Friday, May 02, 2008

Why You Should Be Lifestreaming

Mark Krynsky argues for lifestreaming. This struck me: "I now primarily subscribe to people instead of RSS feeds." Which makes me think of the fact that mobile phones allow me to call people instead of locations.

Why You Should Be Lifestreaming | Lifestream Blog
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Will Streaming Office Kill Google Apps?

That's Randall C. Kennedy's prediction. Streaming Office is the full MS Office suite, delivered over the Internet as a subscription-based service. He says:
Faced with a decision between a watered-down, limited, web-dependent pseudo-suite and the full power and richness of Microsoft Office, users will flock to the Microsoft camp - especially if the company prices a "pay as you go" Office aggressively. And then it will be "game over" for Google Apps and its ilk.

Enterprise Desktop | Randall C. Kennedy | InfoWorld | Streaming Office: Death knell for Google Apps? | May 1, 2008 11:23 AM | Randall Kennedy
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mild tech-oriented body mods

Nothing complicated, we're just talking about fingernails.

Why should Motorola's handset unit's new CEO come from outside the US?

Because the US mobile phone market has made such dismal decisions. An analogy:
So what is wrong? American executives in telecoms do not see the future, they are stuck in the past. Imagine being a car executive thirty years ago, but running a car factory in the Soviet Union. That is not where you could learn about modern methods of just-in-time manufacturing and advanced customer segmentation and microchips and electronics into car design. A car executive in Japan or perhaps Detroit could be competent to head a new car factory, but not one from the backwards markets, such as the former Soviet Union.
Communities Dominate Brands: On Search for Moto CEO, or for that first day to-do list
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"I was pleased I wasn't being mortarboarded in Guantanamo..."

An odd quote from a journalist taken captive in Iraq. Apparently he meant "waterboarded." Our college students seem to enjoy being mortarboarded.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Social Media Consumption Workflows

Louis Gray publicizes his social media consumption workflow. An interesting idea, and I think it might also be useful as a minor assignment if you're teaching that sort of class.

But it might also be useful for people to publicize their own workflows for their friends. I find that many people assume the end-all-be-all contact point is email, and for that reason I tend to check it first and frequently. But I'm finding that I privilege SMS and increasingly channels such as Twitter lately. The most important aspect of my social media consumption, however, is mobile access. YMMV. My Social Media Consumption Workflow

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Get them collaborating intelligently in the classroom

In professional writing classes, we often have students collaborate on group projects. As I've written elsewhere, I think we need to step up the game -- including more collaboration software and providing a project management framework for strategically organizing and executing group projects. (See my presentation on the topic.)

Along these lines, Shiv Singh at The App Gap runs through the latest collaboration stats from Businessweek. He points out that according to the survey, "82% of white-collar workers partner with co-workers. That number appears low." And he asks:

Here’s my question - which of these segments are most likely to use online tools to collaborate? And how frequently does that group collaborate? My sense is that those that are motivated by learning use the online tools and collaborate the most and they probably also get ahead by collaborating more without realizing it .

Right, and those collaborative online tools are increasing opportunities for cross-organizational, contractor-subcontractor and provider-client collaboration as well. At the higher ed level, we need to account for those changes and provide more of a structural template for supporting and modeling collaboration.

The AppGap » White-collar workers collaborate more than ever: News, views, and reviews of Work 2.0 tools, apps and practices
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cognitive capacity?

Clay Shirky has an intriguing thesis that sitcoms arose to absorb a surplus of cognitive capacity, a surplus that was made possible through 20th century automation (and, one might add, shorter working weeks and the move away from subsistence agriculture). We had more time and opportunity to think, and sitcoms were one way to absorb that time.

Shirky estimates -- through what looks to me like dodgy math, but it's a popular book, not an academic one -- that if we take Wikipedia as a unit representing 100 million hours of human thought, then television watching represents 2000 Wikipedias a year.

And he argues:
Now, the interesting thing about a surplus like that is that society doesn't know what to do with it at first--hence the gin, hence the sitcoms. Because if people knew what to do with a surplus with reference to the existing social institutions, then it wouldn't be a surplus, would it? It's precisely when no one has any idea how to deploy something that people have to start experimenting with it, in order for the surplus to get integrated, and the course of that integration can transform society.
He might have a point. I watch perhaps three or four hours of TV a week, and it's Tivo'd so that I can skip the parts I don't care for (including commercials and any screen appearance by Ryan Seacrest). The time I would otherwise spend on TV goes to reading my RSS aggregator and blogging stories like this one, stories that eventually plug into my scholarly work. (Or doing Ashtanga, but let's set that aside.) This activity counts as recreation, but works out as intellectual labor returned to the larger scholarly community.

Similarly, we've seen an explosion in social networking and cooperative gaming, in which people abandon the TV to produce innumerable texts that build up their own personal archives (brands?) and connect with others. Add to that the more ephemeral but omnipresent phenomenon of texting and you get a lot of intellectual surplus used in productive ways (productive in the sense that people are constructing things rather than simply viewing them).

Death of the sitcom frees up 2,000 Wikipedias worth of cognitive capacity - Boing Boing
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A high-profile academic plagiarism case

Virginia Postrel writes a damning post about the apparent serial plagiarism by an English professor, James Twitchell, of her and others' work.

Plagiarism is an academic sin that probably seems harmless at the time of commission, yet destroys reputations. That's even true when the sin was committed as an undergraduate (Joe Biden) or accidentally, as the result of juggling too many sources without well distinguishing between them (Doris Kearns Goodwin).

And it's easy to accidentally appear to plagiarize: A few months ago, when going over some page proofs, I noticed that the copyeditor had taken some of my block quotes and put them into standard paragraph style. I'm glad that I caught the error, which could easily have resulted in a plagiarism charge (if people actually read my work widely).

But that does not seem to be the case with Twitchell's work, which not only closely paraphrases passages without attribution, but slightly modifies them to enter into faint dialogue with the original sources. The dialogue is not obvious when you read the passage, but becomes clear when you lay it beside the source. How much more productive the dialogue would be if it were open rather than hidden.

Sometimes when I talk about plagiarism to my students, I tell them: If professors catch you plagiarizing, we don't just think it's a character issue. We take it as an indicator that perhaps you're just not college material. There are several honorable and skilled professions out there that do not involve referencing and modifying others' intellectual work; if you have the urge to plagiarize, consider keeping your integrity and switching to one of those professions instead. Perhaps I should make that speech a standard part of my grad classes too.

Dynamist Blog: If You're Going to Steal My Prose, At Least Keep My Facts
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