Categories ▸ Obiter Dicta
Note: This is the text of my contribution to a panel at the SASE meetings, UC Berkeley last Sunday. My role was to tee up the discussion. The other panelists were Maciej Cegłowski, Stuart Russell, and AnnaLee Saxenian. My remarks draw on work that Marion Fourcade and I have been doing on information technology and markets, but she should not be held responsible for anything here, especially the bits about 18th century French intellectuals.
Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters, Inc, opened this weekend. I brought the kids to see it. As a faculty member at what is generally regarded as America’s most monstrous university, I was naturally interested in seeing how higher education worked in Monstropolis. What sort of pedagogical techniques are in vogue there? Is the flipped classroom all the rage? What’s the structure of the curriculum? These are natural questions to ask of a children’s movie about imaginary creatures.
Honestly, this sort of thing is best ignored:
But I like $100 as much as the next guy, so here is my video.
I’m teaching our required Graduate Social Theory course again this semester. This year I decided I’d snub not just monomanical German system-builders but French Weberians as well. No Foucault for you! I should have started a “What, no x?” sidebet before posting it. In the syllabus, I present a justification for my sins. An excerpt:
Like many programs in our field, Duke’s Sociology department requires its graduate students complete a one-semester survey course in social (or “sociological” theory).
It’s that happy time when I whine about American television coverage of the Olympics. This year’s whining has a new twist—beyond the usual complaints about sentimental crap and tape-delay—because there are no decent streaming options absent a pre-existing subscription to some cable channels. But it’s also the time when I am reminded of my existing personal prejudices about sports, when I may discover new ones (as new events are added), and when I try to figure out whether there’s any defensible rationale to my preferences.
I’ve been using the Readmill ebook reader on-and-off. I like it quite a bit. Using it prompted me to make an ebook of my own. Because I moved this entire blog over to Octopress a little while ago, everything I’ve ever written on it going back to 2002 is now in Markdown format. So over lunch today I took advantage of John MacFarlane’s amazingly useful Pandoc, which can make EUPB format ebooks out of markdown files, selected thirteen posts from the Archives and made a little anthology called Books I Did Not Read This Year.
Here’s a short inverview/profile thing I did recently for the “Good Question” series that the Kenan Institute for Ethics has been doing. There was a high-concept photo-shoot and everything, so if you’ve ever wanted to see me hanging around in a junkyard warehouse surrounded by various spare parts (I’m sure you see the connection here), then now’s your chance.
I have an interview over at The Setup, for those of you who are interested in cursor-gazing.
The application you’ve been looking for:
While some so-called environments that are less free of distraction may display one, three, or even more lines of text—all at the same time—we understand that if you could only achieve the theoretical removal of all theoretical distractions, you would finally be able to write something. And we want Å«— to help you almost do that.
I think what makes Merlin Mann compelling is that he knows he has something important to get across about work and creativity, but what he has to convey is a kind of non-demonstrative non-formula, and trying to say it more than once puts him in the same business niche as a legion of people he rightfully despises.
I have a short contribution up about presumed consent and organ donation over at the New York Times’s Room for Debate Section. If you are interested in following up some of the ideas, see this blog post or this law review article.
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