Students in a Finnish community college learn how to spot "fake news".

Finland is Winning the War on Fake News

This is story is from May, but it’s very relevant. Standing in front of the classroom at Espoo Adult Education Centre, Jussi Toivanen worked his way through his PowerPoint presentation. A slide titled “Have you been hit by the Russian troll army?” included a checklist of methods used to deceive readers on social media: image and video manipulations, half-truths, intimidation and false profiles. Another slide, featuring a diagram of a…

Because Internet: the new linguistics of informal English

I’m planning to begin my online Shakespeare class with commentary on how it’s a good thing that language changes, so that students will (I hope) see the effort they will need to put into understanding English from 400 years ago as part of the process of engaging with a living language, the same process that inspires each generation to change the language to suit their needs. Large-scale analysis of internet…

Why Grown-Ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids

Felt writey. Because reasons. The other day I walked through a room full of toddlers who were energetically growling at each other. They were obviously playing together, but there was a passion and an aggressiveness in their voices that made me feel that somehow, they weren’t just growling at each other, they were joining forces to confront the unfairness of a stressful universe. When I noticed my 17yo daughter had…

I’m Gradually Losing My Hearing. (It’s Part of Aging.)

During a department meeting today, I noticed I was feeling very disengaged. I was having trouble following what my colleges were saying, unless They were speaking one at a time They were projecting (no sotto voce or vocal fry) I could could see their lips. I could usually get by with 2 of the 3, but only sometimes with 1 out of 3. I found myself scrolling through emails and…

Twitter and the “Two Minutes Hate”

Another of the many, many reflections on the big story of the weekend. In 1984, George Orwell famously described a totalitarian political order in which people were kept as docile subjects in part by a daily ritual called “Two Minutes Hate” in which the population directs all of its pent up fury at “Goldstein,” a possibly fictional enemy of the state. Thanks to Twitter, we now know that the same dynamic…

Lessons from the Covington Catholic Flashpoint

My social media network includes people who fully supported the narrative voiced by Phillips and magnified by social media outrage, who now feel the shifting narrative proves how hard “the media” work to excuse the misbehavior of smirking, entitled, racist bullies. (But they might agree the Hebrew Israelites went too far.) My social feed also includes people who were participating in the March for Life and insisted from the start…