New URL for Digito Society

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I need to read this: Educating the Net Generation

This book -- Educating the Net Generation -- looks like a must read for all of us in higher ed.


Academic Freedom Cont'd: Danielle on Ohio Senate Bill 24

Danielle, a student at BGSU, offers up these thoughts on SB #24:
My more liberal professors, like the one I had last semester who forced us to read Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Robert McChesney and other assorted socialists, would say that a bill like SB 24 would make them feel limited as to what they could say, therefore they'd do the same thing to their students (One of my Poli Sci profs told me this). Well, don't they already limit their conservative students to what they can say by making conservative opinions completely outlawed?!?! I say: don't feel limited as to what you can say, but balance it with fact. I'm not paying tuition to hear a subjective, liberal rant. Just like liberal professors claim they have a right to their 'academic freedom' (to say what they want in the classroom), I think it's just as much my right, as a student, to receive an objective and informative education - so my generation of educators doesn't turn out to be one that lives to indoctrinate its students.

Well put, Danielle!

Grumblings Over Google's Updated Toolbar: Double opt-in anyone?

Dan Gillmore summarizes (or this) grumblings about the "autolink" feature in Google's tool bar beta edition:
At the very least, Google needs to make some changes in the installation process. As users install the toolbar they should be asked if they want features that change content on web pages. There should be an opt-in process, not an opt-out process, for such things.
This makes no sense to me. The choice to install Google's Toolbar is itself an opt-in process. Is Dan seriously advocting double opt-in?


Networking as a Mangement Style

Michael Barone outlines the superiority of networking vs. command and control management:
In mid-2003, when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean surged ahead of other Democrats in fundraising and in the polls, much attention was given to campaign manager Joe Trippi's use of the Internet. He used it to bring volunteers and money into the campaign, and to allow Dean supporters to add their own words, literally, in the campaign blog. Many political supporters were impressed, and rightly so, that the Dean campaign amassed a list of 600,000 e-mail addresses. But few reporters at the time took note of the number of e-mail addresses the Bush campaign had collected: 6 million.

Over two years, the Bush campaign built an organization of 1.4 million active volunteers. This was unprecedented. By way of comparison, the Democratic National Committee has said it enlisted 233,000 volunteers during the 2004 campaign. The Bush volunteers worked not just in heavily Republican neighborhoods -- only 15 percent of Republican voters, Mehlman calculated, live in precincts that vote 65 percent or more Republican. Instead, they went everywhere, especially to rural counties, many of them slow-growing places where most politicians figure there are no more votes to be won, and to the fast-growing exurban areas at the edges of metropolitan areas, where most of the young families moving in tend to be Republican. Just as Sam Walton figured he could make huge profits selling things to people in low-income rural areas and in low-fashion exurbs, so Mehlman calculated that he could wring votes out of areas that most political strategists and political reporters ignored.

To make sure that those volunteers were achieving their goals, Mehlman established metrics -- numerical goals, measured by third parties. Every week, the leaders of the local, state, and national organizations got reports on whether those metrics had been achieved. Productive volunteers were given positive reinforcement, sometimes a call from Mehlman himself. Unproductive volunteers were replaced or persuaded to do more. Mehlman's management was very much like former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's management of the New York City Police Department: Precinct commanders were given goals -- low crime numbers -- which were independently validated. Those who produced were promoted; those who failed lost their jobs. As a result, crime in New York was cut by more than 50 percent -- more than even Giuliani thought was possible.

This is not command-and-control management, but management by networking, by holding people accountable and letting them learn from each other how to do better. And in post-industrial America, it got better results than command-and-control management. In crucial states with the largest volunteer organizations, the numbers speak as loud as Giuliani's -- turnout rose 28 percent from 2000 in fast-growing Florida and 20 percent in slow-growing Ohio.
Those results are nothing to sniff at. Interesting implications for for-profit organizations.

Academic Freedom and Ohio Senate Bill 24: Another Update

Mumford's proposed Ohio Senate Bill #24, an academic bill rights, continues to generate response:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer weighs in a story that includes various tid-bits. Fenwick, in trying to deny that indoctrination happens in the classroom instead seems to confirm the premise underlying Mumford's legislation:
"We want to get on record and say the assumption that we are all liberal radicals is unwarranted," said Rudy Fenwick, an Akron sociology professor and chairman of the faculty senate. "The assumption that we oppose all ideologies is unwarranted."
OK, so clearly you oppose some ideologies. 'nuff said. Continuing:

Cleveland State University's faculty senate couldn't reach a compromise earlier this month for its resolution. Most of the faculty vehemently oppose Mumper's bill, citing an infringement on academic freedom, but a strong minority thinks the proposal has merit.

"I think there needs to be a guarantee that no student will be prejudiced for voicing a personal opinion that might be at odds with the professor," said Cleveland State law professor David Forte, a self-described conservative.

Forte figures that more than 90 percent of college and university professors are liberals, and many of them cannot help but exude their bias in class, he says.

"If it is a political science class, [students] will get a liberal perspective and they won't hear many opposing views," Forte said. "Many students are uncomfortable with this."

Seems reasonable to me. Speaking of which, Mumford is sounding very reasonable here:
Forte said Mumper's bill isn't perfect and should not include private schools. The senator said he is willing to remove private schools from the bill.
Amanda Hooper captures the importance of Mumford's concession:
That being said, one of the fundamental flaws with Senate Bill 24 is that it would apply to all colleges in Ohio, public and private alike. To hold privately funded schools to state standards could be disastrous. Many private and parochial schools exist because the consumer is unsatisfied with the state funded options for learning. These institutions are accountable to the users that buy their service, not the government. What would become of private religious universities that choose a religious-based curriculum? Would they be forced to incorporate all religious viewpoints? The government has no right to legislate this marketplace that students choose to attend and pay for.
Meanwhile, the Graduate Student Senate at BGSU fears that:
The bill would also force professors to present dissenting sources and viewpoints besides their own, and to let students reach conclusions by themselves, reducing the role of debate in classrooms.
Unclear to me is how the presentation of alternate viewpoints, and allowing students to reach their own conclusions, would reduce debate in classrooms. Or, are these graduate students stating that they prefer to be told what to think? These folks wouldn't fare well in my classes. Yep, you guessed it, this twisted logic led the GSS to pass a resolution opposing the SB 24. I'd like to think that a room full of graduate students could develop more compelling reasons for opposing Mumford's proposed legislation. And I'm not sure what to make of the report that the director of health services spoke to the group about graduate students lying about their health insurance.


When Ralph Carbone addresses his students in class, he assumes they understand that the discussions may become controversial and heated.

"Most of what I do in class is confronting controversial topics and challenge the logic of both sides," said Washington State Community College chairman of the department of social and behavioral sciences. "The whole idea of liberal education is to question traditional values. I mean that's been the case since Socrates."
Meanwhile, down in Athens, Jordan Carr has this to say:
To deny there is extreme bias in the lectures that are given everyday is just absurd. Just one example: In my marketing class just before the election, we were lectured for an hour on the evils of Issue I and then dismissed. And the bias isn't always liberal -only about 99 percent of the time, I've had a professor that would make derogatory comments about John Kerry, and that was a business law class. Tell me how either of those are relevant to marketing or business law. This is a gross misuse of their position and a waste of the money I'm paying to learn about my relative subjects. Professors have a right to say whatever they want on their own time, but when they waste the time that I have paid for by lecturing about irrelevant subject matter, I feel I should have some meaningful recourse (and don't tell me the evaluations mean anything). This is exactly what Senate Bill 24 is trying to provide students.

Finally, WTAP reports:

A Marietta College professor says he agrees colleges are dominated by a liberal society, but passing a law is no way to handle it.

In addition, he says this bill is somewhat redundant.

He says at Marietta College, students who feel they've been discriminated against because of their beliefs can file a complaint.

It appears the "college professor" so fears speaking out that s/he choose anonymity. That, or WTAP's done some lousy reporting.


Paris Hilton: Publicity Hound Unparallelled

Paris Hilton continues to innovate new ways to spur buzz:
In an interview with Us Weekly magazine, on newsstands Friday, Hilton says: 'I feel horrible that, once again, someone has invaded my privacy. I want to apologize to all my friends and family. I don't know why this stuff always happens to me, but I wish it wouldn't anymore.
Um, right. It is hard to imagine a more perfect gorilla promo strategy for a socialite porn star. The cynicist in me can't help but wonder: Did Paris facilitate this data dump?

Turkey Terrorizes Ohio State Troopers

Hmm ... as though our state troopers don't have enough challenges, the local turkey population has taken to terrorizing troopers: Pics and video. (note: video Firefox hostile).


Apple to Spam Your iPod With Ads

Here's another reason to avoid Apple's iPod portable music players: BBspot reports
Among the features of this new firmware are enhanced playback functionality, a simpler user interface, better song shuffling, and a new banner ad feature that will display information on new Apple and other relevant products.
There's more:
users who don't want to see ads on their iPod that an ad-free iPod would have to buy a "Drink Pepsi" branded iPod for $650 and a $10 monthly fee.
As if paying a premium price for an iPod weren't punishment enough. This sheds new light on Apple's oft stated concern for managing the "total customer experience." This is a keen spoof on Apple's Arrogance. Thanks BBspot!

UPDATE (2005-2-26): To the folks over at Anumati that can't recognize a joke when fictional status is stated: go ahead, pour ALL of your life savings into APPL.


Brand Autopsy Blinks on Gladwell?

In jumping to assume an association between Malcolm Gladwell and Big Pharma, it appears that Brand Autopsy has blinked.

Ascendancy of Not So Bigness?

Grant observes:
the problem is that as a room becomes “too giant, it loses its connection with its inhabitants.” This means that the NYT is now prepared to join the apostasy by Susanka’s “Not so big house” movement that has been in the works for some time now.
Interesting. The "not so big" trend appears to generalize beyond housing. The iPod shuffle exemplifies this trend. So, too, does consumer trending away from monster SUVs, in favor of smaller vehicles. I wonder: where else is this not so bigness trend evident?

On another note, I added the This Blog Sits at The ... blog to my feed list a few weeks ago. Yet, only tonight did I discover that it is Grant McCracken's blog. What a wonderful surprise! I've been following Grant's work since I was a wet behind the ears PhD student in the late '80s. I've a preorder at Amazon.com for Grant's latest book Culture and Consumption II. I'll post a review when I get a copy.

Digital camera boom cresting?

Is the digital camera market about to crest?
The PMAI says 52% of households will own a digital camera by the end of the year. Many consumers are already on their second digital camera purchase, suggesting the market is maturing earlier than expected, says Chris Chute, an analyst with market research firm IDC.

As a result, manufacturers are adding features and dropping prices. 'The competition will be fierce,' Chute says.

That's great news for consumers.

Photofinishers, from small one-hour photo labs to the local Wal-Mart (WMT) and CVS drugstore (CVS), are getting more aggressive in pushing digital printing. The average cost of a lab-produced 4-by-6 print in 2004 was 30 cents, down from 61 cents in 2000, says the PMAI.

52% penetration of the consumer market is just astounding. It appears that the consumer digital imaging market is rapidly reforming to strongly resemble the film-based consumer market.


Napster's Business Model Cracked

Napster's new subscription business model is cracked:
Users have found a way to skirt copy protection on Napster Inc's portable music subscription service just days after its high-profile launch, potentially letting them make CDs with hundreds of thousands of songs for free.

Check these specifics:
Engadget.com said by installing the digital music programme Winamp and then adding a secondary programme to Winamp called Output Stacker, users could convert the digitally protected files from one format to another that can then be burned, unencumbered, onto CDs.

"We're not going to advise you to do anything untoward, but apparently if you install Winamp along with the Output Stacker plug-in you can convert those protected WMA files to WAV files and then burn them to CD without paying a penny. Or at least an extra penny," Engadget.com said in an item on its site.
Here's the original post on engadget. And a follow-up post claiming no big deal. I dunno, this could be a big deal to ONU students come spring quarter.

Academic Freedom Cont'd: Yet more on Ohio Senate bill 24

The Faculty Senate at Ohio University "unanimously passed a resolution opposing Ohio Senate Bill 24, which calls for the establishment of a so-called 'Academic Bill of Rights.'" Hmm ... no reporter bias here. I believe David Horowitz does, in fact, call it an Academic Bill of Rights. No "so-called" required.

University faculty, including those at OU, largely have opposed such efforts, saying they violate academic freedom and duplicate grievance processes already available to disgruntled students.

The OU faculty resolution claims that such a law would "shift responsibility for conducting and monitoring academic affairs from universities and professional accrediting organizations to state government," and that the body "vigorously opposes S.B. 24 both in spirit and substance and calls for withdrawal of the (state) Senate bill."
Parsing out the elements:
  • Restricts academic freedom. As I've argued before, the whining about restricting academic freedom just doesn't hold water. If faculty are teaching their discipline, the law would have no effect on them. If that's the case, then why the intense opposition?

  • Duplicates existing processes. If the law does duplicate existing processes available to students, that's seems the glimmer an argument with some substance. To argue that processes exist inspires the obvious next question: are existing student grievance processes sufficient or effective. I am aware of an instance in which a faculty at a university in the Ohio State system menacingly warned a class that he kept a gun. No students reported the incident because they lacked sufficient confidence that the established "student grievance procedures" would protect them or their grade in the class.

  • Shifts responsibility. I believe the "shift responsibility" argument misses the primary point that this legislation is aimed primarily at university administrators; that it inspires university administrators to ensure that students are receiving the education they believe they are paying for. Yes, but isn't this what university administrators are supposed to do? Yes. Do they? Sometimes. Is this legislation the best way to increase the accountability of university administrators? Probably not. The legislature controls the budgets of all Ohio system Universities. Budgetary control would seem to provide legislators their most powerful weapon for ensuring that state universities support free discourse. Ultimately, this legislation is a warning shot that should not be ignored.

This irony from Megan, a student at BGSU:

And what exactly is there to protect us from? From hearing someone voice an opinion we disagree with?

Listening to other people say things you don't like is something that will happen a lot in your lifetime. You can't enact a law for every situation where your opinion could potentially meet adversity.

Accept it. Embrace it. Have a heated discussion, become passionate, let someone offend you every once in awhile. It's not going to kill you.

If you disagree that wholeheartedly with someone, a professor or anybody else, it will only remind you of why you feel the way you do. It will affirm your views and make your convictions that much stronger.

After all, isn't that what becoming an educated person is all about?

I agree completely with Megan that encountering alternate perspectives is essential to growth. Yet, I believe Megan misses the point of SB #24. SB #24 is all about spirited debate and fervent exploration of contrasting positions. SB #24 actually encourages such a climate. Unfortunately, some faculty believe they have a right to grade students on the basis the ideology they express rather than the quality of their reasoning. That is not what becoming an educated person is about. This is the faculty behavior SB #24 addresses. Mastering the skill of collecting facts and organizing them into a coherent (possibly contradictory) position is what becoming an educated person is all about.

Megan concludes she is against SB #24. Yet, the arguments she advances instead suggest strong support for the thesis behind SB #24. SB #24 is all about expanding the variety of positions that you, and all students, have the opportunity to experience. How ironic.


Podcasting: All You Need to Know

Podcasting: all you need to know is packed into this 4 Minutes About Podcasting.

Update: A summary of the structural factors that are aligning to suggest rapid diffusion of podcasting. Compelling.

The Power of Google's Long Tail

TheLongTail offers a supurb summary of what makes Google's business model so intriguing:
What Google has done is to find and monetize the Long Tails of both advertisers and publishers. These include millions of small companies and individuals who may never have advertised before, at least not nationally. They were considered sub-scale--too small to be worth a call or visit from an ad salesperson, possible too small to even think of themselves as an advertiser at all. But Google ads are self-service, cheap, and performance based (pay-per-click), which all combine to dramatically lower the barrier to entry.

Matching these advertisers are hundreds of thousands of previously sub-scale 'publishers', from blogs to niche commercial sites. Most are too small to have their own ad sales business, but they can now run relevant Google ads by just adding a few lines of HTML to their site. About half of Google's business now comes from such 'partners', rather than from ads sold against search results themselves.
eBay works similar wonders.

RSS Synopsis

VentureBlog offers a very nice synopsis of RSS. I find this crystal ball prediction most intriguing:
Another direction is enterprise use for RSS. Imagine replacing Microsoft Exchange with an interlocking array of RSS feeds. Each user with Outlook receives their shared calendar, contacts, and other information from subscriptions to RSS feeds. Or they become contributors, sharing one of their calendars with others. I'm sure reading that sentence inspires a host of potential objections for why RSS can not do that. Yet.
Thought provoking.

The IM Divide

Many2Many offers this intriguing hypothesis summary:
  • The divide is due to a recognition of IM as a presence tool vs. just seeing it as a communication tool.
  • The just-came-to-chat folks assert a power differential between peers by demanding that the always-on’rs pay attention to them when they appear.
  • IM exacerbates power-differentials by implying that there is equality in participants, as though it is an equalizing context.
There is a cultural divide between different groups of users of IM, namely the always-on’rs and the just-came-to-chat folks.

This is brought to you in synopsis of a brain candy rant on apophenia.

Interesting. Today attempted a discussion about privacy issues with my eCommerce class. In the course of things, I asked if they had any privacy concerns about their IM away messages. After they finished staring at me like I had just sprouted a third head, someone ventured, "well, you know it's public. besides, only my buddies see it." Hmm ...


College Student Trivia: 90% own a computer ...etc ...

Here's a revealing roundup of college student product ownership trivia:
College students have $122 bln in spending power, of which $24 bln in discretionary spending. Their average annual per capita spending is $13,000. 90% of college students own a computer, 65% of those students have broadband connection. 62% own a stereo, a cell phone (77%), a printer (77%), a television (84%) and a calculator (86%). 74% own a DVD player and 55% own a gaming system. 62% of college students use their cell phone for text messaging and playing games (70%). 41% of students with cell phones can access the Internet through their mobile phone.
Meanwhile: College student cell phone ownership is depriving universities of a high margin revenue stream.

More Consumers Paying for Music Downloads

Now, this is interesting:
About 47 percent of people who downloaded music in December and who were age 12 or older paid a fee to do so, the market researcher said. That's up from 22 percent a year ago. The study is based on data from a sample of 1,112 respondents.

This reinforces the notion that consumers are willing to pay for value.

Hat tip to ITFacts.biz where you can also find an excellent round-up of music statistics.

Gray America: The Next Frontier for Internet Diffusion

MediaPost reports:
The online presence of Americans aged 65 and older jumped 25 percent this year, to a total of almost 10 million surfers, while 55- to 64-year-olds increased their numbers by 15 percent, to almost 16 million, according to a new study by Nielsen//NetRatings.

Despite the increases, this age group still has a long way to go. Only 22 percent of Americans over 65 go online, the study shows, compared with 75 percent of those ages 30 to 49.

The 65 market in America:
  • 42% have used a computer
  • 41% have a computer at home
  • 31% have ever gone online
  • 33% have Internet access at home
According to studies from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Pew, e-mail is the top activity for this market. Among Americans 65 and over, 93 percent of wired seniors use e-mail.

Other findings include:
  • 68% have checked the weather online
  • 67% read news online
  • 58% go online for hobby information
  • 57% have bought a product such as books, clothes, or plane tickets online.
  • 53% search for health and medical information
  • 53% browse for fun
To put a personal spin on this: the Digito Daughters routinely email with their grandparents. Email is my primary communication medium with my parents. Ditto for the Digito Spouse. The great grandparents do not have a computer.

Digital Camera Growth to Peak in 2005

The Photo Marketing Association predicts:
'Digital cameras are expected to continue their growth in 2006 before reaching their peak at the end of that year or the next,' PMA said. 'As the digital camera market matures, industry revenue will increasingly depend on accessories, consumables and services.'
This Indian perspective on the digital photography boom is quite interesting.

Only one adjective captures the diffusion rate of digital photography: Phenomenal!

Academic Freedom Cont'd: Roundup of Latest Reactions to Ohio Senate Bill 24

Commentary on Ohio SB #24 -- a warning shot to the academic community that should not be ignored -- continues to pour in. Here's a round-up of the latest:

Students a the University of Toledo have poked at SB 24 with this resolution:

. . . deeming Senate Bill 24 'a bill of statuary requirements, with no rational bearing, which will have an adverse impact on ... the colleges and universities in the state of Ohio.'

S.B. 24, a bill authored by Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper, asks that college courses be based on facts rather than the opinions of, what Mumper says, are mostly liberal professors.

Samuel Nelson, assistant professor of political science, spoke against S.B. 24 at the senate meeting.

'If I have to think about what the state legislature thinks of my syllabus ... I would self censor,' he said, adding that such a bill would have a 'chilling effect' on what professors could do in classes.

The resolution passed 30 to one."
If a professor of political science can't distinguish between facts and opinions, perhaps he should consider another career.

Faculty at Ohio U. have also weighed in:

On the one hand, some OU faculty are running down the misguided First Amendment alley:
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," warned Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt, a professor in the School of Communication System Management. "American higher education is built upon free speech and the open exchange of ideas. We don't need to protect students from ideas."
While other faculty recognize why four Ohio Senators are motivated to launch this legislative warning shot:
"Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics, maintained that while the bill contains flaws and vague provisions, it does address legitimate issues. "I think institutions themselves need to be rigidly impartial and neutral regarding major political issues of the day," he said. "Increasingly, they are violating that proposition, weighing in on everything from gay marriage to tax policy. They are now paying the cost for this."

"Vedder argued that universities have created the problems that the bill seeks to fix. "By trying to enforce political correctness, imposing student speech codes and other violations of First Amendment rights, universities have brought this on themselves," he said. "What is surprising is not this bill, but that it has taken this long to materialize."
Meanwhile, Martin Tuck, OU's associate provost for academic affairs, prefers a head-in-sand posture:
"Bills like this make me incredibly nervous, Professors should show good judgment about these issues. I'm against legislation to force it."
A rather bland statement from the administrator responsible for making sure faculty are doing their jobs. If professors are, indeed, showing good judgment, then SB #24 would have no discernible effect on academic discourse.
Several faculty and student views are captured in this Marion Star article.

CAIR-Ohio weighs in:
CAIR, along with the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, opposes passage of this bill because it could be used to curtail academic freedom and to encourage thought policing in our institutes of higher education. The bill would have a chilling effect on freedom of inquiry on Ohio's campuses.
David Horowitz -- author of the Academic Bill of Rights on which SB #24 is modeled -- responds to CAIR-Ohio and other critics of SB #24:
The campaign against Mumper's Bill, as against the Academic Bill of Rights generally, is as unscrupulous as it is mendacious. Both of these organizations charge that the Academic Bill of Rights legislation would put academic discourse under government control and restrict academic free speech. In fact, the Academic Bill of Rights and Senate Bill 24 are specifically designed to do just the opposite: to encourage diverse views and to restrict none. They are aimed at an academic orthodoxy that currently suppresses opposition and that makes frauds like Ward Churchill – the very antithesis of a scholar and teacher – chairs of academic departments. Who could object to such legislation? Like-minded ideologues could.
Read the rest.

CNSNews has this round-up.


Virus Epidemic: Our Future?

IBM reports this cherry news:
In what International Business Machines Corp. calls a 'new and troubling trend,' 2005 should see an epidemic of viruses and worms attacking handheld devices, cellphones, wireless networks and embedded computers, which include car and satellite communication systems.

Oh, boy! Ultimately, I suppose that amounts to a call for ecosystem diversity.


Digital Music Sales < 2% of Total Music Sales

According to this source: "'Digital music sales make up less than two percent of the total music business" ... interesting. The creator of MP3Tunes.com offers an explanation:
because many consumers know they aren't really buying the music - they're renting it from a big corporation that controls what software, computer and portable devices they can use," Robertson said. "A consumer-friendly digital music store that provides true music ownership to paying customers can triple the digital music business almost overnight."
He hopes.


GPS is Disrupting Lighthouses

Here's an interesting illustration of how GPS technology is causing:disruption in one industry:
The popularity of the satellite-based global positioning system has led to the closure of lighthouses along the German coast. Many more may soon be extinguished. But critics question whether the new system is reliable and safe enough to warrant the closure of these historical beacons of safety.

Curious about PodCasting? Have 4 Mins?

Curious about PodCasting? Here's a brief 4 Minutes About Podcasting. Enjoy.

Great Read: Why this "Internet thing" is just starting

Seth Godin offers 10 compelling reasons on Why this "Internet thing" is just starting. Good stuff. My favorite points:
7. Grandmothers. It is no longer necessary to explain to the average American (of any generation) what this "Internet thing" is. Google has made the world safe for entrepreneurs. Don't underestimate how important this is.

I think that Seth underplays this one. I'd replace grandmothers with Great-grandparents. Most grand parents I know are active internet users: emailing their grand kids or shopping on the web.
8. Teenagers. The Yahoo generation is now getting driver's licenses!! These are kids who have grown up without encyclopedias or videocassettes or lps. These are kids who have completely and permanently integrated the Net into their lives and are about to go to work and to college.
Is higher ed ready for this? I don't think so.

Lecture Causes Censure of Academic freedom

Professor Hans Hoppe's experience at UNLV illustrates the type of academic freedom that Mumford's Ohio House Senate Bill 24 is designed to protect. When a faculty member is subjected to hearings for delivering a lecture that included facts directly related to the class topic, that some find uncomfortable, academic freedom is under siege.

Free Speech Confusion: More on Mumford's Ohio Senate Bill #24

Editorialists at Youngstown State and Ohio University share common ground in their diatribes against House Bill 24:
"In a blatant attempt to drastically limit the freedom of expression, which is still protected by the First Amendment last time anyone checked," (Daniel Rinder)
Neither understands the boundaries of freedom of speech. Neither realizes that freedom of speech does not apply to the work place. Neither understands that freedom of expression is limited on college campuses. Hey, guys and gals, why do you think your university has a designated "free speech zone"? You don't enjoy unlimited freedom of expression now, nor would this law impact you.

I agree a classroom should be a safe place to exchange differing ideas and complementary facts, and to do without concern about reprisals for expressing those ideas or facts. However, I believe it is reasonable to expect that classroom discussion be bounded to ideas pertinent to the domain of the class generally, and the topic of discussion specifically.

To advocate that individuals have a right to spew whatever viewpoint they prefer, about any topic, in any classroom, creates a scenario that yields chaos in the classroom. Inhibits a productive dialog and does not reflect an effective learning environment.

As mentioned before, I do not support this law. I do, however support the spirit motivating the law. Specifically, I support the idea that faculty should spend class time on topics that directly pertain to the class. I also believe in the free exchange of different positions as long as those alternate positions are grounded in concepts or facts relevant to the class and the topic under investigation. I also believe students should not be penalized should they, after due consideration of the available evidence, reach a conclusion different from mine.

Ultimately, I am curious: Why do these students feel it is so onerous to ask faculty to use class time teaching their discipline?


Halftime 2005: No Unnecessary Boobage

I watched exactly one half of a football game last year. Yep, it was the Superbowl. When the second quarter ended, I urged the girls to get ready for bed. "Can we watch the half-time show first?" they plead. "Sure!" I replied, thinking it would be more interesting than the game. I wasn't prepared for Justin's bump-grind with Janet. Nor was I prepared for the "wardrobe malfunction," immediately after which the eldest Digito Daughter turned to me and stated in a matter-of-fact voice, "That was unnecessary."

True to form, I've again watched exactly .5 football games this year. Yep, the half-time show was boob-free. Indeed, there wasn't a single female evident on-stage during the half-time show. Fox must have been feeling a tad gun-shy after last year's Viagra overdosed debacle.

I'm relieved. The stars have realigned. The Superbowl is again truly "family" entertainment. The world is right again. Amen.

Update: Out of compassion, I reduced the size of the image. A student complained that the image caused a kurfluffle when he was reading Digito Society via his laptop while in class (not mine!). From here on out I'll use the "safe for in-class reading" criteria when choosing images.


Kodak Tops Sony in Digicam Shipments

Kodak tops Sony in digicam shipments. Interesting or not? I'm inclined toward not. Sony has never been a brand for the Wal-Mart masses. Kodak has. Methinks this reflects the digicam market settling toward long-term equilibrium.


Ohio Legislator Proposes that Academics Teach their Discipline

Ohio Legislator Larry Mumford is fed up with academics preaching ideology rather than teaching their discipline. Mumford has proposed legislation that would require academics in Ohio to reach their discipline and require that
be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs. Faculty and instructors shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination.
David Horowitz' Academic Bill of Rights inspired Mumford

The left and Democrats (is that a posimoron?) are having a hissy fit. Here | Here | Here | Here | Google News.

I find it ironic that the Bowling Green State University faculty senate discussed extending benefits to gay/lesbian employee partners that same day they railed against Mumford's proposed legislation.

To be clear: I do not support Mumford's legislation. I do think that Mumford's legislation offers a potent indictment of the academy.

That said, the left would be wise to recognize a shot across the bow when one comes within glancing distance. My liberal academic friends that work for state institutions suggest that the state legislators -- the very legislators that determine the budget for their institutions -- are "dumb" and "don't get it." Familiar rhetoric. Mumford's legislation should give them reason to look in the mirror and ask, "what have we done to precipitate this"?

UPDATE: A student's view:
While professors may feel as though this bill could limit academic freedom or their ability to run their classrooms in a free and unrestricted manner, don't we, the students, deserve an unbiased education?
Hmm ... sounds reasonable to me. An education consumer expecting an education.

The Marion Star sounds off. The ACLU steps in.

Update 2 (Feb6 @ 2:15 p.m.): Welcome Instapundit readers!


Subscription Shipping

Amazon.com just introduced Amazon Prime ... a subscription shipping offer. Here's the scoop:
Unlimited Express Shipping
  • Free Two-Day Shipping on over a million in-stock items
  • Overnight Shipping for only $3.99 per item—order as late as 6:30 PM ET
Effortless Shopping
  • No minimum purchase required
  • No need to consolidate items to save on shipping
Convenient Sharing
  • Share the benefits of your Amazon Prime membership with up to four family members living in the same household
Hmm ... very interesting. It would be interesting to compare the purchasing behavior under these different shipping rate pricing strategies:
  • Subscription (pre-paid) shipping
  • Tiered shipping rates in which
    • the larger your cumulative purchases over a time-period, the lower your shipping rates, or
    • a threshold is defined that, once reached, all shipping charges paid to date are refunded, or
    • A cap is placed on cumulative shipping charges over the course of a time period.
  • Free shipping.
  • "Standard" shipping
UPDATE (2/6 @ 5 p.m.): Seth Goodin suggests:
But this has nothing to do with saving money on shipping and everything to do with Amazon's innate understanding of human nature. Once you buy in, every single time you buy something from any other store (online or off) you'll say to yourself, "ouch, I can't buy this here. I'll be wasting the money I spent at Amazon."
Hmm ... a pre-pay lock-in. Is this an effective long-run strategy when the pre-pay is for an add-on that complements the core value offering? Especially when those of us with patience can avoid shipping/handling charges altogether for many Amazon purchases?

That's an important difference relative to this scenario that Seth suggests:
Imagine a new chain of cafes that offers a coffee club. For a flat fee, you get all the wifi and lattes you can handle. With the markup on both, the owner does great, and people would feel terrible every time they strayed.
Here, as the pre-pay is tied to the core value offering, this type of approach strikes me as offering considerably more long-term potential.


What Sucks Makes for Good Learning

Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck is a classic in the web (mis)design genre. Check out his Biggest Web Design Mistakes of 2004. Good stuff. Hat tip to Seth.

The Long Tail

There are interesting rumblings over at The Long Tail. This array of Long Tail Definitions is especially tasty.

Interestingly, the long tail has long dominated activity in the [academic] research community and is a key factor contributing to its vitality and diversity. As the traditional richness/reach frontier has been demolished -- thanks to the increasing volume of academic literature accessible digitally -- the potential for previously obscure works to exert powerful influence is greater than any time in history.

Yet, this makes me wonder: what is happening over at The Long Tail that adds additional variance explained to what Evans and colleagues have written in their HBR piece, or book Blown to Bits? Curious.