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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.…

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Jon Bentley | My Life in Art

Wonderfully weird retro pop art. Jon recalls his first encounter with the iconic Peter and Jane books: ‘Like many people of my generation, I learned to read with Peter, Jane, Mummy, Daddy and Pat the dog. As I struggled with the unfamiliar letters, my eyes where invariably drawn to the picture on the opposite page, full of strange details that drew me in and seemed to suggest a richer more…

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Cooper Hewitt: the typeface by Chester Jenkins

“[S]ince Cooper Hewitt is a government institution, “utilizing a well-crafted, American-made product was important. And not something that’s Helvetica.” Jenkins echoes that sentiment: “The design was created for the Smithsonian, which is owned by the people of the United States, so the typeface should likewise belong to the people of the United States.” –qz.com The new typeface, Cooper Hewitt, is a contemporary sans serif, with characters composed of modified-geometric curves…

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Boys And Girls Memorize Words Differently

Girls were more likely to memorize words and phrases by relying on their mental dictionary, while boys tend to use their mental grammar. Mental dictionaries of the mind store sounds, words, and common phrases, while mental grammar stores the composition of longer words and sentences, such as going from “walked” to “walk.” They also compared the children’s test results to data collected from 71 adults, ages 18 to 50 and…