawks dreamed dreams that taught them of the limits of foresight and calculation, the surprising nature of war, and the unlikelihood of success if you start by breaking things. I first recognized that “Star Trek” was a very different kind of show back in the 1960s, when at the end of “Arena” Kirk neither kills nor civilizes the Gorn, but lets him go to make his own destiny.
Gene Roddenberry mostly wanted to find a way to get people to pay him to make up stories, so that we wouldn’t have to take a job that required a lot of heavy lifting. But he also wanted to tell particular stories. The stories he wanted to tell were those that would be the dreamwork for a better future. He wanted to tell stories of a progressive humanity. He wanted to tell stories about people in a better future in which governmental institutions were smart enough to stay out of Vietnam and people weren’t obsessed with leaky roofs and food shortages. He wanted to tell stories in which racial prejudice was as silly and stupid as it, in fact, is. He wanted to tell stories in which it would be normal for a woman to be if not #1 at least #2 as first officer of a starship. He wanted to tell stories in which everyone–even the Red Shirts–was an officer, a trained and well-educated professional treated with dignity and respect by their peers and superiors. (Source)

Hamilton’s Pragmatism [...]

Brad DeLong and co-author Cohen write:

Jefferson has gotten the better monuments and the better press in both newspapers and history books (but not in musicals, where the brilliant Lin Manuel-Miranda and his colleagues’ rap/rock rules). But in policy and in the real material arc of history, it is Hamilton who looms as the giant. He was the architect of the boldest, most original, and most important deliberate reshaping of the economy of the United States of America. Adam Smith’s ideas dominated and continue to dominate economics textbooks. But it is Hamilton’s more pragmatically oriented corrections to laissez-faire and to Smith’s ‘System of Natural Liberty’ that have successfully shaped development strategy for successful ‘late developers’ like Germany, Japan, Korea, and China—and, to a substantial degree, the United States.

The lesson is that ideologies—no matter what they are—are bad masters. Hamilton’s genius was in focusing on not what was decreed according to ideological first principles laid down by some academic scribbler, but rather focusing on what was in a pragmatic sense likely to generate prosperity at that moment in that situation.

Hamilton broadly got it right. His successors who continued his policies under decent Jeffersonian draperies also got it right. The post-Civil War decision to go for a heavily-industrialized economy knit together by continent-spanning railroads got it right. The Progressive course correction of the inequities produced by the Gilded Age got it right. So did the—overwhelmingly pragmatic—policies of FDR and of Eisenhower.

It is only in the past generation that we have forgotten our pragmatic past and applied ideological litmus tests to what our public policies will be. And we have suffered for it.


The 500,000 [...]

Here is the primary database for what we know about the Atlantic Slave Trade which lists 305,326 slaves brought to the USA. Gates goes on to note that some 60-70 thousand slaves initially brought to the Caribbean ended up in the United States so he estimates that perhaps 450,000 African slaves in total were brought to the U.S. over the course of the slave trade.
If you want to understand the slave trade it’s important to understand that the vast majority of the slaves taken from Africa were shipped to the Caribbean and South America. If you want to understand slavery in America it’s important to understand that most slaves in the United States were born into slavery. Also, as Gates notes, it’s a rather striking and amazing fact that “most of the 42 million members of the African-American community descend from this tiny group of less than half a million Africans.” (Source)

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A Mentor In Every Pot [...]

In general, research does support the benefits of mentoring — when it’s done well. When graduates had mentors in college who helped them pursue their goals and dreams, they were 1.9 times more likely to say that they were engaged at work, according to the 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index. Other research has found links between formal mentoring programs and both academic and professional success.

Good mentoring also has positive effects on mentee attitudes. But if the mentee isn’t satisfied with the relationship — if the mentoring is low quality — those effects don’t show up.(Source)

Ethnic Attrition [...]

In “ethnic attrition”, ethnic populations are understated as later-generation descendants of immigrants begin to self-identify as belonging to the dominant class. (e.g. people of Hispanic origin might start identifying as white).

Because of data limitations, virtually all studies of the later-generation descendants of immigrants rely on subjective measures of ethnic self-identification rather than arguably more objective measures based on the countries of birth of the respondent and his ancestors. In this context, biases can arise from “ethnic attrition” (e.g., U.S.-born individuals who do not self-identify as Hispanic despite having ancestors who were immigrants from a Spanish-speaking country). Analyzing 2003-2013 data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), this study shows that such ethnic attrition is sizeable and selective for the second- and third-generation populations of key Hispanic and Asian national origin groups. In addition, the results indicate that ethnic attrition generates measurement biases that vary across groups in direction as well as magnitude, and that correcting for these biases is likely to raise the socioeconomic standing of the U.S.-born descendants of most Hispanic immigrants relative to their Asian counterparts. – See more at: (Source)

Grade Nudge [...]

From a recent paper by Ben O. Smith (University of Nebraska — Omaha) and Dustin R White (Washington State University – School of Economic Sciences)

Information provided at the moment a person is making a decision can influence behavior in predictable ways. The United Kingdom’s Behavioral Insights Team have used this idea to help improve the insulation of lofts, collect taxes and even reduce litter. We demonstrate that a similar approach works with students’ grades. We provide software that appends a personalized message to each assignment in the class. This ‘grade nudge’ explains precisely how the assignment will impact their final grade given the student’s current standing in the class. Our randomized trial suggests that the nudge improves student performance. Surveys conducted at the end of term suggest students would like to receive nudges in all of their classes. (Source)

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NYPL Public Domain Collection [...]

The New York Public Library’s public domain collection of photographs and documents online. (Link)

Note: one fascinating thing they have is a ton of menus:

Policy Through Bridge Height [...]

Robert Caro discusses his shock at understanding how seemingly neutral infrastructure decisions were being used to enforce segregation. Here he discusses Robert Moses, a city planner who built racism into the city’s architecture. The example: he built 180 or so bridges too low for buses to pass under, effectively keeping black users of public transport out of broad swaths of the city.

I remember his aide, Sid Shapiro, who I spent a lot of time getting to talk to me, he finally talked to me. And he had this quote that I’ve never forgotten. He said Moses didn’t want poor people, particularly poor people of color, to use Jones Beach, so they had legislation passed forbidding the use of buses on parkways.

Then he had this quote, and I can still he him saying it to me. “Legislation can always be changed. It’s very hard to tear down a bridge once it’s up.” So he built 180 or 170 bridges too low for buses.

We used Jones Beach a lot, because I used to work the night shift for the first couple of years, so I’d sleep til 12 and then we’d go down and spend a lot of afternoons at the beach. It never occurred to me that there weren’t any black people at the beach.

So Ina and I went to the main parking lot, that huge 10,000-car lot. We stood there with steno pads, and we had three columns: Whites, Blacks, Others. And I still remember that first column—there were a few Others, and almost no Blacks. The Whites would be go on to the next page. I said, God, this is what Robert Moses did. This is how you can shape a metropolis for generations. (Source)

Trucks still routinely get stuck under these bridges, and occasionally crash into them.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg also discussed Sexist Architecture.

Hostile Architecture is often used to repel homeless, drug-using, or teenage populations.

More on Moses in Robert Moses and the South Bronx

Suicide Rates Fall in Russia [...]

New figures show that the number of suicides in Russia has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years. Such low levels were last seen at the end of Nikita Khrushchev’s rule and in Leonid Brezhnev’s first years in power

How Virtual Reality Limits Imagination [...]

Immersive virtual experiences are immersive precisely because they do not display “overt assemblage”. The design is covert, hidden. While this creates engagement and fluidity, it also puts the structure of the information (and its attendant conclusions) beyond the reach of the player.

From a description of the early 2000 edutainment piece The Lost Museum:

That was our intention. We quickly learned, however, that we had fallen
into a pattern that is seemingly intrinsic to the spatial interactive game
approach. Instead of expanding the historical imagination of users and
promoting their active inquiry, we had actually limited the choices open to
them, in particular curtailing their ability to make informational linkages
and to draw their own conclusions. In short, the narrative outcomes were
preordained, confirming only the predominance of designers over users—
as demonstrated by ‘test’ audiences of teachers and students who gleefully
clicked on different 3-D exhibits but professed utter bewilderment about
the significance of what they found. (On the coercive power of the multimedia
designer, see Cubitt 2000, pp. 167–168.)

Florilegia [...]

Florilegia were compilations of excerpts from other writings, mashing up selected passages and connecting dots from existing texts to better illustrate a specific topic, doctrine or idea. The word comes from the Latin for “flower” and “gather.” The florilegium is one of the earliest recorded examples of remix culture — a Medieval textual Tumblr. (Source)

See also Wiki Wiki Hypercard

Primary Fear [...]

One of the things most people don’t understand about the current state of American politics is that most legislators don’t fear general elections. They fear primaries.

The recent death of Scalia demonstrates this. Why did the Republicans immediately say they wouldn’t approve any justice instead of using their leverage to get a more conservative candidate. A tweeter explains:


Why is this the case now? A perfect storm of urban/rural demographics, the Big Sort, gerrymandering, and the decay of party power. Money makes a difference too, in that external money can now match what the party used to provide.

This is true on the Democratic side as well, though a little less so, as Democrats are generally a bit less secure in the general election due to urban/rural dynamics and gerrymandering.

Commodity Sculpture [...]

In the 1980s, a variation of found art emerged called commodity sculpture where commercially mass-produced items would be arranged in the art gallery as sculpture. The focus of this variety of sculpture was on the marketing, display of products. These artists included Jeff Koons, Haim Steinbach, and Ashley Bickerton (who later moved on to do other kinds of work).

One of Jeff Koons’ early signature works was Two Ball 50/50 Tank, 1985, which consisted of two basketballs floating in water, which half-fills a glass tank (an influence on Damien Hirst).

Commodity sculpture is to the consumer age what Objet Trouve was to the industrial age.

A parallel in the age of Twitter might be Horse_ebooks

The 1980s took a commodity turn. See Commodity Activism

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The Authenticity Hoax [...]

Yet according to Andrew Potter, when examined closely, our fetish for “authentic” lifestyles or experiences—organic produce and ecotourism, bikram yoga and performance art, the cult of Oprah and the obsession with Obama—is actually a form of exclusionary status seeking. The result, he argues, is modernity’s malaise: a competitive, self-absorbed individualism that creates a shallow consumerist society built on stratification and one-upmanship that ultimately erodes genuine relationships and true community.

Weaving together threads of pop culture, history, and philosophy, The Authenticity Hoax reveals how our misguided pursuit of the authentic exacerbates the artificiality of contemporary life that we decry. Potter traces the origins of the authenticity ideal from its roots in the eighteenth century through its adoption by the 1960s counterculture to its centrality in twenty-first-century moral life. He shows how this ideal is manifested through our culture, from the political fates of Sarah Palin and John Edwards to Damien Hirst and his role in contemporary art, from the phenomenon of retirement as a second adolescence to the indignation over James Frey’s memoir. From this defiant, brilliant critique, Potter offers a way forward to a meaningful individualism that makes peace with the modern world. (Source)

Commodity Sculpture attempted to deconstruct the division between consumer and artistic culture.

Cordless Phones Kill Privacy [...]

From Popular Communications, June 1991:

On April 20th, The Press Democrat, of Santa Rosa, Calif., reported that a scanner owner had contacted the police in the community of Rohnert Park to say that he was overhearing cordless phone conversations concerning sales of illegal drugs. The monitor, code named Zorro by the police, turned over thirteen tapes of such conversations made over a two month period.

Police took along a marijuana-sniffing cocker spaniel when they showed up at the suspect’s home with a warrant one morning. Identifying themselves, they broke down the door and found a man and a woman, each with a loaded gun. They also found a large amount of cash, some cocaine, marijuana, marijuana plants, and assorted marijuana cultivating paraphernalia. (Source)

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Hospital Hit by Ransomware [...]

For more than a week, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has been in a state of emergency after a malware attack shut down the network unless a ransom of $3.6 million was paid.

The attack has compromised the hospital’s ability to care for patients as medical professionals have been unable to access patient records such as lab reports, X-rays and MRI results.

Ransomware is a specific type of malware that holds a network or single machine hostage until a ransom is paid. Once hackers get their cash, functionality is returned to the machine or network. (Source)

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Children of BBS [...]

The basic Web forum is easiest to recognize as the lineal descendant of the original world of BBSes, but the BBS is actually the ancestor of nearly all conversation models on the Web

  • Blog-comment models
  • Reblogging and backtracking models (blog-to-blog relays and conversations)
  • Comment aggregation (Disqus)
  • Email groups
  • Wall-to-wall chatter on Facebook
  • Hashtag based transient conversations on Twitter
  • Web forums (generally bolted on to a community that does other things as well)
  • News aggregation/discussion sites.
  • General announcement lists/boards

The one conversation model that was clearly not present in the BBS world was wikis. Wikis are, in my opinion, the only fundamentally new conversation model on the Internet that arose independently of the BBS/Usenet family tree. The basic metaphor for wikis is the blackboard as a collective, harmonized, canonical, erasable, editable, conversational memory. By contrast the bulletin board is more of a cacophony, where the only source of privileged status for a piece of content is recency of creation. The two metaphors are conceptually distinct, and one cannot be derived from the other, which is why wikis had to be invented separately. (Source)

The history of wiki predates the web. See Wiki Wiki Hypercard
Wiki Inversions is a start at looking at how wiki inverts traditional structures.

Anger Spreads Fastest [...]

Chinese researchers find that anger spreads faster than sadness, happiness, or joy on the Twitter-like social network Sina Weibo.

They gauged various online emotions by tracking emoticons embedded in millions of messages posted on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging platform. Their conclusion: Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than rage. The researchers found that users reacted most angrily—and quickly—to reports concerning “social problems and diplomatic issues,” like a 2010 incident where a tainted food additive was believed to cause a neurodegenerative disease or when an international shipping dispute prompted an eruption of nationalist rage against Japan.

In many cases, these flare-ups triggered a chain reaction of anger, with User A influencing Users B and C, and outward in a widening circle of hostility, until it seemed all of Sina Weibo was burning. The users, according to the study’s authors, passed along these messages not only to “express their anger” but to instill a similar sense of outrage among other members of their online community on Sina Weibo—one of the only venues where the Chinese can circumvent government restrictions on traditional forms of media. (Source)

In the long run, anger can drive people away from communities. See Too Many People Have Peed in the Pool, Own Worst Enemy

Some argue for Vulgarity as Ethos, claiming it necessary to disrupt status quo.

Human networks are surprisingly resistant to viral phenomenon, due to Degree Assortativity

For the most part, people aren’t really arguing, they are just flying a flag. See Identity Headlines

Too Many People Have Peed in the Pool [...]

A bit of quitlit from Stephen Fry on why he is leaving Twitter:

To leave that metaphor, let us grieve at what twitter has become. A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian.

But Stephen, these foul people are a minority! Indeed they are. But I would contend that just one turd in a reservoir is enough to persuade one not to drink from it. 99.9% of the water may be excrement free, but that doesn’t help. With Twitter, for me at least, the tipping point has been reached and the pollution of the service is now just too much. (Source)

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Dads and Sexist Attitudes [...]

Dads who have egalitarian ideas about gender — and who walk the talk by doing household chores themselves — have daughters with higher workplace ambitions than less egalitarian fathers do, new research finds.

The research is correlational, so it doesn’t prove that fathers’ attitudes are the cause their young daughters’ work aspirations. But the research may suggest that girls look to their fathers for examples of what is expected of women. Dads’ attitudes also predict what kind of play their daughters enjoy. (Source)

Possibly contradicted by Mothers and Sexist Attitudes

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Mothers and Sexist Attitudes [...]

It appears that the mother is a figure who has greater influence in the transference of discriminatory behaviour. According to Garaigordobil, “the degree of sexism in the mother is more linked to that of her sons or daughters in comparison to the influence of the father.”

The study was carried out using a sample of 1455 adolescents between 11 and 17 years of age along with their mothers and fathers (764 and 648). It highlights the strong influence that the mother has on her sons and daughters and also the influence that the father has on their sons. (Source)

Preference for Female Voices in electronic devices comes more from women than men.

Oswald and Pawdthavee [...]

They analyzed data from the British Household Panel Survey — a study of British families who have been interviewed once a year since 1991 — and found that fathers with three sons and no daughters were far more likely to vote for conservative candidates than were fathers of three daughters and no sons.

But a counter-argument:

“Recent studies seem to prove that women with higher levels of testosterone — who are more likely to display dominant, positive behaviours — seem to produce more sons than daughters. Women with lower levels of testosterone, who are more likely to be empathetic and better listeners, tend to produce more daughters. It could be that the women who are most likely to produce daughters pick a partner who is closer to her more empathetic attitude to life. Hence people who are already more liberal may produce more daughters and those who are already conservative may produce more sons.” (Source)

Relevance Theory [...]

Relevance Theory is a theory of linguistics that attempts to explain how deep and specific meanings are derived out of lightly specified speech acts.

Party Polarization: The Voting Gap [...]

![]( Shot%202013-09-23%20at%2012.26.43%20PM.png “From The Atlantic.”)
[Source](#source “Source:

When the political parties in the U.S. were ideologically diverse (and arguably, more corrupt) there was less party unity. The Gingrich revolution began a process of escalation that has not stopped since.

There Is No Dark Side of the Moon, Really [...]

The Moon has a far side (a side that is always facing away from earth) but has no dark side. As the moon passes between us and the sun the far side is bright side. As the Moon goes around the other side, the near side is the bright side (and we see it in the sky).

As the far side has generally been more exposed to objects from deep space it is also the more rugged of the two sides.

The title of this post is from the end of the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon. At the end of it, the doorman to Abbey Road studios says “There is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact it is all dark.” He’s talking about the lack of an atmosphere, presumably. But what a great way to end that album.

Kodak’s Radioactive Moment [...]

Fogged Kodak film.
Photo courtesy of Oak Ridge Associated Universities
Eastman Kodak investigated, and found something mighty peculiar: the corn husks from Indiana they were using as packing materials were contaminated with the radioactive isotope iodine-131 (I-131). Eastman Kodak at the time had some of the best researchers in the country on its team (the company even had its own nuclear reactor in the 1970s), and they discovered something that was not public knowledge: those farms in Indiana had been exposed to fallout from the 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico — the world’s first atmospheric nuclear bomb explosions which ushered in the atomic age. Kodak kept this exposure silent.

Some of the facts in the story are — like the film in question — a little hazy. Some claim Kodak’s discovery happened in 1946, some in 1945. The Trinity Test was officially July of 1945, but I can believe that by the time corn was exposed to the radiation, picked, the husks converted to packing material and the film packaged and sold, it could well have been 1946. Given that the government initially denied that the Trinity Test was even nuclear, instead calling it an “ammunition explosion,” perhaps Kodak’s silence is more understandable

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Franklin and Van Harmelen Wiki Definition [...]

Franklin and Van Harmelen (2007) define a wiki as ‘‘a system that allows one or more people to build up a corpus of knowledge in a set of interlinked web pages, using a process of creating and editing pages” (p.5). Put simply, a wiki is an editable website that is created incrementally by visitors working collaboratively. The most famous example of a Wiki is the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia.

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Don’t Poster, Don’t Tell [...]

An interesting story about the use of copyright to supress free speech about the government, in this case the suppression of critique of military policy around gay soldiers.

Back in 1995, I was running a digital content management company ApolloMedia, which had become embroiled in a dispute with the United States Navy over an old 1976 recruiting poster depicting a black Naval Officer for the first time; the officer was later discharged for being gay. Journalist Randy Shilts had written a comprehensive history of gays in the military to which we had acquired the electronic rights, and the Navy unsuccessfully attempted to prevent us publishing the poster, claiming the Navy seal was copyrighted. (Source)

Temporary Image Storage [...]

Temporary Image Storage (TIS) allows people to upload images for short periods of time on an unindexed server on the web. We’re looking at using a similar setup for upload and import of image into WIkity.

Uploaded images will automatically expire after desired time from 1 minute to 28 days. After that image can’t be accessed anymore throught this site. (Link)

Fair Process Effect [...]

Traditionally, people — especially economists — thought that human behaviour was dictated by outcomes. That is, we seek to maximize our outcomes, like getting a large profit. Consequently, most of the incentives and disincentives in business are outcome-centred like bonuses or suspensions. Working to maximize outcomes is called distributive justice.

In the mid-seventies, the social scientists John W. Thibaut and Laurens Walker combined their research on psychology of justice and the study of process to look into what makes people trust a legal system enough to follow the laws voluntarily. They discovered that people care as much about the fairness of the process as the outcome the process generates. Simply put, people want to be treated like people and not numbers.

Fair Process, or procedural justice, universally requires adherance to three principles:

Engagement. Involve individuals in the decisions that involve them. Get their input, allow them to actively PeerReview the ideas on the table. Respect individuals for their ideas.

Explanation. Everyone involved and affected must understand the reason why the decisions were made. Demonstrating the rationale behind decisions shows people that you have considered their opinions thoughtfully and impartially. Not only will this make people trust the decision maker but it will help them learn.

Expectation clarity. Once a decision is made, clearly specify the expectations for the people involved, what responsibilities they have. Even if the expectations are demanding, people want to know by what standards they will be judged and what penalties there will be for failure. Understanding what to do reduces useless political maneuvering and it allows people to focus on the task at hand.

For an application of the Fair Process Effect on online community management, see Not Just the Trolls

The Fair Process Effect is an input into the Analytics of Empathy

Liberals tend to place a high value on fairness. See Five Channels of Political Tendency

Job Characteristics Model [...]

The job characteristics model predicts engagement of employees with their work. The model is a Multiplicative Model which means if one of the three elements is absent the other elements will have no positive effect.

Job characteristics:

Meaningfulness of work

  • Skill variety
  • Task Identity
  • Task Significance

Result: Experiences meaningfulness.


Result: Experiences responsibility.

Feedback from task

Result: Knowledge of results

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Curse of Knowledge [...]

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties. The effect was first described in print by the economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein and Martin Weber, though they give original credit for suggesting the term to Robin Hogarth.[1]

An example of this bias would be of a tailor selling clothes. Because the tailor has made a dress, he is intimately familiar with the quality of the item in craftsmanship, features, and fabric quality. When pricing a dress for sale, however, he needs to take the point of view of an uninformed customer – someone might be walking into the store with no previous knowledge of the owner, dressmaker, or how difficult or easy the item is to make. The tailor, as hard as he might try to take the point of view of the customer, cannot completely separate himself from the knowledge he has of the quality of this dress, and therefore will assume a customer will value and pay much more for the dress than is actually true.

Another example is provided by clapping out songs.

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Expectancy Theory [...]

Expectancy theory is a theory that attempts to explain how environment influences motivation. The fundamental understanding is that the influence of the environment is multiplicative, not additive, meaning that weak links in the chain cannot always be compensated by stronger elements.

Three components of Expectancy theory: Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valence

  1. Expectancy: Effort → Performance (E→P)
  2. Instrumentality: Performance → Outcome (P→O)
  3. Valence: V(R) Outcome → Reward

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Benign Form of Bigotry [...]

“Generational thinking” (e.g. talking about “millennials” as a group) isn’t based on research, ignores broad and important issues of class and race, privileges an upper-middle-class experience, and has almost no predictive value. It creates narratives that serve to erase broad swaths of our national experience and replace them with anecdotal garbage. So why do we still engage in it, especially in higher education?

In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009 on the pundits and consultants who market information about ‘millennials’ to universities, Eric Hoover described Howe and Strauss’s influential book about that generation, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000), as a work ‘based on a hodgepodge of anecdotes, statistics, and pop-culture references’ with the only new empirical evidence being a body of around 600 interviews of high-school seniors, all living in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia.

Hoover interviewed several people in higher education who voiced their doubts about the utility of Howe and Strauss’s approach. Their replies, informed by their experience teaching college students from across the socioeconomic spectrum, show how useless the schematic understanding of ‘millennials’ looks when you’re working with actual people.

Palmer H Muntz, then the director of admissions of Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, noticed that plenty of kids he encountered on visits to less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial. Fred A Bonner II, now at Prairie View A & M University in Texas, pointed out that many of the supposed ‘personality traits’ of coddled and pressured millennials were unrecognisable to his black or Hispanic students, or those who grew up with less money. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar at the University of Virginia, told Hoover: ‘Generational thinking is just a benign form of bigotry.’ (Source)

Route to Heroin Abuse [...]

As documented elsewhere on wiki, the route to most current heroin abuse is not recreational use, but painkiller addiction:

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, drug use researchers like Kolodny, and even the DEA, what gets people addicted to heroin in places like New Hampshire and Vermont is the over-prescription or ready availability of painkillers like Percocet, OxyContin and Vicodin. When users can’t wean off the drug effectively, they turn to cheaper alternatives, like heroin.

This has immediately deleterious effects, as often upstanding people are then treated like criminals and refuse to seek help in fear of prosecution, which can often end in death.

Opiate-related deaths have quintupled in the state in the last two years.
“There aren’t a lot of people saying, ‘Hm, heroin sounds like a fun drug to try!’ The people who are using heroin are people who have opioid addiction,” said Kolodny, who is also a senior scientist at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy & Management. “Some develop [a painkiller addiction] for taking drugs exactly as they were prescribed.” (Source)

The 1994 Crime Bill and Incarceration [...]

The 1994 crime bill was not responsible for the majority of increase in mass incarceration in the U. S., both because the bulk of the increase was at the state level, and because the bulk of the increase came much earlier.

Depending on your reading of history, mass incarceration was either (a) a reasonable response to a huge crime wave, (b) a defensible idea that got way out of hand, or (c) a racist scourge that destroyed the black community. In fact, there’s a good case that it was all three of these things: there really was a big surge in crime in the 70s and 80s that created a growing pool of violent offenders; even the defenders of mass incarceration mostly agree that it had already gone too far by the early 90s; and it’s difficult to believe that it ever would have gone as far as it did if it weren’t for the contemporary media-political inspired hysteria over black “predators” flooding our neighborhoods.

That said, whatever else the 1994 crime bill did, it didn’t create the carceral state or even give it much of a boost. That had happened many years before.

See also Black Silent Majority and Bernhard Goetz Incident.

A Revolution? Statistically, Not Yet. [...]

One note about the Bernie Sanders win in New Hampshire. It was impressive, meaningful, a bellwether of things to come. But it was not a revolution, at least in the sense that Sanders has used that phrase. And the story is there in the numbers for anyone to see.

The Sanders theory of change is that by capturing marginalized non-voters he will create a wave election which will change the composition and nature of the legislature, and make these impossible policy plans (free college, single payer health care, etc) politically possible. The theory is by taking a moderate tack Obama reduced turnout, which did not give him the level of change he needed in the legislature to implement his agenda.

By tacking unabashedly left, the theory goes, turnout will improve to such an extent that we will no longer need to deal with intransigent Republicans that only fear primaries and not general elections. We’ll have more Democrats and more Republicans that fear the Democratic revolution.

If true, this would radically change politics in this country and make some of the promises Sanders has made feasible.

A good stastistician, then, should ask what the fingerprint of such a revolution would look like in the poll numbers. The answer is pretty simple: regardless of the Clinton/Sanders split we should see new voters in the pool. The sum of Clinton and Sanders votes should be greater than the sum of Democratic votes in 2008. Because if the radicalism of Sanders isn’t generating new voters, that means we end up pretty much where right back where we were in 2009 — a new President with an ambitious agenda and a legislature that is rewarded for sitting on its hands.

It will probably come as no surprise to you, but we are not seeing such a revolution, at least not yet. Turnout on the Democratic side in New Hampshire was actually down over 35,000 votes, despite the fact that the New Hampshire population has grown since 2008. At the very least it’s a 13% reduction in turnout. See 2008 results, 2016 results.

This doesn’t mean the revolution won’t emerge. It may. But when it does we will see it clearly in the numbers, and right now it isn’t there. If anything, in fact, we’re looking at significantly less turnout than 2008, and a governing environment far more in line with what Clinton predicts.

Capitalization in Brief [...]

Capitalization is a pain, and varies from publication to publication. I used to stress out over it, but have come to the following compromise:

  • Capitalize the first word in the title.
  • Capitalize verbs and other important words.
  • Lowercase unimportant words, such as articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
  • But (and here’s the tricky bit) uppercase any word that is five or more letters.
  • In hyphenated words, both words are capitalized


  • Life Among the Wildings
  • Life in the Wild
  • You, Too, Can Win It All
  • Be Careful What You Preach
  • Browser Choice as Proxy
  • Nobel Prize and Artistic Hobbies
  • From Student-Centered to Student Agency
  • The Author Is a Lie

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Schelling Focal point. [...]

A Schelling focal point is a concept from game theory that allows two people unable to communicate with one another to coordinate a decision.

As an example, imagine that you are shown a series of four squares of different sizes; three red and one blue. You are asked to pick the square that your unknown partner will pick, with the assumption that if you pick the same you will both receive an award.

If you’re smart, you pick the blue square, because it most prominently signals singularity.

The idea is not purely academic. People use focal points all the time.

For instance, suppose you get separated in a Mall and have no way to contact a person. Assuming you don’t have any personal information about a person that allows you to guess where they would be, where do you go to meet them: in front of Sears, or in front of the central carousel? The carousel, obviously. It’s the blue square in an ocean of reds.

Suppose you are supposed to meet someone in New York you have never met, and somehow the instructions to meet get garbled. Could you meet them?

Schelling’s original examples involved something like two people told to find each other in New York. You might think this would be impossible, but people often succeed by choosing a psychologically salient time and place — say, the Empire State Building at noon. What’s interesting about this is that they may not even perceive this meeting point as a choice: person A has to do it because he or she thinks person B will do it, and vice versa. (Source)

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The Rube Goldberg Election [...]

Matt Breunig has a good post on why millennial women are so drawn to the Sanders over Clinton. On the policy side, however I see another angle, and it’s exemplified by the difference in their college plans.

Both Clinton and Sanders offer free college of a sort in their plans, with Clinton subsidizing consumers in the current system and Sanders supporting a more traditional (read pre-1980) approach to the state system.

But in building out the current system, Clinton values choice over the reduction of complexity. It continues the Rube Goldberg machine of FAFSA, loans, means-testing, pegging parental income to one year that may not be indicative.

One lesson progressives could learn from Sanders is that choice and access are often opposing forces. Choice creates complexity which reduces access, especially for those people already balancing many obligations and for those people unfamiliar with how to navigate the system (read: lower SES populations, etc).

While there are a number of headwinds against a Clinton presidency, fixing the education plan would be easy. There is already broad bi-partisan support for free community college at the state level, and this forms a good platform to expand state-provided education. Sanders is correct as well that Harvard does not need more tax dollars (and research shows that additional support just reduces endowment-provided aid). She likely cannot pivot now, but if she really wishes to gain the youth vote she will fix the Rube Goldberg mess neoliberalism has made of educational funding when she gets into office, not build on it.

YouTube Voice [...]

So it turns out the “YouTube voice” is just a variety of ways of emphasizing words, none of which are actually exclusive to YouTube—people employ these devices in speech all the time. But they generally do it to grab the listener’s attention, and when you’re just talking to a camera without much action, it takes a little more to get, and keep, that attention. All the videos I used as examples in this article come from popular YouTube accounts, with hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers—in other words, from people who know how to engage an audience.

There are other factors at play here, too. YouTubers’ monologues often speed up and slow down, for example. “Changing of pacing—that gets your attention,” Baron says. And elongating certain words helps change up the pace. People also tend to move their heads and hands a lot in these videos, raise their eyebrows, and open their mouths wider than necessary. (Link)

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Nobel Prize and Artistic Hobbies [...]

If you study Nobel Prize-winning scientists, one of the things that differentiates them from their peers is that they’re way more likely to have artistic hobbies. Galileo is one of my favorite examples of this. One of his great discoveries was he was the first to spot mountains on the moon. And he was looking through a telescope at an image that many of his peers had seen as well. The only reason he spotted it was because he was trained in a particular drawing technique that led him to recognize some of the patterns as mountains. And I think there are all kinds of connections we can draw between artistic engagements in our hobbies and in our leisure time and the actual work we do if only we paid attention to them. (Source)

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Browser Choice as Proxy [...]

I love this study. So I’m sitting at a conference one day and this economist, Mike Housman, presents a study showing that we can predict your job performance and your commitment at work just by knowing what Web browser you use. And I was stunned to find out that people who use Chrome and Firefox — this is in customer service and call center jobs — were better performers on the job. They also, on average, stayed around in those jobs 15 percent longer than their poor Internet Explorer and Safari peers.

And a lot of people hear this study and think: Well, great, if I want to get better at my job I should just download a new browser. Not quite the point, right? The point is: What browser you use signals something about the way that you tend to live your life. If you use Firefox or Chrome, you have to download those browsers; whereas Safari and Internet Explorer — they come pre-installed on your computer, they’re they default. And if you’re the kind of person who just accepts the default, you tend not to take as many original steps as the rest of us.

If you’re somebody who had that instinct to say, you know, “I wonder if there’s a better browser out there,” that’s just a tiny clue that you might be the kind of person who’s willing to reject other defaults in your life too. (Source)

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Cache Invalidation and Naming Things [...]

“There are only two hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation and naming things.”

Phil Karlton

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Bernhard Goetz Incident [...]


On December 22, 1984 Bernhard Goetz shot four young men in a New York subway car, seriously wounding all of them. While the story of what happened varied with the teller the incident became a symbol for frustration with urban crime, and in particular violent crime, which had been on the rise since the late 1960s. Goetz was perceived by many as a folk hero, while others saw in him a disturbing trend toward racist violence and vigilante justice.

Taken in on charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment, Goetz was unapologetic for his actions. Goetz claimed that the teens had been trying to mug him. The teens claimed they were carry screwdrivers as part of a plan to rob arcade games.

Doug Linder explains what happened next:

Barry Allen, Troy Canty, James Ramseur and Darrell Cabey boarded the subway about 1:00 P.M. …The other 15 to 20 passengers on the car, wary of the boisterous gang, moved toward the other end of the car.  At the 14th Streetstation, Bernhard Goetz, age 37, entered the subway car and took a seat near the youths.

When Canty and Allen approached Goetz with their demand for five dollars, they knew nothing of Goetz’s history and how the intense man, dressed in jeans and a windbreaker, would soon transform their lives.  Three years earlier, Goetz had been mugged by three African-American young men and he had a permanently damaged knee to show for it.  He resolved not to be a victim again and regularly carried a .38 revolver in his waistband.

When Goetz asked Canty to repeat what he just said, Canty again asked for five dollars.  As Goetz later would tell investigators, “When I saw his smile and the look in his eye,… I saw they were intending to play with me like a cat plays with a mouse.” He opened fire. Goetz stated that he “started spinning and pulling the trigger, trying to get as many of them as he could.”  The first shot hit Troy Canty directly in the chest. The second shot hit Barry Allen in the back.  The third shot traveled through the arm of James Ramseur and became lodged in his left side. The fourth bullet missed Darrell Cabey.

Goetz moved towards Cabey and said (or at least thought), “You don’t look so bad, here’s another.” He fired a fifth and final shot at point blank range, severing Cabey’s spinal cord. The conductor, after bringing the subway train to a screeching halt, approached Goetz and asked, “Are you a cop?”  “No,” Goetz replied, “I don’t know why I did it.  They tried to rip me off.”

James Ramseur, one of the attackers, committed suicide in 2011 on the anniversary of the attack.(Link)

It’s interesting to compare this to the public reaction after John Lennon’s death. See Death in the Time of Lennon

The black community of the time was also appalled with the level of violence in the city, as they were most affected by it. See Black Silent Majority




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Frinkiac [...]

A tool for creating Simpsons Memes based on searching episodes for quotes and screen captures.

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Dbpedia [...]

DBpedia is a crowd-sourced community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia, and to link the different data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data. We hope that this work will make it easier for the huge amount of information in Wikipedia to be used in some new interesting ways. Furthermore, it might inspire new mechanisms for navigating, linking, and improving the encyclopedia itself.

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Choral Notetaking [...]

A notetaking technique that emerged in the late middle ages. A prominent speaker would give a lecture to many people taking notes at the same time, later to be compiled into a single doucment representing the event.

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Auditory Hallucinations [...]

> Auditory hallucinations are false perceptions of sound. They have been described as the experience of internal words or noises that have no real origin in the outside world and are perceived to be separate from the person’s mental processes.

Path:: Provacative Vision [...]

Provocative Visions
College Degree or Equivalent
Assembling Liberal Education at the Point of the Learner
A Curriculum of Comma Splices
From Student-Centered to Student Agency

From Student-Centered to Student Agency [...]

Student-centered has become a bit of a catch-all, and has now descended into marketing blather. A more provocative idea is to focus on the element of student-centered that deals with student agency. When we do that, we begin to bump into some contradictions at the centers of our institutions.

Gardner discusses agency in the perspective of Milton’s License and Liberty. Liberty is freedom in the context of social obligation, as opposed to the less socially aware license, the absence of obligation. And it’s this notion of liberty that is at the core of the liberal arts.

A prime exmaple of this would be the Personal API, where student are in control of their own data.

Does the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment embrace student agency or ignore it?

Does the Templated Self aid in agency or reduce it?

When we give people agency, they often prefer the familiar even when the unfamiliar might make them happier. See The Recommender’s Paradox

Assembling Liberal Education at the Point of the Learner [...]

A quote from Gardner Campbell: as things get disassembled at the institutional level, it does not necessarily mean they are permanently seperated, We can imagine a world that assembles a liberal education “at the point of the learner”.

He sees this as one of the most massive challenges of faculty development: all faculty have been trained to imagine a narrow disciplinary view of their work.

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A Curriculum of Comma Splices [...]

David Wiley believes if you run the logic of the microcredential to ground you get to a place where higher ordered qualities are valued.

Gardner Campbell replies that in composition, CBE has been a failure, because you end up with a curriculum about comma splices. Measure precisely and you will begin to value the things that can be precisely measured.

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College Degree or Equivalent [...]

David Wiley speculates: What would change if every employer accepted “college degre or equivalent”?

  • We would have to provide value to students.
  • We might only attract students who want to learn from us.
  • The “degree” becomes a lot less meaningful as a unit.

It’s a plausible future, and not necessarily a universally good one. But worth thinking about.

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Provocative Visions [...]

Session from David Wiley, Philip D. Long, Gardner Campbell at ELI 2016:

As technology accelerates and the pace of change opens the door to new possibilities, where is higher education heading for students, institutions, and the ecosystem supporting them? In engaging TED-style presentations, three noted higher education provocateurs will share their distinct visions for the future of learning. Hear from an innovator, a strategist, and an entrepreneur about forces challenging old models and generating new opportunities. Using interactive technology to solicit audience reactions and dialogue, we will explore together how these viewpoints align with, clash with, and illuminate the path forward.

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From Funding to Policy as Driver [...]

David Wiley notes that funding for open material is drying up. But as that stream has dried up, policy has started to fill in the gaps.

Early OER was funded largely by the Hewlett Wave. Newer projects have potential to arise out of government requirements around tax-payer funded materials.

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