On Wednesday, Devin Gaffney and Nathan Matias shared a warning for computational social scientists: Large-scale missing data in a widely-published Reddit dataset could be undermining the quality of your research. Alarm bells rang, and by the next morning, several friends and colleagues who know I use this data rushed to share the link with me. While their work is still in the preprint stage, the analysis is good and it makes an important contribution. I feel the same about Hessel et al.’s response analysis, which is printed in full at the end of the preprint. I agree wholeheartedly that more people working with this kind of data should investigate what’s really there rather than trusting grandiose claims about its quality.
“The reified world is, by definition, a dehumanized world. It is experienced by man as a strange facticity, an opus alienum over which he has no control rather than as the opus proprium of his own productive activity.” (Berger and Luckmann 1967:89)
Philip K. Dick’s story “The Autofac”—published in 1955 and recently adapted as an episode in Amazon’s series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams—takes place on Earth after an apocalyptic war. All institutions are destroyed save the Autofac, an automated mega-factory that controls every aspect of production—collecting resources, manufacturing, and shipping—for every product humans need. Created before the war, the Autofac continues production, and is completely beyond human control.
Unusual among our public-flagship peers, Carolina requires all undergraduate students to enroll first in the College of Arts & Sciences, even if they ultimately major in one of the professional schools. This reflects a core commitment to the liberal arts as the foundation for all undergraduate education at Carolina. Implicit in this organization is the claim that broad, serious education in the liberal arts is the best way to prepare students for future study as well as for leadership, citizenship, and professional life.
At the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meetings this past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a fantastic Author-Meets-Critics session for Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed. Lower Ed is a great book, but it’s not a complete analysis of the sector. In writing up my comments, and in the discussion during the session, I tried to think of what you would need to bring together to get that fuller picture. Here’s my brief recommended list, and how I would use them together in say a unit of a sociology of education or higher education course.