The Digital-Humanities Bust

Dinosaurs evolved into birds. Not all of them, of course. Birds are so much a part of our environment that we barely notice them. I’ve said the same about weblogs. Monetized and platformized and app-ified, the basic functions of blogging live on — a reverse-sorted stream of posts, a mechanism to engage with visitors to your stream, and a mechanism for engaging with the authors of other streams. It is…

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The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone Reduces Brain Power, Study Shows

 The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag. The findings suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at…

Short Reports: How to Write Routine Professional Documents

New graphic. First step in touching up my collection of pages on writing short technical reports. A business memo, a lab report, or a professional e-mail are all variations on the basic report structure described in this document.  Feel free to modify these guidelines in order to meet your reader’s needs. Think of Your Reader First Your busy reader has a problem, and has turned to your report for help. What, exactly, does your…

Wet Book Rescue

Wish I’d known this technique when I spilled tea all over my JC Superstar script. (I did the paper towel and fan thing, but didn’t try leaving the book under weights overnight — probably because I needed to use the script at rehearsal.)

Anti-globalism Is Common Factor in Social Media Conspiracy Theories, says UW Prof

Fascinating academic effort to find a pattern in apparently random conspiracy theories that regularly pop up in our infostreams during social crises. Experts usually dismiss them because they are so wild and unlikely, and have thus failed to notice their impact. Starbird’s insight was to map the digital connections between all this buzzing on Twitter with a conglomeration of websites. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try…

First Evidence That Social Bots Play a Major Role in Spreading Fake News

Shad and co say bots play a particularly significant role in the spread of fake news soon after it is published. What’s more, these bots are programmed to direct their tweets at influential users. “Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users,” say Shao and co. That’s a clever strategy. Information is much more likely to become viral when…