Stuff that isn’t blog-post-worthy, but may be helpful to think out loud.

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The World Is Getting Hacked. Why Don't We Do More to Stop It? -

Zeynep Tufekci, writing about the latest ransomware, in the New York Times: If I have painted a bleak picture, it is because things are bleak. Our software evolves by layering new systems on old, and that means we have constructed entire cities upon crumbling swamps. And we live on the fault lines where more earthquakes are inevitable. All the key actors have to work together, and fast. Source: The World Is Getting Hacked. Read More

How Google Took Over the Classroom - The New York Times

Natasha Singer wrote a piece for the NYTimes on Google in the classroom. Is it a marketing ploy? (of course it is - there is no such thing as a free lunch, etc…) Google says “of course it isn’t - we just want kids to learn! It’s about the learning!” 🤔 These two quotes, one from Bill Fitzgerald, the other from the director of Google’s education unit, Bram Bout, outline the tension nicely: Read More

Nick Heer on web hosting and user data

These are all concerning avenues for users. Adding advertising tends to mean user privacy is compromised, as ads become increasingly targeted by the day; shutting a company down means all user data gets removed, and it's up to each user to find a new product or service to fill the hole. Rinse and repeat. Arguably worse is when the company and all attached user data is acquired. There's very little control any user has over that decision: they may like the original product, but are uncomfortable with the new owner. Read More


I've been frustrated by how much time I burn away fidgeting with social media. Lately, it's been essentially a form of self-regulation or soothing as it feels like civilization is melting down. Trump stumbles to pronounce a 5-letter acronym fed to him on a teleprompter? Ugh. To Twitter! etc. The world isn't melting down. I need to snap out of the pattern of just pissing away time on social media. So, I've deleted the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone and iPad. Read More

You Don't Have as Much Control in Videogames as You Think | WIRED

Warren Spector on dialogue: "It's very easy for us to simulate the pulling of a virtual trigger, and it's very, very hard for us to simulate a conversation. I defy anybody to show me a conversation system in a game today that isn't identical to the conversation systems that Richard Garriott was using in the '80s. The big innovation in conversation systems now is that there's a timer on your choice on the branching tree. Read More

David Levy On the Agony Of Going Offline

David Levy, in "The Useless Agony of Going Offline": (He went offline for 72 hours over the new year's long weekend. Productivity ensued.) I didn't miss my smartphone, or the goofy watch I own that vibrates when I receive an e-mail and lets me send text messages by speaking into it. I didn't miss Twitter's little heart-shaped icons. I missed learning about new things. During the world's longest weekend, it became clear to me that, when I'm using my phone or surfing the Internet, I am almost always learning something. Read More

Zygmunt Bauman: Social media are a trap

Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called "armchair activism," and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people? A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren't created, and you either have one or you don't. Read More

Tyler Hellard on the state of journalism

Columnists, Gawker, ViralNova, porn and websites profiling other websites prove that the Internet was a wonderful thing and we absolutely broke the shit out of it. Well done, team! … So what's the point? A lot of this stuff isn't thought provoking, it's rage provoking. Which, I suppose, makes it traffic/pick-up provoking, too. Newspapers are supposed to be for the benefit of public discourse, so it kills me that pageviews could be keeping these assholes in work. Read More

On using a Surface 3

I’ve been using a Surface Pro 3 as my mobile tablet-shaped device for 3 (non-consecutive) weeks. If I’m going to be able to work with instructors who use various bits of tech, I need to be able to speak from experience. That means I need to use more than just Apple devices - so, my time with a Surface. Also, I used an Android phone (Nexus 5) as my phone-shaped-device while traveling to DC last year for Open Ed 2014. Read More

Downes on lectures

The point of a lecture isn't to teach. It's to reify, rehearse, assemble and celebrate. via Stephen's Web. Stephen ended his post linking to Tony's blog post with what appears to be a throwaway line. It's not. This is where the tension is centred when it comes to teaching. Lectures aren't teaching, but have been used as a proxy for teaching because how else are you going to make sure 300 students get the appropriate number of contact hours? Read More