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The Truth About Test Scores

It’s not hard to design a test that has a high likelihood of producing just about any outcome desired. Let’s not forget that a test cannot possibly measure all that is taught. Therefore, designers rely on sampling what they believe are the most important concepts in any given subject. But suppose the mission is to sort out students (e.g., the SAT). If the test were heavily loaded up with items…

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What Happens When Digital Cities Are Abandoned?

“The great paradox about these digital communities is that they’re easily kept around forever, and they are even more easily deleted utterly,” said Jason Scott, an Internet advocate and archivist who launched a digital preservation team that year…. I recently tried to revisit my own first homepage, a wonder of center-aligned blinking text, purple tiled backgrounds, clever “Under Construction” gifs and pixel-art icons I had traded with other GeoCities page…

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Vintage Freebies for Designers

I wish I had time for cool stuff like this… only a month left of summer break for me, and my wife is going out of town Monday-Friday, so I’m both father and mother to the kids this week. Not much chance for playing with retro design elements, but I can at least save the link for someday.Vintage Freebies for Designers.

Creative Commons images of food.
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Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance

Restaurant studies surveillance footage to reveal how customers on smartphones take up waiters’ time. Customers fiddle with their phones before ordering, they ask their waiters to snap group photos, they take pictures of the food and themselves with the food when it arrives, they send it back because it’s cold. 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they…

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The Uses of Being Wrong

Unlike that of most physical and natural scientists, the ability of social scientists to conduct experiments or rely on high-quality data is often limited. In my field, international relations, even the most robust econometric analyses often explain a pathetically small amount of the data’s statistical variance. Indeed, from my first exposure to the philosopher of mathematics Imre Lakatos, I was taught that the goal of social science is falsification. By…

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How not to attract women to coding: Make tech pink

Just watched videos of the musicals “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Legally Blonde,” so cultural attitudes about women in the workforce are on my mind. Wheat had discovered what Elizabeth Losh, a digital culture scholar at UC San Diego, calls “ridiculous, pink, sparkly techno-princess land.” Pink websites and polka-dotted flyers are what happens when an entire field overcorrects, Losh says. Women are grossly underrepresented in engineering and computer science careers, a…

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Text Games in a New Era of Stories

Clever NYT writer cleverly notices a genre that’s been around for almost 40 years, and praises as a “first glimpse” a work by an author and designer and ambassador and critic who’s been producing canonical works many of us have been glimpsing (and studying and teaching) for about 15 years. But beware the sentences of Emily Short. Because prose. And pages and stuff. Blood & Laurels made me feel more…

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Educators approve national campaign to halt high stakes, “toxic tests”

Not a news item, but an announcement from a stakeholder. As a homeschool parent and college teacher, I’m interested in the rhetoric of the “toxic testing” pushback. Increasingly frustrated with the abuse and overuse of high stakes standardized and the negative effects on student learning, nearly 9,000 educators approved a national campaign to reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by standardized tests and to implement more effective…

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We are the product that Facebook has been testing

Up to now, I refrained from posting anything on the FB “contagion” issue, but this article seems to have the right approach. Facebook has made no secret of the fact that its news feed is a manipulated version of reality. It selects the posts and links to display prominently that it has found through testing are the most likely to interest users, and encourage them to return and post themselves.…