Category Archives: technology

À la recherche du technologie perdu [Part 1]

By | May 1, 2014

Contrary to popular opinion, I did not actually write my PhD dissertation on parchment with a quill, although it was so many generations of technology ago that I might as well have. There is something quite sobering about realizing that one’s cherished moments of technological innovativeness feature devices now enshrined in the Permanent Collections of the Smithsonian. But… Read More »

MOOCs and the future of higher education [Part 2]

By | April 8, 2014

So just what are MOOCs, anyway, and why should we care? Aren’t they just hype, or worse – a gimmick dreamed up by the for-profit sector to flimflam the non-elites? There’s certainly an element of marketing gee-whiz. The first MOOCs were largely show-off technology, but also partly marketing devices used by their universities to publicize special areas of… Read More »

Technology and magic (Part 2)

By | February 24, 2014

In the previous post on this topic, I observed that a large portion of our interactions with technology, particularly information technology, takes the form of magic. That is, we know how to perform certain actions on the machine that result in consequences we want, although we haven’t really much idea about how those consequences are achieved. Even the… Read More »

Discrimination, representation, and ecological fallacies

By | February 6, 2014

​Back in November 2013, Alice Marwick published an article in Wired Online entitled “Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs”. In it, she basically claimed that women and minorities were being systematically cut out of the Silicon Valley elite by assorted Powers That Be. It’s an interesting article, and as might be suspected, it… Read More »

Technology and magic? [Part 1]

By | December 31, 2013

One of the better-known quotes attributed to the late Arthur C Clarke was his Third Law: ”Any powerful technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This is one of those pronouncements that seems at first bewildering, then profound, and finally more embarrassing than anything else. The bewilderment arises from our immediate sense that technology – science-based stuff – ought to… Read More »

On rediscovering wheels

By | November 6, 2013

In the latest entry in the “your federal government at work” sweepstakes, the US Commerce Department has just issued a fine new report entitled “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University: Higher Education, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Focus.” As a result of extensive interviews

The Name of the Blog (repeat entry)

By | August 17, 2013

Early on in the history of this blog, I wrote a short column explaining the rather quaint name that I’d chosen for this effort: “Two Boards and Most of the Idea”. I thought that it might be useful, before we wrap up our causality series, to once again explain the name for the benefit of all the new… Read More »

Doug Engelbart’s Legacy

By | July 5, 2013

There seems to be a lot of death going around lately. I just heard of the passing of Doug Engelbart on July 3; he was 88 years old and in dicey health, but I will always remember him as the optimistic visionary who befriended me

Intriguing new free research tool

By | April 26, 2013

I’ve been experimenting recently a bit with a quite fascinating new research tool brought to you by those wonderful folks at Google Labs. It’s called an “Ngram Viewer“, and it’s basically a tool for taking words and phrases and, as Google puts it, “…display[ing] a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books (e.g.,… Read More »

Life after MOOC’s? [Part 1]

By | April 8, 2013

There has been in the Chronicle of Higher Education and BigThink blogs recently considerable debate about the value and role of massive online open-source courses (MOOC’s, in the jargon.) If you’ve been stuck in Lower Slobbovia State U. for the last year and a half or so, you may have missed the emergence of this phenomenon; for anyone… Read More »