Building Communities with Software

“The social scientist Ray Oldenburg talks about how humans need a third place, besides work and home, to meet with friends, have a beer, discuss the events of the day, and enjoy some human interaction…. In creating community software, we are, to some extent, trying to create a third place. And like any other architecture project, the design decisions we make are crucial. Make a bar too loud, and people…

Tap into Science 24-7

“What we need is a C-SPAN for science: a cable science network (CSN). This network would carry live lectures by knowledgeable scientists on topics ranging from climate change to biological warfare, as well as debates on issues from the biological basis of aggression to missile defense.” Terrence J. Sejnowski –Tap into Science 24-7 (Science)

What Use Is Literature?

“Too many ?studies? and ?reports,? with tables of data in small print appended, have purported to reveal truths about welfare or policing or sex education but in fact have revealed nothing but the initial prejudices of the ?investigators.? For me, the epiphany came when I interviewed the nation‘sleading climatologists for a magazine article on acid rain (about which I knew nothing) and discovered mostly ideology, not knowledge?among scientists. When I…

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Bikini Model Photos, Before and After Retouching

–Bikini Model Photos, Before and After Retouching (Greg’s Digital Portfolio) Yes, this is a link to an attractive woman wearing a bikini — but it shows the unretouched, “before” pictures, too. A great set of photos for a gender studies class: marketers make big bucks forcing women to compare themselves to models whose bodies don’t exist. The bags under her eyes are gone… smoother skin… a tighter, smaller navel… bigger you-know-whats.…

AOL Time Warner

“I have concluded that AOL’s brand would benefit from being removed from the corporate name…” AOL executive Jon Miller –AOL Time Warner (Internal Memos) Yup, just like it’s good for the diseased limb if you cut if off from the rest of the body. This is an amusing attempt at corporate spin. He even tries to beat the critics to the punch: “there is no question this will provide the media…

Games Close In on Citizen Kane

“Yes, the game business is increasingly reliant on movie licenses and sequels. It is less willing to take big risks, particularly in themes or audiences. But that risk aversion reflects an industry that largely is making fewer, bigger titles with absorbing, often branching narratives, well-written dialogue and much larger budgets — as much as $10 million or more — for audiences of growing maturity and sophistication.|Combine that with the increasing…

'Friendsickness' affects freshman female college students

This preoccupation with holding on to pre-college relationships would often get in the way of students forming new relationships in college. Female students seemed to fear that new friendships formed in college would lack the depth and intimacy of those friendships that took root in their growing-up years. –‘Friendsickness’ affects freshman female college students (EurekAlert) As an aside, note how much of the above press release made it into the following…

Who's Watching the Class? Webcams in schools raise privacy issue

“When students in Biloxi, Miss., show up this morning for the first day of the new school year, a virtual army of digital cameras will be recording every minute of every lesson in every classroom.|Hundreds of Internet-wired video cameras will keep rolling all year long, in the hope that they’ll deter crime and general misbehavior among the district’s 6,300 students — and teachers.” Greg Toppo –Who’s Watching the Class? Webcams…

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Don't Look It Up: The Decline of the Dictionary

“As most people know by now, dictionary makers today merely record how the language is used, not how the language ought to be used. That is, lexicographers are descriptivists, language liberals. People using “disinterested” when they mean “uninterested” does not displease a descriptivist. | A prescriptivist, by contrast, is a language conservative, a person interested in maintaining standards and correctness in language use. To prescriptivists, “disinterested” in the sense of…