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October 7, 2013

Undermining ‘data’: A critical examination of a core term in scientific inquiry
Annette N. Markham, First Monday, October 7, 2013


The allure of data, says Annette N. Markham, is that it is "a priori and collectable." It is the fact of the matter, established before the fact. But as she argues here, the frame through which we collect and examine data, especially big data, changes what we see. On one hand, "The entire industry of academic publishing is predicated on the foundation of knowledge building, which looks more like a finished product than an ongoing dialogue among colleagues." But as David Weinberger says, "the networking of knowledge may be teaching us that the world itself is more like a shapeless, intertwingled, unmasterable web than like a well–reasoned argument." We need to rethink what we mean by research. "We’re not just asking the wrong question. We’re using frames that both privilege and reinforce a very narrow notion of inquiry."

Today's First Monday is based on the theme of data, and especially big data. View the table of contents. A couple articles also worthy of note include The Big Head and the Long Tail, which looks at differences in content types, and A Critical Reflection on Big Data, which looks at the information available through APIs. Several papers referenced danah boyd and Kate Crawford, Critical Questions for Big Data, which defines big data as "a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon that rests on the interplay of (1) Technology (gather, analyze, link, and compare large data sets, (2) Analysis (identify patterns in order to make economic, social, technical, and legal claims), and (3) Mythology (the widespread belief that large data sets offer a higher form of intelligence and knowledge).

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Vive la Révolution MOOC
Steve Kolowich, October 6, 2013


EdX is reaching into France with the announcement of this France Université Numerique (FUN) "which it hopes will serve as an online clearinghouse for MOOCs offered by various French universities." This announcement follows in the classic MIT tradition of announcing things when they start working them, not when they're complete; there are no courses or anything yet. Here's the press release the Chronicle story is based on. And the announcement en français from the FrenchMinistère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche, and the FUN background page.

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Canaries in the Coal Mine
Ellie Brewster, Exploring the virtual classroom, October 6, 2013


This is a blog post about the first meeting of a Second Life discussion group formed to discuss the videos of a distributed open collaborative course on feminism and technology. More information about the group can be found here. And more about the course can be found on the course website.

"Most of us are information workers," writes Ellie Brewster, "and there was a vigorous nodding of avatar heads when we discussed this quote from Wacjman: in creative industries, or whatever terms you use for these kinds of industries, that people are working extraordinarily long hours, they’re not unionized, they’re a perfect example of the blurring of private time and time for their employer, although they are self-employed and don’t think of it this way."

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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