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.

great discussion of same-sex marriage

Jessie over at Racism Review put up an excellent post a few days ago, that has blossomed into a really interesting conversation about sexuality, activism and religion in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Jessie’s post, responding to claims that the black vote was the deciding factor, made some strong arguments about the lack of sustained efforts to diversify the lesbian and gay movement and the role of religion in all of this. Check it out.

my secret hobby project

Okay, so sometime around the beginning of the year I declared on this blog that I had a secret hobby project for 2008. After being coy for awhile, I revealed what it was: to write a text-based computer game for the annual Interactive Fiction Competition. (Judge the dorkitude of that as you will.) Interactive fiction games were commercially viable when made by a company called Infocom in the early 1980’s, and then re-emerged afterward as a hobbyist programming community. The project involved me learning Inform 7, a computer language for writing Interactive Fiction.

Writing turned out to be way more difficult and involved than I was expecting.  I had someone I know beta-test the first version, and it was so ridiculous buggy that I decided I needed to find complete strangers to help with the next two betas, because then I would feel less embarrassed about how defective it was.  I started to understand why 2/3 of the people who register on the competition website as intending to enter the contest end up not finishing their games. But, in the end, I got mine done.

My stated goal was to finish eighth or above in the contest, although my secret goal was to finish fifth or higher. How did I do?

Continue reading “my secret hobby project”

racism: a great way to liven up a boring story

A groan of dismay for Discovery News, a source that usually stays out of politics, and now I know why. Faced with placing a headline on a non-news item about Barack Obama’s pending decision to keep his Blackberry during his presidency, the editorial staff chooses this:

Obama Likely to Give Up ‘CrackBerry’ as President

I know that people call it a CrackBerry. I know that they will claim that they didn’t mean to associate President Elect Obama with the street drug that has crippled black communities for decades. And yet, there it is. I imagine the editorial staff is a dozen or so well meaning, middle-aged, middle-class white guys, which would once again demonstrate that diversity in the workplace is a good idea.

end of a brief experiment?

I’ve been reading a lot about the framing of the US as a “center right nation.” Basically the idea here is that even though the conservative movement was knocked down in the last election their response is to sound like Ralph Nadar. “Yes, the dems one. But fundamentally we are a center-right nation. Even the dems follow this path. And we conservatives are fundamentally closer to core American values.” LIberal bloggers have be challenging this framing. I particularly like openleft (in part because it was founded by a high school friend). But as Paul Rosenberg points out there, the last time Democrats won 50%+ of the House popular vote: November 4. The last time the Republicans did? 1946. The graph of the House popular vote is rather telling. Continue reading “end of a brief experiment?”

check your poop lately?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has a new public health project that encourages people to screen themselves for colorectal cancer. Ontarians over 50 can get a free home-test kit to check for blood in their stool, an early sign of the disease. Testers collect samples of their own poop for three days in a row, and send it all in to the health department to be tested.

You can imagine how difficult this program might be to promote. Can’t say poo, can’t show the test, can’t make people too worried about dying. It seems impossible, but somehow, they came up with one of my favorite commercials on TV:

boycotting marriott?

So I’ve been getting a series of emails exploring the idea of boycotting Marriott hotels. More specifically, about setting up a boycott against the Marriott at our Annual Conference in two years at ASA (in Atlanta, where the Marriott is one of the conference hotels). The argument is this:

1.) The Marriott family is Mormon.
2.) They own an enormous stake in the company that bears their name (it is public, though)
3.) The family tithes to the Church (10% – it’s a tithe! – and they’re rich so that’s a lot of money).
4.) The church was one of the main organizers to help ban gay marriage in CA (by some accounts, the church and its members were responsible for 77% of the funding for the ban).
5.) Marriott hotels should be boycotted, particularly by the ASA.

As much as folks have been trying to convince me that it makes sense to boycott Marriott, I’m not convinced. Indeed, I don’t think it makes sense (but perhaps you all will disagree). Here’s why: Continue reading “boycotting marriott?”

my grammatical pet peeves

Here are some of the things that annoy me in papers, presentations, etc., and that I’m apt to edit out or mark on manuscripts/papers I’m reviewing/grading:

  1. Comprise vs. compose
  2. Split infinitives
  3. Use of “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun
  4. Use of the second person, just about ever
  5. Use of “natural” or “human nature” as (implicit or explicit) cause of outcomes
  6. Which vs. that

What are your pet peeves?

wedding update

One commenter I don’t know and some friends have asked about the wedding.  So here is a quick update.  B’s father died October 23 after a hard month.  We traveled to his home city on Saturday to meet and express our condolences to his family, and then again on Tuesday for the funeral.  B’s family appreciated our efforts to show that we cared about B and his family.

The wedding is on, it happens December 6.  That’s about 3 weeks from now!!!  Yikes.  Continue reading “wedding update”

happy birthday, scatterplot!

Scatterplot is one year old today! We also hit our 500,000th hit today. How exciting, eh? I kinda can’t believe that we average around 1350 hits per day. And that doesn’t include those of us who post (our hits aren’t included). It also made me wonder how much time this thing has sucked up. Let’s do some math. Say the average visit is 1 minute.

500000 minutes
8333 hours
1042 days (assume an 8 hour day)
208 weeks (assume working 5 days a week)
4 years (assume a 50 week work year)

Wow. If our time were pooled that would be about 4 years of work. Someone could get a lot done in four years (even if the average visit were 15 second that would still be a year!). Instead we were here. Well, I hope it’s been worth it. Andy said during a recent interaction, “we’re like a virtual department.” I like that idea. It makes it feel like it’s been a year (or four) well spent. Sing with me, “Happy birthday…”