Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is a regular feature with three links to fascinating, provocative, or particularly well-written, (usually) long-form pieces collected over the last three years. There will not be a test, but there may be a theme.

As I am sure you are breathlessly aware, Monday is the (pushed back) kick-off for CCC’s “Open Book” big data project.

From your email:

Over the last ten months, the OpenBook team has worked together to create a truly unique data system for the City Colleges of Chicago.  We’ve taken our goal of a data democracy seriously and have built entirely new tools and features that will help OpenBook be a system that is intuitive and easy-to-use for everyone -while providing enough power and complexity to grow with our needs for years to come.

It has been a massive undertaking, but we’re ready to officially open this system for use to every administrator, faculty and staff member at CCC.  We are pleased to announce that OpenBook will officially launch on September 16th, 2013.

What should you know? Well, maybe you learned enough looking at the district office team’s presentation on their project (a version of which was shown during DWFDW). Also, there is a lot of great information out there: big data is a big topic–described as the “steam engine of our time” and as a potential (and real) danger to privacy and as an answer to urban troubles of all sorts, and that’s just on NPR! Some people from the business world see immense promise, others wonder if it’s a kind of mirage.Meanwhile, educators seeing the business trends are scrambling to figure out how to put their huge volumes of data on students to work, as here (mini-grants), here (getting poor kids into better colleges), and here (student performance and advising). Other academics are working retroactively as this fascinating project called “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere.”

Maybe you’ve read the book, Big Data (interesting reviews  here and here). Or maybe you’re on the side of the skeptics and heard about or checked out the work of one of my current intellectual heroes, Evgeny Morozov, whose book To Save Everything, Click Here is my #1 current book recommendation for anyone and everyone (you can get a taste of his ideas and his voice HERE or in this interview). Maybe you don’t read books. That’s ok.

Maybe you read one of the many stories (as here) detailing the role of big data in the last presidential election. Maybe not. That’s fine. You could take a free, self-paced class on data analysis if you’d prefer. Perhaps you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, yet, though.

You should still know some stuff about “big data” and education. Here are three places you can go to learn about Big Data before the public launch of CCC’s big data project:

~The Rise of Big Data: Unfortunately, this was once free (pretty sure), but is not behind a paywall because it’s been archived. It’s by the authors of Big Data, one of those articles-cum-advertisements/abridgments for a bigger book. Still, maybe you will be interested enough after reading the first few paragraphs to spring the five bucks for it (or better, use a library to read the article (or the book) for free!). Failing that, type “Big Data” into EBSCO and click on whatever you fancy.

~The Meme Hustlers: Evgeny Morozov writes about the language of the advocates of technological solutionism and one particularly effective purveyor of what common techie discourse. You will talk differently after reading this.

~The Tech Intellectuals: A who’s who of the advocates (and critics) of technology talk and theory. Along the way there is lots of good stuff about the fault lines related to the topic.


And whatever else, let’s not forget that data is one thing and interpretations of it are another. Should be interesting, regardless.

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading

  1. Well, PhiloDave, if that means you’ve sent another invite, you should know that it hasn’t arrived yet.

    On the other hand, if it means you’ve simply decided to revoke access without explanation, you are better served simply to declare that the Lounge is your personal blog. That way people like 12Keystrokes wouldn’t even think to hold up the way you make your decisions alongside, say, the way decisions are made on a college committee or some editorial board.

    It would mean no harm, no foul.

    But this whole show about logic, transparency, and editorial consensus – to what end? Some might doubt you for criticizing people and institutions for their seemingly capricious decisions unless you declare the Lounge a personal blog not sponsored by Faculty Council or some other representative college body.

    It is no secret that 12Keystrokes sees much of the criticism put forward on the Lounge as affirming beliefs already held by an in-crowd: often, the critics never attempted to be persuasive. It was preaching to the choir. A kangaroo court. Affirmation led to a loss of perspective and, in general, that’s what opinion communities do: they codify and harden, as any glance around the blogosphere teaches. 12Keystrokes read somewhere that instead of bridging differences, social media widens distances between groups, precisely because of this opinion community dynamic re: affirmation.

    However, it is important to point out that the Lounge doesn’t really extend beyond the eleven floors of 30 E. Lake but is subsumed by the physical interactions/social groups between the people who work in that building. Or at least 12Keystrokes has always seen things that way. Surely, it was an in-crowd that got together to launch the blog in the first place – with a lot of fun and gonna-change-the-world-momentum – but that in-crowd lost perspective, attracted some like minds, some climbers, and some dissenters.

    Declaring the Lounge a personal blog could refresh that momentum (for anyone who likes that sort of thing), and it could diffuse some of the damage done by this or that snipe or screed (if that’s really a genuine concern for some who expressed that concern). Think about it.

    But until then, 12Keystrokes chooses not to be branded by the Lounge. Given its current iteration, that branding – the public image of the college that has gone out for the past few years and this recent caprice – violates 12Keystrokes’ sensibilities. Been pretty plain about most of that. Realist as a rallying point had to go.


    But there are many other ways to do things under the cover of anonymity, and they have little to do with posting under “anonymous” on a blog. 12Keystrokes can only address the discourses that have saturated the Lounge brand thus far. You once misread 12Keystrokes’ comment regarding privileging your feelings: the implicit critique was that you so easily privilege your feelings over 12Keystrokes’ (or anyone’s) and declare that a minor manuever not worthy of examination. Following up re: Wittgenstein could have been productive since that would have expanded on the differences between normative (and normative and empirical) statements.


    12Keystrokes would like to post your revoked email invitation with your permission. Nothing personal. Strictly business. (12Keystrokes – should anyone doubt it – often engages in persuasion, not affirmation, and still encourages at least the creation of a basic “who’s who?” rubric.) Finally, 12Keystrokes comments here rather than at https://haroldlounge.com/2013/09/05/apache-openoffice/ by way of disclaimer so as to avoid future surprise or misunderstanding: it’s not about crashing anyone’s post but about accessing the comments sections.

    • Noted (8x).

      Post whatever you wish from my emails. If you’d like further explanation for what I’m pretty confident you can figure out for yourself, I’ll be happy to provide it. Suite 1036. This side. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, midday.

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