zeitgeist   2786

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15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook | WIRED
Everywhere, in fact, it was becoming harder to be a Facebook employee. Attrition increased from 2017, though Facebook says it was still below the industry norm, and people stopped broadcasting their place of employment. The company’s head of cybersecurity policy was swatted in his Palo Alto home. “When I joined Facebook in 2016, my mom was so proud of me, and I could walk around with my Facebook backpack all over the world and people would stop and say, ‘It’s so cool that you worked for Facebook.’ That’s not the case anymore,” a former product manager says. “It made it hard to go home for Thanksgiving.”
7 days ago by bitfragment
Gallup, Bates report shows graduates want a sense of purpose in careers
The report, "Forging Pathways to Purposeful Work," from Gallup and Bates College, found that 95 percent of four-year college graduates nationally considered a sense of purpose at least moderately important in their work.

But of the graduates who strongly felt that a purpose was important, only 40 percent said they had found a meaningful career. Only 34 percent indicated they were deeply interested in their work, and 26 percent reported that they liked what they were doing on a daily basis.
12 days ago by bitfragment
Counting the Countless: Why data science is a profound threat for queer people
This piece originated as a talk at Seattle University. Well, really it originated as a question from the Seattle Non-Binary Collective, a group of Seattle residents and visitors with genders beyond the binary of “man” and “woman.” They reached out and asked, “We hear you’re a data scientist. Could you do a talk on how trans and/or nonbinary people can get involved in data science?”

I replied, “Well, to be perfectly honest, I think data science is a profound threat to queer existences.” And then for some reason they stopped replying! Who can say why? But it prompted me to reflect on how unexpected my position probably is — how, in a world where data science is often talked of as the future, as a path to a utopian society of perfect understanding, saying that you think data science is a path to cultural genocide makes people doubletake.
12 days ago by bitfragment
Lil Nas X Was A Popular Twitter User Before ‘Old Town Road’
Regardless of the quality of “Old Town Road” and its viral success on platforms like TikTok and its shrewd manipulation of streaming charts, its real launchpad is rooted in the mildly seedy, artificially inflated world of tweetdecking.
zeitgeist  culture  internet 
13 days ago by jbushnell
The Digital Humanities Debacle - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A consolidation of CLS’s findings and results will curb the rhetoric of perpetual novelty. It can’t publish at the rate that it does and still claim the coveted status of a thing yet to come. At some point, we will have tried out the "new" perspective and decided whether or not it was worth exploring. The time to make that decision is now.
27 days ago by bitfragment
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - The Atlantic
Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.
4 weeks ago by bitfragment
Psychological Issues Loom Large in Wake of Boeing 737 Max Crashes
In what can only be described as massive overconfidence, Boeing configured its software to allow a single sensor to activate the MCAS and take control away from pilots, even if the sensor reading is faulty.
5 weeks ago by bitfragment
How the Democrats’ White House hopefuls turned against tech
Warren’s complaint last week that the social media giant "has too much power" might have been a shock coming from a prominent Democrat just a few years ago, when Barack Obama’s public appearances with CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey were typical for a party seeking to boost its appeal to tech-savvy young voters.
5 weeks ago by bitfragment
Nan Z. Da, The Computational Case against Computational Literary Studies | Critical Inquiry: Vol 45, No 3
This essay works at the empirical level to isolate a series of technical problems, logical fallacies, and conceptual flaws in an increasingly popular subfield in literary studies variously known as cultural analytics, literary data mining, quantitative formalism, literary text mining, computational textual analysis, computational criticism, algorithmic literary studies, social computing for literary studies, and computational literary studies (the phrase I use here). In a nutshell the problem with computational literary analysis as it stands is that what is robust is obvious (in the empirical sense) and what is not obvious is not robust, a situation not easily overcome given the nature of literary data and the nature of statistical inquiry. There is a fundamental mismatch between the statistical tools that are used and the objects to which they are applied.
5 weeks ago by bitfragment
Caroline Crampton: Burned Out
[Podcaster burnout]

For Sophie Harper, producer of Not By Accident — a personal podcast that documents her decision to become a single mother and then her life with her daughter — it was a long time building. “I began my podcast in early 2017, naively believing what I was reading: that if I made something good and released it on a regular schedule, I would gradually build an audience, find advertisers and make enough to live off,” she told me over email.

“I had success, got media attention, saw my download numbers explode, partnered with a network and started running ads. Once I had advertisers I felt real pressure to meet the agreed schedule. I’d get sick, or my daughter would, and I’d be forced to keep working around the clock regardless. I was doing the whole thing alone. I listened to the credits of other shows and thought: they don’t know how lucky they are. Once the ad revenue started coming in, I realised it was only really enough to cover the time I’d spent making the ads.”

Burnout is usually defined as a period of mental and physical exhaustion, triggered by sustained stress and anxiety. For Harper, this came in the form of “the pressure, real or imagined, to keep putting out episodes on schedule for ever and ever”. The ongoing, serialised nature of podcasts came up a lot as I was talking to podcasters who had experienced burnout — I’d go as far as saying that it’s a major contributing factor for a lot of people.
6 weeks ago by bitfragment
How UT-Austin’s Bold Plan for Reinvention Went Belly Up - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Noah Stroehle had worked at Austin since 2007. Before Project 2021, he helped faculty transition their courses from Blackboard to Canvas in different teaching centers. That work was arduous, and new leaders took over his team again and again, but he stayed.

Project 2021 was the latest iteration. He was frustrated, not expecting the new program to support lasting change. Uncertainty loomed.

Last year he was laid off. Now, Stroehle hopes to never work at a university again.
7 weeks ago by bitfragment
The Secret History of Women in Coding
From 1984 onward, the percentage dropped; by the time 2010 rolled around, it had been cut in half. Only 17.6 percent of the students graduating from computer-science and information-science programs were women.

One reason for this vertiginous decline has to do with a change in how and when kids learned to program. The advent of personal computers in the late ’70s and early ’80s remade the pool of students who pursued computer-science degrees. Before then, pretty much every student who showed up at college had never touched a computer or even been in the room with one. Computers were rare and expensive devices, available for the most part only in research labs or corporate settings. Nearly all students were on equal footing, in other words, and new to programming.

Once the first generation of personal computers, like the Commodore 64 or the TRS-80, found their way into homes, teenagers were able to play around with them, slowly learning the major concepts of programming in their spare time. By the mid-’80s, some college freshmen were showing up for their first class already proficient as programmers. They were remarkably well prepared for and perhaps even a little jaded about what Computer Science 101 might bring. As it turned out, these students were mostly men, as two academics discovered when they looked into the reasons women’s enrollment was so low.
8 weeks ago by bitfragment
America’s Professional Elite: Wealthy, Successful and Miserable
He earned about $1.2 million a year and hated going to the office.

“I feel like I’m wasting my life,” he told me. “When I die, is anyone going to care that I earned an extra percentage point of return? My work feels totally meaningless.” He recognized the incredible privilege of his pay and status, but his anguish seemed genuine. “If you spend 12 hours a day doing work you hate, at some point it doesn’t matter what your paycheck says,” he told me. There’s no magic salary at which a bad job becomes good.

Basic financial security, of course, is critical — as is a sense that your job won’t disappear unexpectedly. What’s interesting, however, is that once you can provide financially for yourself and your family, according to studies, additional salary and benefits don’t reliably contribute to worker satisfaction. Much more important are things like whether a job provides a sense of autonomy — the ability to control your time and the authority to act on your unique expertise. People want to work alongside others whom they respect (and, optimally, enjoy spending time with) and who seem to respect them in return.

And finally, workers want to feel that their labors are meaningful.
8 weeks ago by bitfragment
How blind reverence for science obscures real problems
Remember that the more recent hoaxers didn’t just content themselves with verbal nonsense (as Sokal did); they also faked data, and not in a way that reviewers should necessarily dismiss without a good reason to do so. Columbia University sociologist Musa al-Gharbi found that the hoaxers’ “purported empirical studies (with faked data) were more than twice as likely to be accepted for publication as their nonempirical papers,” which lends support to this possibility. It’s entirely possible that r...
9 weeks ago by bitfragment
The Ethical Dilemma Facing Silicon Valley's Next Generation
Stanford has established itself as the epicenter of computer science and a farm system for the tech giants. Following major scandals at Facebook, Google, and others, how is the university coming to grips with a world in which many of its students’ dream jobs are now vilified?
10 weeks ago by bitfragment

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