Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eric Schmidt Video at CMU

Many have prolly already seen this, but I still find it interesting. It's Google's Eric Schmidt delivering the commencement address at Carnegie Mellon. I really wish more educators would think through how the characteristics he describes need to be used when designing curriculum. Educators and students need to be engaged and to be taught relevant skills, in addition to practicing creativity, criticality, and what I think of as progressive irreverence.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time Magazine's 10 Biggest Tech Failures of the Last Decade

Interesting "failure to launch" list and story. I'd like to see what these "failures" made possible or probable, by laying the groundwork or context for new innovations and expectations. Or, paths never to be trodden again (i.e., Vista).

Failure to Launch List

Microsoft Vista
Sirius XM
Microsoft Zune

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

AFT Report Details and Reaffirms Exploitation of Contingent Labor

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has released American Academic: The State of the Higher Education Workforce 1997-2007.

The report is a 10-year analysis of hiring trends and faculty composition at community colleges and public and private colleges/universities. The findings show accelerated erosion of stable faculty positions with respectable wages and working conditions. AFT's report also shows that the trend of exploitation continues when it comes to "contingent" labor and graduate teaching assistants. Individuals within the academy that were interviewed about the report's findings, from my perusal of early reporting, seem to lay blame on market forces. To that I say, of course BUT individual departments and schools have allowed this to happen AND have even embraced this exploitation to protect the privileges of the already highly paid and tenured who enjoy low(er) teaching loads and academic freedom. This lowers the quality of intellectual exploration and education, as the bulk of the courses taught are done so by contingent labor. It is disgusting to see those in a position to take a stand simply step aside; and, in many cases, to witness the eagerness of continued hocking of bogus goods to graduate students and the nontenured by way of false hopes and promises.

By not owning the consequences of silence and hypocrisy the tenured and tenure-track are killing the academy and its promise. You know who you are.

Here's a great chart, from InsideHigherEd's synopsis of the report, with some key figures.

Distribution of Teaching Positions in Higher Education, 1997 and 2007

Job Type 1997 2007
All Institutions

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 33.1% 27.3%
--Full time, non-tenure track 14.2% 14.9%
--Part time 34.1% 36.9%
--Graduate assistants 18.6% 20.9%
Public doctoral granting universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 34.1% 28.9%
--Full time, non-tenure track 14.1% 14.4%
--Part time 14.3% 15.8%
--Graduate assistants 37.5% 41.0%
Public four-year colleges and universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 51.0% 39.0%
--Full time, non-tenure track 9.0% 10.9%
--Part time 33.6% 43.9%
--Graduate assistants 5.7% 6.3%
Public community colleges

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 20.6% 17.5%
--Full time, non-tenure track 13.4% 13.8%
--Part time 64.7% 68.6%
--Graduate assistants 1.2% 0.0%
Private doctoral-granting universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 34.9% 29.2%
--Full time, non-tenure track 17.3% 17.9%
--Part time 29.9% 31.3%
--Graduate assistants 17.9% 21.6%
Private four-year colleges and universities

--Full time, tenured or tenure track 39.3% 29%
--Full time, non-tenure track 15.6% 17.2%
--Part time 42.3% 52.2%
--Graduate assistants 2.9% 1.6%

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Scanning: The Google Edge

Google has a propriety book scanning technique AND has a patent on said technique. There's an article with diagrams at BuzzNewsRoom and at TechCrunch. As both articles highlight, Google is scanning thousands (millions?) of books a year...who knows how many?

Regardless, the point is that the project is full speed ahead and it looks as if there's no turning back to the way things used to be when it comes to searching, retrieving, and accessing information/books. Being a library science scholar I can't help but think what this continues to mean for librarians. I am still working through scenarios, as every librarian should be, because these are exciting and quickly changing times. The main challenge/excitement for me is the fact that how we conceptualize the institution of library and the practices that articulate that institution is way different now.

Libraries will never be able to scan books as quickly as Google. However, we will be able to curate better (or with different objectives) because information seekers need curation that isn't bound up in selling something. It's a knowledge project, and as long as librarians recognize that we can move successfully around in these new spaces without old institutional strictures.

Thoughts, anyone?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Google Goats

Here's a link to Google's blog post announcing their use of goats instead of lawn mowers. Click here. I'm digging it, seriously.