Day: January 3, 2013

The Right to Mindlessly Look at You-Tube Videos

Happy New Year!  I hope you are still enjoying a wonderful break.  The holidays for me always mean one thing: a lack of Internet access.  As a duck-ling who is from Deliverance/mayonnaise/4-H country, I’m particularly attuned to the argument UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Frank La Rue, made a couple of summers ago about the human right to Internet access.  Of course I need unrestricted access to my favorite websites – how else am I supposed to procrastinate/ignore in-laws!  But, is Internet access really more than that?   Like La Rue contends, could the Internet actually be an “an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights”?

(Read below to find out)

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Afternoon Miscellany: Latour, Podcasts, and Big Data

This post would be much more interesting if it concerned the nexus of its three subjects. Sadly, it does not.

  1. I’m working on a forum piece with Vincent Pouliot on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) — one written from the explicit perspective of outsiders. We’ve been puzzled by the apparent lack of theorization of “the body” in Latour. For example, if social relations must be ‘fixed’ by physical objects, why isn’t the human body one such object? If any of our readers are able to weigh in, I’d appreciate it.
  2. I’ve been considering discontinuing the m4a versions of the Duck of Minerva podcast. They take much more time to produce than the mp3 versions; most people seem to listen to the mp3 versions anyway. Is there a constituency in favor of retaining the m4a variants, i.e., the ones with chapter markers and static images?
  3. Henry Farrell tweeted a paper by Gary King on setting up quantitative social-science centers. Henry highlights the section on the end of the quantitative-qualitative divide. I’m sympathetic to it: I certainly feel the pull of teaming with computational-savvy colleagues to do interesting things with “big data,” and I find myself often thinking about how it would be neat to use particular data for uncovering interesting relationships. But it also strikes me as a bit cavalier about the importance of questions — and forms of empirical analysis — that don’t fit cleanly within that rubric. Nonetheless, right on the direction that sociological and economic forces are driving social-scientific research.

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Academic New Year’s Resolutions You Won’t Keep

smoking obamaSure we know we don’t stick to New Year resolutions (apparently only 8% of resolutions are fulfilled) but they’re fun to make, right?
In addition to the top 5 New Year’s resolutions that most people don’t keep (losing weight, quitting smoking, going on a diet, stopping a bad habit, and getting more exercise) some of us make professional resolutions. So what do you think are the top 5 Academic New Year’s resolutions you’re likely to break? Here are my guesses/my unrealistic resolutions- feel free to weigh in with yours:

1. Write Every Day
This is like the resolution that never quits. I don’t know a single academic that doesn’t try to commit to this resolution- yet we all fall off the wagon from time to time. Just like when the September issue of Vogue comes out inspiring us to wear uncomfortable shoes more often (no, not you?), the New Year makes me recommit to a new, and often unreasonable word-count quota.

2. Say no more often
I sort of always thought academics were being ego-maniacs or liars when they said they needed to say no to things more often (like when some people brag that they just get too skinny when they’re stressed- wow, still going with the Vogue references). However, the requests for journal/book/proposal reviews, supervision requests, reference letters etc all do add up. New rules: must be in my DIRECT line of expertise, I must remember the student’s face and they must have visited my office at least once, and- thanks to Dan’s recent encouraging post– no referring for journals that don’t report their final decision to you.

3. Use dragon dictate more…yeah right Continue reading


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