Data Isn’t Neutral [...]

“In every situation you face, there will be unique considerations about whether and how to publish a set of data,” he wrote. “Don’t assume data is inherently accurate, fair and objective. Don’t mistake your access to data or your right to publish it as a legitimate rationale for doing so. Think critically about the public good and potential harm, the context surrounding the data and its relevance to your other reporting. Then decide whether your data publishing is journalism.” (Source)

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy [...]

The downside of going for size and scale above all else is that the dense, interconnected pattern that drives group conversation and collaboration isn't supportable at any large scale. Less is different -- small groups of people can engage in kinds of interaction that large groups can't. And so we blew past that interesting scale of small groups. Larger than a dozen, smaller than a few hundred, where people can actually have these conversational forms that can't be supported when you're talking about tens of thousands or millions of users, at least in a single group. (Source)

Textbook Assumptions [...]

We are pestered by the bookstore to decide on a textbook before registration (which means a lot of faculty pick a textbook just in case). We force our students to spend millions of dollars on textbooks but are unable pay for instructional design help and release time for faculty who want to write materials. Course fees — a popular way of supporting open materials initiatives — take an act of Congress to get approved, but any faculty member can assign a $300 textbook with no oversight whatsoever. Faculty who contribute to open textbooks get very little in terms of tenure consideration. We have committees in some departments that are literally named “textbook selection committees” which sort of telegraphs a result, right? We have accessibility policies that are written in ways that don’t help those needing accommodation but do actively scare faculty away from open resources. (Source)

Learning Adaptive Learning [...]

Yes, students worked in the adaptive learning platform, but they also had class time devoted to supporting them with their study and work habits. Learning how to learn, which is very important for students that do not have a history of academic success. (Source)

Interestingly, in the study that launched the Testing effect, student's projected expectation of how a given learning approach would impact their learning had no bearing on how much their actually learned.

Argumentative Theory [...]

Recent theories of cognition suggest that there are really two types of logic we have, intertwined with one another. One developed for problem-solving — we look carefully at a situation, try to figure out how to mend that spear or bowl, how best to track down that bison or cook the meat. But many of our more abstract abilities come from another source — the need to convince people that our way is the one correct way so that people will assist us, and not someone else.

The Argumentative Theory of cognition, for example, suggests that our inability to see evidence that does not support our beliefs is not a “brain bug” but a result of an evolutionary process that favored people who could seem the most sure about their beliefs. People who are willing to display self-doubt do not tend to gain broad support, so evolution helpfully nuked self-doubt. As a result we’re actually horrible problem solvers, but boy are we sure of ourselves.


Engagement and Overconfidence go hand in hand.

Militarized Masculinity [...]

The gender issue is really a postwar issue. Women, wherever they were, what side or what in the war situation, stepped into the places that men had left. And they were competent, and they could do it. It was only after the war, when the men came back, that they needed the mystique—that she’s a girl, and so oughtn’t [to be] there, this is a man’s job. The gender issue, in practical terms—either who [could be] in school or who thought they could do which job, which science, which math—is a postwar issue anywhere in the world.And it’s the issue of a large number of well-organized men, who often got their training in the army during the war, returning and needing both work and justification for their organized maleness in a very hierarchical structure. These guys came out of the military, and brought skills, but mostly brought demands.There were women who had coped—often very well in very technical [positions]—but what was needed now was a distinction between those who came out of a culture of order, discipline, and minimal consideration of an individual’s contribution. So you had to get the women out of the workplace. And that’s when that question—they can’t do math, or they are frightened of machines—that’s where all that crap comes from. But it’s there, and it took until the late ’50s when women said: “Ah ah! What’s going on here?” (Source)

Anger Spreads Fastest [...]

Chinese researchers find that anger spreads faster than sadness, happiness, or joy on the Twitter-like social network Sina Weibo.

They gauged various online emotions by tracking emoticons embedded in millions of messages posted on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging platform. Their conclusion: Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than rage. The researchers found that users reacted most angrily—and quickly—to reports concerning “social problems and diplomatic issues,” like a 2010 incident where a tainted food additive was believed to cause a neurodegenerative disease or when an international shipping dispute prompted an eruption of nationalist rage against Japan.

In many cases, these flare-ups triggered a chain reaction of anger, with User A influencing Users B and C, and outward in a widening circle of hostility, until it seemed all of Sina Weibo was burning. The users, according to the study’s authors, passed along these messages not only to “express their anger” but to instill a similar sense of outrage among other members of their online community on Sina Weibo—one of the only venues where the Chinese can circumvent government restrictions on traditional forms of media. (Source)


In the long run, anger can drive people away from communities. See Too Many People Have Peed in the Pool, Own Worst Enemy

Human networks are surprisingly resistant to viral phenomenon, due to Degree Assortativity

For the most part, people aren't really arguing, they are just flying a flag. See Identity Headlines

Identity Headlines [...]

Most retweeters and Facebook reposters aren't informing, or even arguing. They are using headlines the way one might use a bumper sticker: to express who there are and bond with others.

From a user’s point of view, every share, like or comment is both an act of speech and an accretive piece of a public identity. Maybe some people want to be identified among their networks as news junkies, news curators or as some sort of objective and well-informed reader. Many more people simply want to share specific beliefs, to tell people what they think or, just as important, what they don’t. A newspaper-style story or a dry, matter-of-fact headline is adequate for this purpose. But even better is a headline, or meme, that skips straight to an ideological conclusion or rebuts an argument. (Source)

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