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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.