Why Clinton’s TPP opposition unnerves me - Vox
I find this whole reaction to Clinton's TPP position interesting. On the one hand, there's my friend on Facebook who laments that US politicians have lost touch iwth the public and are too cozy with corporations - and then is angry with Clinton for taking poll-tested positions and even says he'll vote for Donald Trump because Clinton flipflops even though one could see her shift as a response to Bernie Sanders on the left. And Ezra Klein despite a much clearer understanding of politics says the same thing; he is discomfited, and he is so as a policy elite. Perhaps worth blogging on - especially how he reverts to talking about how she really feels, in her heart of hearts, etc.
generalinterest  toblog 
16 hours ago
Stop saying 'robot,' it's meaningless | Fusion
Similar to Mindell's radical humnaism

But from now on, I’m taking a vow of accuracy. Whenever possible, I’ll do my best to describe machine behaviors as the automated processes they actually are, rather than leaning on the crutch of robotics. Fewer lazy robot clichés means more attempts to understand the ways automated systems work. And ultimately, the less we say “robot,” the better grasp we’ll have on the mechanics of the machines that run our lives, and the more accountability we’ll insist on for the humans who ultimately control them.
robotics  artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
5 days ago
How to change language in menu - Google Groups
This is fascinating. Sarina here explicitly compares edx's internationalization model to Facebooks. PLATFORMIZATION!

For example, on Facebook some of my friends are from Israel, and others live in Mexico. I speak some Hebrew and Spanish. When I see their posts, their posts are in Hebrew or Spanish, and I respond in Hebrew or Spanish. However, on Facebook I set my preferred language to English, so when I click the posting button, it says "Post" in English, even if I'm responding to a post in Spanish. See here how the content (comments) are in Hebrew, but the interactions (post sticker, Like, timestamps, etc) are still in English, my preferred language:

We follow the same model in Open edX
platformization  facebook  edx  openedx  forums 
6 days ago
The Shiny New "Sharing Economy" Is Sure Starting to Seem Awfully Old-Fashioned
Let's slow down here. What exactly is the "sharing economy"? Originally it was sort of like renting. Time rhapsodized about it in 2011: "The true innovative spirit of collaborative consumption can be found in start-ups like Brooklyn-based SnapGoods, which helps people rent goods via the Internet. Or Airbnb, which allows people to rent their homes to travelers."

Then it morphed into "Uber for ____" companies. Uber, of course, doesn't really allow you to share your car with other people. It's your car and you're the only one who drives it. Rather, it provides infrastructure and scale that allows you to become an on-demand taxicab whenever your schedule allows it.

Now it's apparently morphed even further. In some sense, Uber allows you to "share" your car with your passengers. That's a stretch, but Flex doesn't even provide that. The only thing you're doing is "sharing" your car with the packages you're delivering. By that standard, all of us are part of the sharing economy, since we "share" our bodies and brains with employers in order to accomplish tasks that our employer gives us.

In this case, Amazon is doing nothing more than hiring drivers as independent contractors so that it doesn't have to pay benefits and doesn't have to pay them if there aren't any packages to deliver. (You can pick your own shift, but only if a shift is available.) The only real innovation here is that Flex might1 allow you to work odd hours here and there, which is convenient if you have other commitments that prevent you from working a normal schedule. Mostly, though, it's just Amazon taking the 21st century mania for scheduling workers on a day-to-day basis and instead scheduling them hour-to-hour.
amazon  platformization  sharing_economy  public_discourse 
8 days ago
Is productivity software making us less productive? - Vox
Ezra Klein and creator of Trello Michael Pryor talk about productivit y and creativity in a platformized office
productivity  productivity-tips  platformization 
8 days ago
Silicon Valley's unique politics explained, in 6 charts - Vox
Great survey of the political attitudes of Silicon Valley - the description is closest to what Malaby calls technoliberalism although the author calls it communitarianism
siliconvalley  public_discourse  platformization 
8 days ago
A theory of how American politics is changing - Vox
Ezra Klein offers a hypothesis for why so many weird things have happened in the Republican primaries:

So here's a hypothesis — raw, incomplete, and potentially incorrect — for why politics has been so surprising this year: The tools that party insiders use to decide both electoral and legislative outcomes are being weakened by new technologies and changing media norms. And so models of American politics that assume the effectiveness of those tools — models that weight elite opinion heavily, and give outsiders and insurgents little chance — have been thrown off.

It's an interesting one. What's also interesting is some of the things he says - like for isntance saying that Vox.com had many more Bernie Sanders articles because they saw that they would explode on social media. So is it people who have access to social media who are the new grassroots?
generalinterest  platformization  politics  toblog 
9 days ago
The Perils of Pauline by Renata Adler | The New York Review of Books
I like Kael but I think this review makes very very good points.

She hardly praises a movie any more, so much as she derides and inveighs against those who might disagree with her about it. (“Have you ever bought a statue of a pissing cupid?”) And, like the physical assaults and sneers, the mock rhetorical questions are rarely saying anything; they are simply doing something. Bullying, presuming, insulting, frightening, enlisting, intruding, dunning, rallying. The most characteristic of these questions, in its way, is the one about Alan Alda and the kapok. Had it been phrased declaratively—Alda doesn’t recognize that his material is like kapok—it would still be uninteresting; but it might raise a question of its own. How, in what sense, is it like kapok? (In the same way, perhaps, as Coma is like a prophylactic?) Or if the question had been, at least, addressed to Alda—Alda (God, Bantam Books), didn’t you recognize that your material is like kapok?—it would be clear what is being asked. I would point out, however, that the question (which permits only a yes or no) is still so framed as to compel assent: Yes, I did recognize; No, I didn’t recognize, etc. But to address the question to the reader effectively conceals what is being said (namely, nothing), and attempts to enlist him in a constituency, a knowing constituency—knowing, in this instance, about Alda’s ignorance about this nothing. The same with “Why didn’t anyone explain to him that he needn’t wear himself out with acting?” and all the other trivial, inane interrogations. They express what are not views or perceptions, but blunt devices to marshal a constituency—of readers, other reviewers, filmmakers if at all possible—which has, in turn, no views but a coerced, fearful or bemused, falling in line.
generalinterest  movies 
10 days ago
This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of - Quartz
Good to know about the origins and infrastructure of Stanford's Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. But the article irritated me by constantly referring to the Internet as a pile of shit. Maybe blog about it using Mako Hill's work?
philosophy  stanford  platformization  toblog 
14 days ago
Facebook’s Restrictions on User Data Cast a Long Shadow - WSJ
Facebook is restricting data to its platform-partners. The politics of data all over again.
platformization  facebook  data  politics 
15 days ago
Capitalism and Machines Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly | Mother Jones
Someone needs to give Kevin an STS and history of technology lesson...
16 days ago
My Love-Hate Relationship With TurnItIn - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
I didn't realize this - but Turitin sucks in anything that was offered to it as an input (to check for plagiarism). Interesting...
17 days ago
The Undoing of Disruption - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A profile of Clay Christensen - about the diff. challenges to disruption theory. It's a little strange because it's not a theory -
17 days ago
The real story about how data-driven campaigns target voters - The Washington Post
Fascinating! Money quote:

Q: So what is the really valuable information that campaigns use in targeting, and how does it matter?

By far, the most valuable information that campaigns use in targeting is not data about consumer habits, but data that comes from public records, like the voter registration system, state licensing agencies, and from the Census. Almost everything campaigns know about voters comes from data produced by states and the federal government.

What this means is that campaign databases are a direct consequence of public policies. Laws about data are what create these databases and make them useful to campaigns. Especially interesting is that states differ in the data they produce about the public. In some states, registered voter must declare their racial identity, which becomes a public record. But most states don’t do that. In some states, voters register with a political party, and this becomes a public record. But other states don’t require that.

In my book, I show how campaigns perceive voters differently depending on whether they can obtain key public records from the state. For example, in states that collect partisanship data from voters and distribute that data to campaigns, campaigns focus more on mobilizing partisan supporters and less on persuading undecided voters than in states that don’t collect the data.

Furthermore, in states that don’t collect partisanship data, campaigns have a lot more accidental contact with voters of the opposite party. That’s because they don’t have as good of a sense of which voters are with them or against them. These are consequences of government policy about the collection and distribution of personal data.
platformization  politics  data_science 
18 days ago
Obama's government mind-control team issues annual report
Govt using nudges and behavioral science: unholy confluence of soc psych, online infrastructure and economics
20 days ago
Why the Rich Are So Much Richer by James Surowiecki | The New York Review of Books
This makes some nice points about inequality in the US. Stiglitz's new book includes hte word "learning" in it - "learning societies" - and it's about how developing countries can build a knowledge economy.
20 days ago
Tracking logs field sizes and truncation - Google Groups
Look up this conversation on analytics - it's on the list and in my email. This is an example of data friction - given the logs, some are truncated because they are so long but this matters to researchers.
edx  openedx  forums 
20 days ago
mass mailing to all users? - Google Groups
Pierre has a question about mass mailing from the openedx platform
edx  openedx  forums 
20 days ago
Should Conferences Meet Journals and Where?: A Proposal for 'PACM' | September 2015 | Communications of the ACM
New proposal for making journals relevant to CS again. Apparently, CSeres are complaning that other scientific professionals don't accept it when they claim conferences to be on parity with journals. Which is interesting becuase it must be the case that CS is coming into conflict/competition with other disciplines somehow.
21 days ago
Automated Education and the Professional | September 2015 | Communications of the ACM
Published in the CACM, this article uses Hubert Dreyfus' work to argue that automatic education systems can work with beginners but not with proficient students - because these systems engage in rule-following.
moocs  public_discourse 
21 days ago
Commonsense Reasoning and Commonsense Knowledge in Artificial Intelligence | September 2015 | Communications of the ACM
Gives an overview of commonsense reasoning research going on in AI. Worth keeping if I need to use it for an article.
21 days ago
The end of capitalism has begun | Books | The Guardian
"Today, the thing that is corroding capitalism, barely rationalised by mainstream economics, is information." If this is not technological determinism, then I don't know what is...
information  public_discourse  artificial_intelligence  computing 
23 days ago
There might be a student loan crisis — but not where you think - Vox
The paper, from Adam Looney of the US Department of the Treasury and Constantine Yannelis of Stanford, linked student loan data with borrowers' earnings records for about 4 percent of all student loan borrowers since 1970. The data showed where a wide sample of students went to college, how much they borrowed, and what happened to them later.

Their research gives the clearest explanation yet for why student loan defaults began climbing after the recession. They found defaults were concentrated among a certain kind of borrower: those at for-profit and community colleges.

These students were slightly older and more likely to come from low-income backgrounds and live in disadvantaged neighborhoods. They attended colleges with low graduation rates. And after they dropped out or graduated, they struggled to find well-paying jobs that would enable them to pay off their loans. About 20 percent of them were unemployed.

Those borrowers made up 70 percent of loan defaults among people who left college in 2011, meaning that they quit paying back their loans for at least 270 days in the first two years of paying them back.

Traditional college students, particularly those at selective colleges, fared much better by comparison.
higher_ed  college  public_discourse  debt 
27 days ago
Why We Should Fear University, Inc. - The New York Times
Freddie Deboer says the policing of language, sensitive students, etc. is all due to corporate culture of the university
higher_ed  college  public_discourse 
29 days ago
I have one of the best jobs in academia. Here's why I'm walking away. - Vox
More on college and what's wrong with it. Of course, my interlocutors would tear it to pieces.
college  higher_ed  public_discourse 
29 days ago
Could the sharing economy bring back hitchhiking?
Zuckerman says we shouldn't leave sharing just to start-ups. We need to encourage hitchhiking, couuchsurfing and other forms of serendipitous encounters.
sharing_economy  public_discourse  uber  airbnb 
4 weeks ago
Trapped in the Virtual Classroom by David Bromwich | The New York Review of Books
e utilitarian dream of the MOOC education in some ways suggests the opposite of the catastrophe of displacement that I described by analogy with the early factory system. After all, nobody will be driven from home by taking organic chemistry taught online by a teacher who spoke the words many months earlier in front of a camera thousands of miles away. You can take a course like that at home. That is precisely its attraction. No: under this new regime of teaching and learning, the displacement would not occur at home but in the workplace of education. Teachers stand to lose their jobs to the teaching programs supplied by the experts. The losses, for the most part, won’t be felt by scholars at the large and prestigious universities and the better-known liberal arts colleges, but at less well known colleges and institutions throughout the literate world.

It would be a sign of humility regarding the educational inheritance if some of the MOOC outfits pledged not to market their products to schools that already employ teachers in the subjects covered by an online course. Schools that don’t have teachers of the relevant subjects and don’t have a reasonable chance of hiring them are a different matter. So are corporations that want to teach their employees a skill that is methodical and formulaic. Nor should one deny the benefit that online courses bring to freelance students of all ages who would never be able to find instruction of a similar kind anywhere in their neighborhood. A virtual course is better than no course; and who will pretend that the disadvantages of online instruction aren’t outweighed by the good of having a shot at learning where none existed before? It is the next step of the pitch that ought to trouble us.

The authoritative MOOC on any subject aspires to be accepted as a uniform convenience. And yet, we lose something when we shut out the human contact whose elimination makes for the convenience. Might it not turn out to be antiseptic—deadening, even—to complete a two-year or a four-year-long succession of educational requirements in the frictionless setting of the virtual classroom? And if we think of uniformity as a gain—millions of pupils imbibing a familiar doctrine from the same learned authority—what shall we say of the consequent loss of variety? Good teaching has more than one master, one method, and one style.
moocs  public_discourse 
5 weeks ago
What is the proper way to change strings as "Courseware" or "Meet the team" - Google Groups
Ned Batchelder
Sep 2

​Hi Julio,

We don't yet have a good way for themers to change small bits of text.  The tab names are a trickier case: even if you edit the text in lms/djangoapps/courseware/tabs.py, it doesn't affect already-created courses.  When a course is made, the names of the tabs are stored in the database along with which tabs you want to display.  This was done so that XML-imported courses could provide new tab names.

I would like to let themes provide their own text strings, kind of like Transifex translations do, but without having to provide a whole new set of strings, just overrides for particular strings.

edx  openedx  forums 
5 weeks ago
Headspace Is Enlightenment on Your iPhone - The New Yorker
Article on the new meditation app Headspace. Has some history of how it made its way into the West - meditation, that is -- and also about how it is now making its way into corporations. I think Craig Souza, my SF friend, talked about this.

"Detractors worry that secular mindfulness teachers have whitewashed the technique, dulling its self-critical edge. The management professor and Zen practitioner Ronald Purser pointed to a Stanford study that demonstrated that most workplace stress is caused by things like corporate dysfunction and job insecurity—not by “unmindful employees.” Corporations like mindfulness, he said, because it “keeps us within the fences of the neoliberal capitalist paradigm. It’s saying, ‘It’s your problem, get with the program, fix your stress, and get back to work!’ ”"
meditation  siliconvalley  public_discourse 
5 weeks ago
The Widening World of Hand-Picked Truths - NYTimes.com
Science wars redux! This is like the article by the philosopher about the distinction between truth and beliefs. Pshaw.
sciencestudies  sciencevspolitics 
6 weeks ago
The Unwinding Begins: Amplify Sells Computer Science MOOC | EdSurge News
I talked to Emily Grad a long long time ago. The Amlify MOOC is now its own company
moocs  public_discourse  amplify 
6 weeks ago
Harvard, MIT researchers highlight on-line class cheating - The Boston Globe
Ike Chuang's research on detecting bots and cheaters makes it into the Globe. I wonder why Curtis Northcutt is not mentioned though...
moocs  public_discourse  learning_research 
6 weeks ago
Data-Crunching Is Coming to Help Your Boss Manage Your Time - The New York Times
time management software used for surveillance and employee productivity. They mention Sapience wiht whose manager I once talked to long ago when I was thinking of doing research on Rescuetime
platformization  public_discourse  surveillance  productivity 
7 weeks ago
In defense of Amazon's long hours - Vox
Completes a triumvariate of Vox responses to the Amazon NYT piece. Here Lee says that making software just might require long hours.
amazon  public_discourse  platformization  software 
7 weeks ago
Why the New York Times’s Amazon story is so controversial, explained - Vox
Ezra Klein thinks that the NYT's Amazon story got so viral because it speaks to the white collar worker's anxiety (especially the symbol analyst) to manage the work life balance. Just like Anne Marie Slaughter's Atlantic story about having it all.
amazon  platformization  public_discourse 
7 weeks ago
Amazon's relentless work culture is because it's the startup that never grew up - Vox
In response to the NYT's piece on Amazon, Yglesias says that Amazon's policies are a direct result of its decision to eschew profits. But also that we should be caring more about its warehouse workers.

"Amazon's modest to nonexistent profitability makes the company very different, both culturally and operationally, from other big, mature tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, or even the relatively new Facebook. Those are all companies who've found their way to core operations that are extremely high-margin and throw off tons of cash.

Amazon looks much more like a relatively early-stage startup. Its relentless focus on low prices in pursuit of growth leaves it with very low margins. And whatever revenue it does scare up is invested in the further pursuit of growth. The mission is to get as big as possible, as fast as possible. The company squeezes costs remorselessly, but passes all that forward to customers in pursuit of even faster growth.

There's a lot to like about this business strategy.

But for a publicly traded company to deliberately eschew profitability over such a long span of time is asking Wall Street to have a lot of faith. Bezos has done remarkable things across a number of dimensions, but one of his most underrated skills as a CEO is simply his ability to sell investors on this strategy. There is no "quarterly capitalism" at Amazon, and in fact the time horizon on the plan for world domination is so long that one can question whether there's any capitalism at all."
amazon  platformization  public_discourse 
7 weeks ago
Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace - The New York Times
Don't quite know what to make of this article; it describes the resident ideologies at Amazon governing white-collar workers - all data-driven of course.

Key grafs:

"In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation by the local newspaper, the company installed air-conditioning.)

But in its offices, Amazon uses a self-reinforcing set of management, data and psychological tools to spur its tens of thousands of white-collar employees to do more and more. “The company is running a continual performance improvement algorithm on its staff,” said Amy Michaels, a former Kindle marketer."
amazon  platformization  public_discourse 
7 weeks ago
new mailing list: openedx-announce - Google Groups
Look at how new lists are created and how older ones get decommissioned - that is also a data point about the edx organization
edx  openedx  forums 
7 weeks ago
Google's plan with Alphabet: build the Bell Labs of the 21st century - Vox
Bell Labs, Google, Alphabet - how the funding of science has changed and how that relates to Google's decision to become Alphabet
platformization  google 
8 weeks ago
Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video — Medium
A Youtube entrepreneur critizes Facebook's methods when it comes to video. They exaggerate how many times a video is viewed (by having a nonsensical definition of "view", he says), they favor videos uploaded natively on Facebook - and they don't look for and delete copyrighted content, he says.
facebook  video  youtube  platformization  public_discourse  debates 
8 weeks ago
Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Learning Beyond the Platform - EdTech Researcher - Education Week
Justin expands on the seven points of his talk in seven blogposts - how design of MOOCs can benefit from research that's been done
moocs  public_discourse  learning_research 
8 weeks ago
Why My MOOC is Not Built on Video | MOOC Report
More debates about effectiveness of video, this time from Lorena Babham hte GWU professor...
moocs  video  debates  public_discourse 
8 weeks ago
Why there are so many video lectures in online learning, and why there probably shouldn’t be — Medium
Report from Philip Schimidt on why MOOCs use videos and why they shouldn't - or use them better. My only beef is that he says its not clear why so many MOOCs started off with videos. I think it's clear - they were looking to the Khan ACademy and the KA began with videos.
moocs  public_discourse  media  video  debates 
8 weeks ago
Edx platform weird bug - Google Groups
forking a named release - DB explains.
forums  edx  openedx 
8 weeks ago
localizing Xblocks (and ORA in particular) - Google Groups
how to do translations in ora2 - question from russia, i think
edx  openedx  forums 
8 weeks ago
The Amazonization of Everything
David Golumbia does his tendentious diatribe against Amazon
amazon  platformization  public_discourse 
9 weeks ago
A lover, a model and a nose
Baradwaj Rangan takes me back to the days of Ashiqui
generalinterest  hindicinema 
9 weeks ago
What is the true latest openedx release, and how can I install it to a clean ubuntu 12.04 machine - Google Groups
DB givces some comprehensive explanations including links to changes to named releases that proved unstable.
edx  openedx  forums  debates 
9 weeks ago
How to deploy an open-edX instance in a production level on my own server? - Google Groups
A developer asks how to set up a self-server installation of edx before moving to aws. this is david b's reply: perhaps i should follow these too.

Feanil Patel, one of the devops engineers at edX, did a presentation at the first Open edX Con about how edX runs Open edX in production. The YouTube video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITMwNto82eE and the slides are available here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bVAWunCX7wpe2-CUTExcBM_BlgwRJlV9MiGN8keUfU0/edit#slide=id.g4212b1096_10 Those are some good references for getting started. You can also check out the GitHub wiki for the configuration project (https://github.com/edx/configuration/wiki) and our Confluence space (https://openedx.atlassian.net/wiki/display/OpenOPS/Open+edX+Operations+Home).

Unfortunately, I don't think that edX has an official step-by-step guide for how to run a production-level Open edX installation, partially because everyone has different requirements in terms of scale, cost, features, etc. Perhaps someone else in the community has a guide like this that I'm not aware of?

David Baumgold
Developer Advocate, edX
edx  openedx  forums 
9 weeks ago
Technical Perspective: Corralling Crowd Power | August 2015 | Communications of the ACM
One might ask how such an approach scales in terms of time or complexity. In terms of time, crowd marketplaces can suffer from a latency problem in waiting for tasks to be accepted by workers, and indeed this accounted for the bulk of time in each condition (~20 minutes). In terms of complexity, the authors acknowledge an important limitation in the degree of interdependence supported; for example, changes requiring modification of large areas or related but separate areas can lead to quality issues.

However, the field (including the authors) has since made tremendous progress in scaling up the speed, quality, and complexity of crowd work. The time needed to recruit a crowd worker has dropped from minutes to seconds following the development of methods such as paying workers to be on retainer, enabling time-sensitive applications such as helping blind users navigate their surroundings. The quality of crowd work has increased by orders of magnitude due to research ranging from improved task design (for example, using Bayesian Truth Serum where workers predict others' answers), to leveraging workers' behavioral traces (for example, looking at the way workers do their work instead of their output), to inferring worker quality across tasks and reweighting their influence accordingly.

Perhaps the most important question for the future of crowd work is whether it is capable of scaling up to the highly complex and creative tasks embodying the pinnacle of human cognition, such as science, art, and innovation. As the authors, myself, and others have argued (for example, in The Future of Crowd Work), doing so may be critical to enabling crowd workers to engage in the kinds of fulfilling, impactful work we would desire for our own children. Realizing this future will require highly interdisciplinary research into fundamental challenges ranging from incentive design to reputation systems to managing interdependent workflows. Such research will be complicated by but ultimately more impactful for grappling with the shifting landscape and ethical issues surrounding global trends towards decentralized work. Promisingly, there have been a number of recent examples of research using crowds to accomplish complex creative work including journalism, film animation, design critique, and even inventing new products. However, the best (or the worst) may be yet to come: we stand now at an inflection point where, with a concerted effort, computing research could tip us toward a positive future of crowd-powered systems.
crowdsourcing  platformization 
9 weeks ago
On Stephen Hawking, Vader, and Being More Machine Than Human | WIRED
I love this sentence from Helene Mialet:

Someone who is powerful is a collective, and the more collective s/he becomes, the more singular they seem.
stephenhawking  research  ANT  sciencestudies 
10 weeks ago
The Fundamental Way That Universities Are an Illusion - The New York Times
Kevin Carey does a masterful hitjob -- he basically says colleges do no quality control on teaching and learning. Going to college matters, going to any particular college doesn't. Not quite sure what to make of it - it seems like a bad-faith critique.
higher_ed  public_discourse  moocs 
10 weeks ago
As Tech Booms, Workers Turn to Coding for Career Change - The New York Times
The new schools teach coding in 12 weeks and then the students get high salaries as data scientists. Data scientists even get paid more than software engineers!
data_science  platformization  public_discourse 
10 weeks ago
why does college cost so much? « scatterplot
If you read popular coverage of higher ed, one of the biggest recurring questions is “why does college cost so much?” There’s no really good answer to this question, in part because it’s poorly phrased. Higher ed is a big field containing several different organizational populations that look very different when it comes to costs and revenues (and student bodies, etc.). The chapters by Scott and Ruef & Nag in this edited volume do a nice job of laying out some of the contours of that diversity. Applying that basic insight suggests that the question “why does college cost so much?” might have very different answers for public research universities, community colleges, private liberal arts schools, the elite research universities, for-profits, etc. The relative weight of the various popular explanations (including administrative bloat, Baumol’s cost disease, lavish expenditures on amenities, higher levels of federal financial aid, and declines in state support) may differ radically.
higher_ed  public_discourse  cost 
10 weeks ago
The Ethnographic Vision of John L. Gwaltney: The Thrice Shy, A Forgotten Gem | Somatosphere
A review of a book the author found inspriring. It relates to the experience of Onchocerciasis, in Mexico.
research  medicalanthropology 
10 weeks ago
On Paul Krugman's theory of hipsters
What are hipsters signalling by their tattoos? That they have jobs where they can have tattoos - in other words, a mastery of bourgeouis life. says Ezra Klein.
10 weeks ago
Why I'm optimistic about digital media, in 2 charts
Some charts about declining ad revenue and viewership in television.
platformization  journalism  media 
10 weeks ago
Wait? The Robots Aren't Coming After All?
Drum responds to Matt Yglesias' Vox piece asking: how does Matt know we won't reach true AI?
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
10 weeks ago
Has Uber Pushed Corporate Activism in the Digital Age Too Far
Matt Stampeck reviews how platform companies are mobilizing their users to pressure politicians when regulations unfavorable to the platforms are being thought about. E.g. Uber in New York. The whole thing is well worth reading
platformization  public_discourse  uber 
10 weeks ago
Instaserfs: Precarious Employment in the New - and the Old - Economy - FOLD
Instaserfs is the tale of two well-educated white guys discovering what people with fewer advantages have knows for decades: the game is rigged. Fortunately, Andrew is not going to be a Wash.io delivery man for much longer - he's a talented video producer whose skills should lead him to a less precarious freelance existence. The question is whether listeners to this excellent series will see the connections between the new exploitation economy and the old exploitation economy, and work towards a future of work where fewer people can rent manservants at $125 an hour, and fewer people need new shoes to work those servant jobs.
sharing_economy  public_discourse  platformization 
10 weeks ago
The Mystery of ISIS by Anonymous | The New York Review of Books
What explains the rise of ISIS? Is it the incompetence of other groups, ISIS's digital propapganda, its ability to provide governance, its support from various powers at various times? The authors argues that none of htis is sufficent - and indeed, ISIS has done things that are not entirely popular with its base. So what explains its success? We don't know, he says. A nice coplement to the Dar Spiegel article on ISIS
generalinterest  politics  isis  iraq 
10 weeks ago
The Robots Are Winning! by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books
Even Daniel mendelsohn, so otherwise astute, can't coming up with more than this banal conclusion when he writes about Her and Ex Machina.

"Ex Machina, like Her and all their predecessors going back to 2001, is about machines that develop human qualities: emotions, sneakiness, a higher consciousness, the ability to love, and so forth. But by this point you have to wonder whether that’s a kind of narrative reaction formation—whether the real concern, one that’s been growing in the four decades since the advent of the personal computer, is that we are the ones who have undergone an evolutionary change, that in our lives and, more and more, in our art, we’re in danger of losing our humanity, of becoming indistinguishable from our gadgets."
artificial_intelligence  public_discourse 
10 weeks ago
What the Sharing Economy Takes | The Nation
The sharing economy looks like a classically neoliberal response to neoliberalism: individualized and market-driven, it sees us all as micro-entrepreneurs fending for ourselves in a hostile world. Its publicists seek to transform the instability of the post–Great Recession economy into opportunity. Waiting for your script to sell? Drive an Uber on the weekend. Can’t afford a place to live while attending grad school? Take a two-bedroom apartment and rent one room out. You may lack health insurance, sick days and a pension plan, but you’re in control.
neoliberalism  sharing_economy  public_discourse  platformization 
10 weeks ago
The automation myth: Robots aren't taking your jobs— and that's the problem - Vox
Yglesias says that the new digital tools aren't increasing productivity but they are definitely decreasing the amount of work. And public policy should instead orient toward making the decline of work official: better benefits, more holidays, reducing retirement age, etc. It's a good summary of the whole discussion.
artificial_intelligence  automation  platformization  public_discourse 
10 weeks ago
Uber is the perfect poster child for the Republican economic agenda - Vox
There's something a little bit backward about this, as Uber is most popular in big cities with less than universal car ownership and lots of Democratic voters. But that's part of the reason talking about Uber is good politics for Republicans. It could help the party appeal to young, urban professionals who lean toward Democrats on cultural grounds but might find things to like in the GOP's economic message. It helps to drive a wedge between Uber-using urban professionals and more traditional — or more deeply ideological — liberals who see Uber's "gig economy" model as a threat to worker rights.

Of course, Uber itself cares less about presidential politics than about local regulation, where things tend to be less partisan in practice. Some Republican officeholders have been hostile to Uber, while many Democratic ones have been supportive. When the rubber meets the road, ordinary interest-group politics wind up mattering more than ideological considerations. But that doesn't stop Uber from being a potent tool in national politics, serving as a symbol for liberal fears and conservative hopes.
sharing_economy  public_discourse  uber  politics 
10 weeks ago
Indiana University used this one weird trick to cut student debt
IU sent students a letter every year telling them how much they'd borrowed the previous year. And that reduced what students borrowed this year. But is this a good thing?
higher_ed  public_discourse 
10 weeks ago
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