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A to Z-ombie: which malls you should live in

I began pondering what life would be like if zombies came around. How would I react? What would my use be to society (because nearly everyone in a zombie movie has a distinct purpose)? How would I survive? What would I be like as a zombie if I did get bitten? There are obviously a lot of things to think about. The most pressing issue in my mind, though, is…

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The avatar versus the journalist: Making meaning, finding truth

The evolution of the Internet as collective, public dream via electronic interfaces, and the evolution of human beings into civilizations, has many striking parallels. The earliest networks were often protected by their owners, and communities were relatively secretive or ?cave-dwelling.? The wiki, on the other hand, is out in the open field, where its vulnerability is on display and under attack. The process of its growth resembles agriculture and farming…

Picnic at Bull Run

As I write, I am one week into my retirement from six years as assistant to the president of a Research I university. In many ways, this was a great job. To gain a perch on the heights of academic responsibility while being responsible for very little; to learn the ropes without having to pull strings; to meet persons with political power or money or both and not have to…

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Rail line reopens in Indiana County

In Indiana, the $9.6 million railroad project funded by state, federal and railroad monies is a cooperative effort that is the “product of a great partnership of private and public officials,” according to David J. Collins, president of B&P. “It was truly a railroad lost to the wilderness,” Collins said, explaining the track had been in poor condition for years prior to the project. Next year, Collins said, it is…

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Dude, Where's Your Newspaper?

Yes, the news is less entertaining than Friends, so we need other reasons to watch. But those reasons — including voter participation, party affiliation, and educational expectations about following the news — have weakened in the past three decades. We need to turn the tide. But what can we do? Plenty. First, we must raise our expectations for high-school students. To offer a model of how this might be done,…

The 'Bad' Guy: Steven Johnson Thinks Video Games And Violent TV Are Good for the Brain

Okay. It’s true, as Johnson says, that video games can be intensely challenging and absorbing, and that book-loving snobs tend to be oblivious to this fact. It’s true that “The Sopranos” is complicated and subtle as well as violent. And although you yourself don’t watch “24,” your smart colleagues talk endlessly about its intricate plotting. What’s more: You love how comfortable your kids are with new technology. You totally agree…

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Top 10 Web fads

Grist for the e-mail forwarding mill. Whatever you call them, Web fads are entertaining, unintended consequences of life on the World Wide Web. Once the masses could put anything online easily, they turned up weird fetishes, hilarious parody, jaw-dropping narcissism, and moments of brilliance. And over the past 10 years, some of these ideas broke through to the mainstream. Whether it was dancing hamsters, a kid enjoying his day as…