The Internet Blowhard’s Favorite Phrase
Daniel EngberDaniel Engber, SlateCC BY, 2012/10/02

This is an engaging read about the phrase "correlation does not imply causation." The phrase, of course, is the conversation-stopper of the internet age, useful any time you want to stop someone from making a claim based on the data. What's missing in the article is consideration of the question of how we do show causation - for after all, if all the data shows is correlation, how do we conclude that any causes exist?

Today: Total:65 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Machines Shouldn’t Grade Student Writing—Yet
Dana GoldsteinDana Goldstein, SlateCC BY, 2012/05/09

The topic of assessment, and especially computer mediated assessment (CME?), is taking on an new currency. Today's readings contain a sampling that is typical of what I've been seeing in recent weeks. From Slate, for example, we have an article cautioning against machine grading - for now. Tom Hoffman cautions readers of that article about the role of Common Core in automated assessments. Ian Quillen, meanwhile, covers Hewlett's Automated-Essay-Grader contest winners. A company called Intel-Assess is acquired. A Washington Post Blog discusses the arrival of standardized tests in post-secondary education. A company called Study Egg offers video-based quizzes. Harvard Business Review plugs CoursePeer, an automated grading systems. Michael Feldstein analyzes the role of machine learning. And as Ignatia summarizes, "the assistants, professors, and grading algorithms of the richer universities will blast away smaller initiatives that are based on peer knowledge exchange, natural learning and human enrichment."

Today: Total:111 [Comment] [Direct Link]
The Rise of "Logical Punctuation".
Ben YagodaBen Yagoda, SlateCC BY, 2011/05/18

Interesting article on where to put the period when the sentence ends with a quotation mark. The style is changing, asserts the article, from always placing it inside, to placing it outside. I do a lot of quotation in this newsletter, and here's the rule I follow. If the punctuation mark is logically a part of the main sentence, I put it outside the quotation mark. That's how I manage short "clips" and "bits and pieces". But if the punctuation is logically a part of the sentence being quoted (which is typically preceded with a comma) I place it inside the quotation mark. That is how I would handle a sentence like, "You pays your money, and you takes your choice." I don't think the author of this article has discerned the logic of "logical punctuation" but I think he correctly identifies a shifting - and improved - rule. Today: Total:53 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Help, My Degree Is Underwater
Emily BazelonEmily Bazelon, SlateCC BY,

Another article drawing links between the recession and learning. The only thing that changes, in my view, is the advisability (or not) of going $100K into debt to obtain a degree. The education is always worthwhile (yes, even in philosophy or arts; don't let anyone convince you otherwise) but the economics of the education system are rather less so. A degree is becoming, again, something only a rich person can afford - and something a poor person can't afford not to have. We need to redress education economics, while underlining the value of an education for all people in society. Today: Total:47 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Linked Out
Wendy DavisWendy Davis, SlateCC BY,

From now on, I would like people linking to this site to use the form OLDaily, the best source of ed tech news on the web. Ridiculous? I agree. But a company faced with a mounting lawsuit in Chicago this week caved to a law firm demanding to be able to dictate how links to its site were expressed. The suit is just one example of the way trademark law, like copyrights and patent law (and yes, I know they're all different) are used to stifle legitimate discourse and dissent. Or, as in the case where a company is demanding ownership over the term netbook, to benefit from value it had nothing to do with creating. Via Comsumerist via Dan Gillmor. Today: Total:46 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Diagramming Sarah
Kitty Burns FloreyKitty Burns Florey, SlateCC BY,

We hear a lot about how students aren't learning to read or write. I would like to point to the sort of thing that causes this. There's this effort to understand the linguistic structure of a Sarah Palin sentence, above. Or this pointed diagram of her speaking style (language warning). Now it's one thing for a politician to present ideas so poorly. But then we also have the Wall Street Journal cheering her on and saying she nailed it. "She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man... Debates are more active, more propelled-they are thrust and parry. They are for campaigners. She is a campaigner. Her syntax did not hold, but her magnetism did. At one point she literally winked at the nation." When this is touted as success by the nation's leading business journal, when this and not organized sentences or truth are touted as being of the highest value, then not only the nation's business sector bankrupt, its premise of fundamental literacy is under siege by the cynical and the manipulative. Today: Total:60 [Comment] [Direct Link]

There Are 12 Kinds of Ads in the World
Seth StevensonSeth Stevenson, SlateCC BY,

Pretty good list. Also applies to software journalism. The slide version is easier to use. Today: Total:71 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Blink and The Wisdom of Crowds
James SurowieckiJames Surowiecki, SlateCC BY,

Today's newsletter is more of a test of the newly reinstalled system, so I'll keep it short and send just this item, a discussion between Malcolm Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point and Blink!, and James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds. The format is interesting - a back-and-forth exchange over the course of a week (this week, in fact; the final installment is tomorrow).


Just to keep you up to date - Not all services on my website are running yet. But but let me extend thanks to Luc, Shaun and Raphael, who have undertaken the substantial task of setting up the new server. Also, if you are trying to contact me, my email is not fully functional, so please be patient. Today: Total:30 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A 21st-Century Man: Why is Dante Hot All of a Sudden?
Adam KirschAdam Kirsch, SlateCC BY,

Why has Dante's Inferno suddenly gained in popularity? Perhaps it's because it is lietrature that appeals to a culture that is beginning to think in images rather than words. "Dante's poetry is made up of such visions. They have a hallucinatory power, and their emotional force is clear even to a reader bored by the Aristotelian logic that makes Dante see usury as a sin of violence rather than a sin of avarice." Today: Total:29 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Obstacles to E-Voting
SlateCC BY,

Some things standing in the way of electronic democracy - and some links to organizations working on them. By Jodi Kantor, Slate, November 2, 1999. Today: Total:27 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Voting Online
SlateCC BY,

The pros and cons of electronic democracy. By Jacob Weisberg, Slate, October 26, 1999 Today: Total:29 [Comment] [Direct Link]

SlateCC BY,

Started as a typical zine, became widely read for its political and media analysis, was purchased by Microsoft, and now is pretty mainstream. Today: Total:23 [Comment] [Direct Link]


(Still working on this)