First, I’ve made some progress in updating the academia page — our one-stop shop for our ever-popular posts on the academic life.
Second, I have a general query about awards. As you may know, the voters have clicked and we now have finalists for the 2013 OAIS Awards. The winners will be selected via a pool of judges. The internal consensus seems to be to keep that pool classified this year–not for nefarious reasons, but because the blogging community is small and we want our judges insulated from concerns about hurting feelings. I’m curious if our readership has an opinion on this view.
Fourth, some MOOC-related stuff. If a MOOC crashes and lots of people are around to see, does it impact the movement? For that matter, why wouldn’t the combination of e-books and online quizes be a more efficient alternative than the lecture-based MOOC? Or just books? Regardless, a funny thing happened on the way to the MOOC. Well, two things, actually. Alex Tabarrok waxed poetic about how MOOCs are just like the Oxbridge approach to education — except that they’re not. He also argued how awesome MOOCs are by pointing to his most excellent TED adventure:
I won’t comment on my teaching quality but what I can say without fear of dispute is that the 15 minutes of teaching in my TED talk was among the best 15 minutes of my career. Knowing the potential size of the TED audience, I honed my talk and visuals with months of practice. I’d rather be judged by my best 15 minutes than by my average 15 minutes. My offline students get my average 15 minutes; my online students get my best 15 minutes.
This is just all kinds of wrong. As Eugene Morozov notes in his now-classic The New Republic piece:
Today TED is an insatiable kingpin of international meme laundering—a place where ideas, regardless of their quality, go to seek celebrity, to live in the form of videos, tweets, and now e-books. In the world of TED—or, to use their argot, in the TED “ecosystem”—books become talks, talks become memes, memes become projects, projects become talks, talks become books—and so it goes ad infinitum in the sizzling Stakhanovite cycle of memetics, until any shade of depth or nuance disappears into the virtual void. Richard Dawkins, the father of memetics, should be very proud. Perhaps he can explain how “ideas worth spreading” become “ideas no footnotes can support.”
Now, on to “morning linkage….”
- Why CCP largesse has failed to change the Tibetan image of the PRC as a colonial power.
- So there’s this little memo on drone strikes that everyone’s talking about.
- Dan Trombly on Mali and burden sharing.
- New START, Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS), etc.
- Responses to “Death to Job Talks!” continue to appear. Thomas Oatley provides one of the most interesting takes so far on the subject. Dan Drezner advances a spirited defense of the institution, as does Phil Schrodt. Also Jeremy Pressman — who thinks it might be unreasonable for faculty to read the materials of 10-15 job candidates who might be lifetime colleagues — and Nate Jensen who has some very interesting things to say about how we might work within the current system to improve the quality of decision-making about hiring. Note: the fact that Pressman is likely right indicates nothing good about faculty commitment–including my own–to our jobs.
- The other navel-gazing topic du jour? A renewed attack on federal funding for political-science research. John Sides notices that Eric Cantor wants to zero out social science funding. Kindred Winecoff calls for social scientists to make a thoughtful — rather than knee-jerk — case for why they deserve such funding. John responds. The GOP policy agenda remains the elephant in the room… so to speak.
- Mein Gott! Daniel Little makes me feel like an illiterate putz. Here’s his latest on “the heterogeneous of the social?“
- The latest front in the academic-freedom (or, in this case, Israel-Palestine-on-campus) wars is Brooklyn College. Corey Robin is pleased with the position his leadership has taken.
- The publisher of Warhammer 40,000 claims it has a trademark on “Space Marines.” John Scazli rubs salt in teh stupid (or, perhaps, teh greedy and mendacious?).
- Charlie Stross with more on the evils of Amazon (and some other stuff wrt e-books and self-publishing).
- Robert Pape’s work on suicide terrorism is a bit like Ken Waltz’s Theory of International Politics — a useful foil for people to attack over and over again. Except that Waltz’s theory isn’t self-evidently wrong. Pape’s is. Episode XLVI.
- New pubs from the Quantitative Peace crowd.
- There’s a lot more, but I’m out of steam….