Monday, April 30, 2012

Stop Telling Students to Study for Exams - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Stop Telling Students to Study for Exams - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education: This dysfunctional system reaches its zenith with the cumulative "final" exam. We even go so far as to commemorate this sacred academic ritual by setting aside a specially designated "exam week" at the end of each term. This collective exercise in sadism encourages students to cram everything that they think they need to "know" (temporarily for the exam) into their brains, deprive themselves of sleep and leisure activities, complete (or more likely finally start) term papers, and memorize mounds of information. While this traditional exercise might prepare students for the inevitable bouts of unpleasantness they will face as working adults, its value as a learning process is dubious.

Nordic Countries Increasingly Attractive as Sites for Data Centers -

Nordic Countries Increasingly Attractive as Sites for Data Centers -

While the cold temperatures in the Nordic countries provide natural cooling, Sweden, Norway and Iceland are also leaders in the production of inexpensive renewable energy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Data Harvesting at Google Not a Rogue Act, Report Finds -

Google Engineer Told Others of Data Collection, F.C.C. Report Reveals -

SAN FRANCISCO — Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Demystifying social media - McKinsey Quarterly - Marketing & Sales - Digital Marketing

Demystifying social media - McKinsey Quarterly - Marketing & Sales - Digital Marketing:

Last year, for example, a hoax photograph posted online claimed that McDonald’s was charging African-Americans an additional service fee. The hoax first appeared on Twitter, where the image rapidly went viral just before the weekend as was retweeted with the hashtag #seriouslymcdonalds. It turned out to be a working weekend for the McDonald’s social-media team. On Saturday, the company’s director of social media released a statement through Twitter declaring the photograph to be a hoax and asking key influencers to “please let your followers know.” The company continued to reinforce that message throughout the weekend, even responding personally to concerned Tweeters. By Sunday, the number of people who believed the image to be authentic had dwindled, and McDonald’s stock price rose 5 percent the following day.
Responding in order to counter negative comments and reinforce positive ones will only increase in importance. The responsibility for taking action may fall on functions outside marketing, and the message will differ depending on the situation. No response can be quick enough, and the ability to act rapidly requires the constant, proactive monitoring of social media—on weekends too. By responding rapidly, transparently, and honestly, companies can positively influence consumer sentiment and behavior.

Understanding social media in China - McKinsey Quarterly - Marketing & Sales - Digital Marketing

Understanding social media in China - McKinsey Quarterly - Marketing & Sales - Digital Marketing:

No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. Listing the companies that don’t have access to China’s exploding social-media space underscores just how different it is from those of many Western markets. Understanding that space is vitally important for anyone trying to engage Chinese consumers: social media is a larger phenomenon in the world’sa second-biggest economy than it is in other countries, including the United States. And it’s not indecipherable. Chinese consumers follow the same decision-making journey as their peers in other countries, and the basic rules for engaging with them effectively are reassuringly familiar.

Facebook Fight in Germany Leads to Battle Over Privacy -

Facebook Fight in Germany Leads to Battle Over Privacy -

Ariane Friedrich, an Olympic high-jump hopeful, published the personal details of a fan who sent her a sexually explicit message, prompting a stir in a country where the right to privacy is sacrosanct.

More than 10,000 people have posted comments on her Facebook page, split between those who cheered her decision as bold move against sexual harassment, and those who chastised her for “vigilante justice.” The “likes” on her Facebook page have jumped from 8,000 to 12,000. Newspapers and television have picked up the controversy as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Your Privacy Is Tested With Every Click You Make -

Your Privacy Is Tested With Every Click You Make -
WHEN you write a post on Facebook about your sudden craving for blue cheese, an advertisement for gout prevention might suddenly pop up on your page. Post the phrase “bacon tidbits,” and you might get an ad for a book called “Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse.”

The robots are watching us. They’re announcing to the world that we just looked at Eames chairs on Pinterest and that we’ve listened to Taylor Swift and Conway Twitty on Spotify. They’re sending us ads labeled “Being Conservative in South Carolina” simply because we checked our e-mail in Charleston. They’re broadcasting the fact that we just read an article called “How to Satisfy Your Partner in Bed.” They’re trumpeting — with an undue amount of enthusiasm — that we just scored 6 points on Words With Friends for making the word “cat.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rise in Scientific Journal Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform -

Rise in Scientific Journal Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform -

In October 2011, for example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent. In 2010 The Journal of Medical Ethics published a study finding the new raft of recent retractions was a mix of misconduct and honest scientific mistakes.

Several factors are at play here, scientists say. One may be that because journals are now online, bad papers are simply reaching a wider audience, making it more likely that errors will be spotted. “You can sit at your laptop and pull a lot of different papers together,” Dr. Fang said.

But other forces are more pernicious. To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Facebook Offers More Disclosure to Users -

Facebook Offers More Disclosure to Users -

In a posting on its privacy blog, Facebook said the expanded archive feature would be introduced gradually to its 845 million monthly active users. It goes beyond the first archive made available in 2010, which has been criticized as incomplete by privacy advocates and regulators in Europe.

“We welcome that Facebook users are now getting more access to their data, but Facebook is still not in line with the European Data Protection Law,” said Mr. Schrems, a student at the University of Vienna. “With the changes, Facebook will only offer access to 39 data categories, while it is holding at least 84 such data categories about every user.”

In 2011, Mr. Schrems requested his own data from Facebook and received files with information in 57 categories. The disclosure, Mr. Schrems said, showed that Facebook was keeping information he had previously deleted from the Web site, and was also storing information on his whereabouts, gleaned from his computer’s I.P. address.

Small Businesses Reap Benefits of Arab Spring -

Small Businesses Reap Benefits of Arab Spring -

“Investors historically targeted well-established companies that had very low risk and provided high returns,” he said in an interview. “But now, after the Arab Spring, investors are pouring the same amounts of money into multiple smaller companies, betting a few of them will see a remarkable success.”

“Back in 2005 we were doing in the range of $300 million in MENA,” he said, using the acronym for the region. “We’re now allocating more than $2 billion a year.” The money was mostly going to small and midsize businesses, he said, with investment opportunities in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and Morocco.

Digital differences | Pew Internet & American Life Project

Digital differences | Pew Internet & American Life Project:

The ways in which people connect to the internet are also much more varied today than they were in 2000. As a result, internet access is no longer synonymous with going online with a desktop computer:

Currently, 88% of American adults have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-book reader, and 19% have a tablet computer; about six in ten adults (63%) go online wirelessly with one of those devices.

Gadget ownership is generally correlated with age, education, and household income, although some devices—notably e-book readers and tablets—are as popular or even more popular with adults in their thirties and forties than young adults ages 18-29.

The rise of mobile is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access.

Even beyond smartphones, both African Americans and English-speaking Latinos are as likely as whites to own any sort of mobile phone, and are more likely to use their phones for a wider range of activities.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mining Our Own Personal Data, for Self-Discovery -

Mining Our Own Personal Data, for Self-Discovery -
MOST of us accumulate huge amounts of data in our lives — including e-mails, telephone calls and spikes of writing activity, as measured by daily keystrokes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Facebook Plays Offense and Defense by Buying Instagram -

Facebook Plays Offense and Defense by Buying Instagram -
SAN FRANCISCO — Is it crazy for Facebook, a start-up that has not yet even gone public, to be throwing $1 billion at Instagram, an even younger start-up?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Special Online Collection: Dealing with Data

Special Online Collection: Dealing with Data:
In the 11 February 2011 issue, Science joins with colleagues from Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Careers to provide a broad look at the issues surrounding the increasingly huge influx of research data. This collection of articles highlights both the challenges posed by the data deluge and the opportunities that can be realized if we can better organize and access the data.

Arab Spring Inspires Artistic Expression in Middle East -

Arab Spring Inspires Artistic Expression in Middle East -

AMMAN — As scenes of Arab street protests fill his television set, Abu Saqer, a petty domestic tyrant, panics at the thought of losing control of his household. His daughter wants to wear a brighter shade of lipstick. His son wants to join the protests.

“A barrier of fear has been shattered in the region,”

The Arab Spring has, at least momentarily, broken through decades of self-censorship and fear that plagued repressive societies. The regional revolutions have inspired forms of artistic expression.

Arguments go back and forth on political topics and human rights issues that were unmentionable in public before the Arab Spring.

social media activists are keeping a tab, in real time, on activists who have been taken into detention or otherwise attacked by governments new or old.

paintings inspired by the Arab Spring were removed from the annual Dubai Art Fair, deemed by the Dubai authorities to be unacceptable. a painting by the Moroccan artist Zakaria Ramhani, was based on the famous news photograph of a woman protester, widely referred to as the “girl in the blue bra,” half-stripped and beaten by the police in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

'Girls Around Me' Shows a Dark Side of Social Networks | PCWorld Business Center

'Girls Around Me' Shows a Dark Side of Social Networks | PCWorld Business Center:

The makers of the mobile app Girls Around Me came under fire Monday for helping men to "stalk" unsuspecting women, but the incident also reveals how much we still have to learn about what social networks reveal about us.

The app collected data from FourSquare, showing local bars where women had checked in, and matched that with information from their Facebook profile, including photos and sometimes their dating status. The end result was that the app's users could see how many single women were in a particular nightspot, what they looked like and what their names were.