Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2001 I was blogging about interactive fiction, Roget’s Thesaurus, John Lennon, HTML Frames, and C.S. Lewis

A student newspaper article about interactive fiction (quoting Emily Short and me) Blaming Roget’s Thesaurus Finding the URL of a framed HTML document My visit to the John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project HarperCollins re-issuing the works of C.S. Lewis Dave Winer on “The Web is a Writing Environment“

Why Can’t My New Employees Write? | Just Visiting

We’re talking about elite students here landing jobs in highly desirable firms. These are Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep.” We can presume that their educations have been rigorous as they’ve climbed to the top of the meritocratic heap. If these young professionals can’t write well, who can? And if they’re not writing well, why not? My belief is that the experience of these elite students is similar to my very accomplished, but…

Karate, Wonton, Chow Fun: The end of ‘chop suey’ fonts

Close your eyes and imagine the font you’d use to depict the word “Chinese.” There’s a good chance you pictured letters made from the swingy, wedge-shaped strokes you’ve seen on restaurant signs, menus, take-away boxes and kung-fu movie posters. | Variations on the font are commercially distributed as Wonton, Peking, Buddha, Ginko, Jing Jing, Kanban, Shanghai, China Doll, Fantan, Martial Arts, Rice Bowl, Sunamy, Karate, Chow Fun, Chu Ching San JNL,…

How to Reduce Racial Bias in Grading (Use Objective Rubrics)

To gauge the potential impact of a standardized rubric on grading bias, I conducted an experiment comparing how teachers graded two identical second-grade writing samples: one presented as the work of a Black student, and one as the work of a white student.

My experiment found that teachers gave the white student better marks across the board—with one exception. When teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, racial bias all but disappeared. When teachers evaluated student writing using a general grade-level scale, they were 4.7 percentage points more likely to consider the white child’s writing at or above grade level compared to the identical writing from a Black child. However, when teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, the grades were essentially the same.

How a Supermoon Helped Free the Giant Container Ship From the Suez Canal

Powerful lead to this well-written news story. (Great use of embedded hyperlinks, too.) To get the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal unstuck, engineers needed the stars to align. Actually, the sun, Earth and moon. After several days trying to dislodge the Ever Given cargo ship, which had veered off course and embedded itself in the side of the canal, the salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full…

Infrared photo confirms Munch wrote “madman” inscription first noticed in 1904

“Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!” (“Can only have been painted by a madman!”) appears on Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s most famous painting The Scream. Infrared images at Norway’s National Museum in Oslo recently confirmed that Munch himself wrote this note. The inscription has always been visible to the naked eye, but the infrared images helped to more clearly distinguish the writing from its background. Comparing it with the artist’s handwriting…

Royalty: For the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

When I lived in Canada, I had friends who were Monarchists, but I could never tell whether they were really serious about it. I am not at all into royal-watching, but I am definitely into this Irish Times story about the royal family. Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In February, 2001, I was blogging about computer nostalgia, Napster, a horror typing game, usability, and web blurbs.

In February, 2001, I was blogging about Computer nostalgia and text adventure games.“Walking into a room rendered in the Q3 engine can be lovely and impressive, but when you’ve only 16K to tell a story, you have to rely on the gamer’s imagination to provide the details. Just the words ‘you are on a beach’ can summon vistas no game can provide.” — James Lileks Napster. File-sharing was destroying the…

Most Americans have a high opinion of the humanities, and 81% use at least one humanities-related skill on the job

While some survey respondents were unfamiliar with the term “humanities” (apparently guessing that it had to do with the study of the human body), once they were given the definition “studying or participating in activities related to literature, languages, history, and philosophy,” most respondents had a high opinion of the subject. Predictably, people who were educated at liberal-arts colleges were the most favorable towards the humanities, but science and engineering…

Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels

If it were possible to build a digital novelist or poetry analyst, then computers would be far more powerful than they are now. They would in fact be the most powerful beings in the history of Earth. Their power would be the power of literature, which although it seems now, in today’s glittering silicon age, to be a rather unimpressive old thing, springs from the same neural root that enables…

People hate reading instructions, and will only glance at them after they are already frustrated and behind schedule.

I already bought the thing, and I’m only looking in the manual because I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the non-working piece of junk, so I don’t really want to read a chipper note congratulating me on my purchase. People hate reading instructions, and will only glance at them after they are already frustrated and behind schedule. Write for busy grouches who want to jump directly to the section…

SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tools of the Month: Transcription favorites

Technology is wonderful. My journalism students prefer to conduct their interviews by emails, but the word “interview” defines a back-and-forth exchange where the reporter can respond to body language and other subtle cues that don’t make it into emailed responses. Also, it takes non-trivial effort for interview subjects to write out their answers, only a few sentences of which will actually make it into the news report. There’s so much…

Nellie Bly: A Race Against Time | Heinz History Center

On Nov. 14, 1889, Bly waved goodbye to family and friends from the New Jersey Hoboken Pier aboard the Augusta Victoria steamer. Traveling by steamships and trains, her journey sent her around the world from America to England, France, Italy, Egypt, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, and back to a port in San Francisco. She then traveled by train across the U.S., with four major stops including Harrisburg, Pa., before arriving back in New Jersey on Jan. 25, 1890.

A Career-Aligned Major Isn’t Enough

I’ve taken over teaching the English department’s relatively new career focus sequence, so I’m more than usually invested in these ideas. It’s time for faculty and administrators to be blunt: postgraduation success, more than ever, requires a demanding curriculum that includes extensive writing, facility with data and statistics, and extensive opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking. What the pandemic should have taught us is that we need to double down…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

Having a rough day. But in a span of about 24 hours, three former students reached out to thank me.

One former student said I’m the only adult male in their life who ever supported their creative efforts. A second former student posted an essay on social media, describing bouncing back from alcohol and cocaine addiction, and after mentioning several life-savers, mentioned me in the final line of the essay — thanking me for teaching them how to write. A third former student thanked me for the “Dystopia in American…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In January 2001, I was blogging about Bill Clinton’s #WhiteHouse security deposit, anachronism in the #Titanic movie, a textual detective, and #email #etiquette

In January 2001, I was blogging about The Onion: Clinton Not Expecting to Collect White House Security Deposit Anachronisms in the movie Titanic A textual detective who helps the FBI solve crimes and says Clement Clark Moore did not write “A Visit from St. Nicholas” A student whose client backed out needed a project, so I asked her to write a handout on email. Writing Effective Email: Top 10 Tips…

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers: Four Moves

The confirmation bias describes the very human tendency to reject evidence that challenges our worldview, and to seek out — and often cling to — evidence that supports it. If we believe black cats are bad luck, we remember every time a bad thing happened to us after we saw a black cat. If someone we love tells us we will catch a cold if we go outside with wet…