Category Archives: internet

your chance to sound off about asa tech

Some of us have had our share of fun ribbing the ASA for being slightly behind the times in its approach to technology and social media. We have whined about wifi. We have had a laugh or two about The HUB. We have said salty things about the HUB’s stuffed bear mascot. And, of course, we have mercilessly mocked the “app.”

With all this, the staff at the ASA office might be forgiven for ignoring us, claiming the higher ground of dignified intellectual discourse. Luckily for us, however, they have decided to give us a listen. Introducing the brand new feedback forms for the ASA App and the ASA website.:

I should also add that the person collecting this feedback is a brand new staff member at ASA, not responsible in the least for the existing infrastructure, so please give a lot of details in your feedback, and be nice about it.

okcupid is the new facebook? more on the politics of algorithmic manipulation

OK Cupid’s excellent blog just posted the results of a set of experiments they conducted on their own users. The post is framed in explicit defense of similar practices at Facebook:

We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook “experimented” with their news feed. Even the FTC is getting involved. But guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.

In this post, I want to engage with the above argument in the context of OKC’s own manipulation.
Continue reading

two problems with the facebook study debate

Like much of the sociology blogosphere, I’ve been following the debate over the recent Facebook emotion study pretty closely. (For a quick introduction to the controversy, check out Beth Berman’s post over at Orgtheory.) While I agree that the study is an important marker of what’s coming (and what’s already here), and thus worth our time to debate, I think the overall discussion could be improved by refocusing the debate in two major ways.

Continue reading

making the most of a mentor.

I was asked by the folks over at  The Hidden Curriculum to answer a question prompted by my recent scatterplot post: (grad)student-faculty interaction.  Specifically, readers were curious about how to identify mentors and make the most of those relationships, as well as any advice that I had on bridging gender gaps in mentoring.

The take-away is that it is possible to establish some of the qualities of interaction that those more informal encounters foster regardless of where the specific interactions take place. Whether in an office or on a soccer field, an open and honest relationship – with good communication and shared expectations – with a faculty member will enhance the mentoring you get. Check out the post for more, including my distinction between advising and mentoring and resources for students (and faculty) interested in improving mentoring experiences.

 

intensive mothering and movie star moms.

Oh, Gwyneth. What a week is has been. While I am not planning to teach an entire course on her, or on any other celebrities in the news, I do want to briefly say that her recent gaffe illustrates an important shift in the mothering of the rich and famous and shows how few mothers are immune to the demands of intensive mothering.

Continue reading

brecht predicts twitter

I’m reading an old article by Oskar Negt, and what should be the epigraph but a prescient quote from Brecht’s Radio Theory (1927):

If I believed that our present bourgeoisie were going to live another hundred years, then I would be certain that it would continue to babble on for hundreds of years about the tremendous “possibilities” that the radio, for example, contains…. I really wish that this bourgeoisie would invent something else in addition to the radio — an invention that would make it possible to preserve everything the radio is capable of communicating for all time. Future generations would then have the opportunity to be astounded by the way a caste made it possible to say what it had to say to the entire planet earth and at the same time enabled the planet earth to see that it had nothing to say. A man who has something to say and finds no listeners is bad off. Even worse off are listeners who can’t find anyone with something to say to them.

I daresay he has just described Twitter.

free speech, kansas, and duck dynasty

Two big free-speech matters are making headlines today. First, Phil Roberts of the show Duck Dynasty made some truly ugly comments in an interview with GQ, which prompted A&E to suspend him from the show. Predictably enough, the right-wing meme has become “the left is tolerant of everything as long as you agree with them.” Second, the Kansas board of regents adopted an exceedingly broad policy on social media use that could provide authority for employees (presumably including faculty) to be disciplined for comments that harm or insult the university.

Continue reading

The 2013/14 US News Rankings

This morning, US News and World Reports published their graduate school rankings. However, rather than report rankings based on the data they collected last fall, they decided (for the first time in history) to average data collected in 2008 and 2012 to generate many of the lists, including sociology.

Continue reading

how not to graph trends over time

Talking Points Memo has a slide showing President Obama’s approval rating 2011-2012:

Putting the theorized causes of opinion shift between the two lines is pretty, but misleading since at least to me it implies that these events caused the difference between the two lines, not the change in the overall rating.

More misleading–though in a direction that undermines the graph’s thesis–is the manipulation of the y-axis so it ranges only from 40 to 55. The graph’s claim (that the President’s approval is “Nearly back to where it started”) is sort of true, but truncating the y axis makes it look false, since the Gallup line has fully 33% of the y axis to go before matching its peak!

correlation, causation, and so on

Has anybody played around much with Google’s Correlate tool? Quite amazing, in a frightening sort of way. I found it surfing from this similarly amusing, but less thorough, post. I can come up with no adequate theory to explain the nearly .73 correlation between my scribbled line and searches for “home videos clips” on Google.

However, using a steadily decreasing line, the correlation is mostly with searches for now-obsolete web technologies (how many people now search for “web page” on google?), which indicates, I think, the fact that the meaning of google itself has changed over time.

tea party research and the public sphere

Warning at the outset: this is going to be a LONG post!

Early last year, my friend Steven Tepper and I were talking about the Tea Party Movement (TPM) and how best to understand its rise and appeal. We were genuinely curious about it: to what extent it was a new phenomenon as opposed to a recapitulation of familiar political formations; the relationship between cultural and political dispositions and practices; the extent to which it reflected a focus for members to identify with as opposed to a cluster of political preferences. Based on our curiosity, we invited two terrific colleagues–Neal Caren and graduate student Sally Morris–to join us in a research project.

Continue reading

email overload

Feeling bored because your inbox is at zero? Why not wade around in someone else’s?

trends in anonymous blogging.

Somehow – and much to my dismay, now that most of the day is behind me – I ended up tumbling down an internet rabbit hole today and venturing through blogs (and blog entries on still flourishing existing blogs) from yesteryear.*

When I looked back at those blogs (and early entries here), there were so many more anonymous/pseudonymous posts and bloggers than today. Is it just my imagination, or maybe the circles that I read in? If not, what accounts for these differences?

Have those same bloggers become more comfortable with the venue, and so switched to their given names? Has that cadre of bloggers become tenured or more comfortable with their prospects of being so in the near future, and so less worried about being visible on blogs? Is it a shift in topics (perhaps less complaining about colleagues, more exchanges of lofty ideas)? Is it the legitimacy of blogging that came with increasing numbers of high-status academics engaging in it? Is it that bloggers who sign their names to their ideas are more likely to continue blogging, as there’s more of a reputation – even if just as someone who sticks with things – to uphold? Is it a Facebook foot-in-the-door effect, where  having our given names such a central part of so many people’s online lives makes us more comfortable using them elsewhere, including on blogs?  My own guess is that it’s some combination of the above (and likely factors I didn’t think to include), but I’d like to hear what others think. Do those same people roam these blogs, just less disguised, or are participants in the academic blogosphere significantly different in the age of declining anonymity? 

——–

*To provide some context, I started reading blogs in the summer of 2006.

killing the messenger

UNC football is in the middle of a scandal involving improper contact with athletic agents and potential academic violations. It turns out that one of the main ways the scandal broke was that players were bragging via Twitter about perks paid for by agents, e.g, drinks, entry to fancy parties, and so on. So this morning’s Daily Tar Heel says… wait for it…

Continue reading

youth ethics on the internet

Education Week has a story out on research into young people’s use of the internet and how they process the ethics of life online. The study indicates that ethical decision making comes into play for kids these days much earlier than in previous generation, at least in part because of the pressures of online participation.

“Even though many young people may not be ready to participate in the wider communities that digital media open up to them, there is no controlling information about yourself or others that gets posted,” said Howard Gardner, the project’s co-director. “It’s a situation that’s foisted upon young persons who are not ready for it.”

Mr. Gardner, an eminent psychologist best known for his multiple-intelligences theory, is working with a team of researchers at Project Zero, the research center he helped create at the graduate school, to study how students’ use of digital media affects the development of their “ethical minds.”

The issues of privacy, community, and intellectual property are complex ones, and it is fascinating to see young people articulate their ethical perspectives on their everyday online activities.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 877 other followers