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Weekend Reading: Happy Halloween Edition

Spooky Moon

First, I wanted to link to some interesting follow-up posts from around the web, ones that shouldn’t get lost in the bulleted list. Last week, I linked to Mike O’Malley’s post on “Googling Peer Review“; ProfHacker’s own Kathleen Fitzpatrick responded on her own blog with a consideration of Google’s limits, and of the ways ostensibly freer, more open paradigms can inadvertently re-create their own in-groups.

And then, those interested in the problematics of IT & academic conferences, as raised by George’s and my Educause post, as well as Jon Voss’s account of organizing THATCamp Bay Area, will find Audrey Watters’s “Thoughts on THATCamp from an Academic Industry Outsider” absorbing.

Ok, on to the new links!

  • And speaking of peer review, here’s a new attempt to measure scholarly impact: Alt-metrics: A Manifesto: These new forms reflect and transmit scholarly impact: that dog-eared (but uncited) article that used to live on a shelf now lives in Mendeley, CiteULike, or Zotero–where we can see and count it. That hallway conversation about a recent finding has moved to blogs and social networks–now, we can listen in. The local genomics dataset has moved to an online repository–now, we can track it. This diverse group of activities forms a composite trace of impact far richer than any available before. We call the elements of this trace alt-metrics.
  • One way that colleges and universities are like cities is that the sheer density of bright people makes them more attractive: Passion is a magnet. People who want to develop their own talents by engaging more deeply with a community of people who share their interests will likely be increasingly drawn toward dense metropolitan areas. Communities of interest, so common on the Web, tend to evolve into tighter communities of practice in urban areas as people engage in sustained efforts to develop things together. The passion of a few tends to inspire and draw in others. The ability to sustain interactions in online environments amplifies face-to-face interactions and fuels the passion of a growing number of participants.
  • Sean Michael Ragan offers ten steps toward “The Care and Feeding of Ideas“:  [T]he more I read about and talk to other creative people, the more I come to believe that there are, in fact, some more-or-less universal principles of creativity. And while there will always be something mysterious in the workings of the muse, I do not subscribe to the common belief that creativity is a magical gift bestowed on some and not on others. Like drawing, doing algebra, or speaking a second language, having original ideas is a mental skill that can be developed, and with practice, can become second nature.
  • Jessa Crispin, in a smart essay on the “it gets better” response to bullying, offers a shrewd take on college students teenagers: Our culture still worships the adolescent, from the pop star to the sexy undead vampire. (And if vampires never age, that means those Twilighters are stuck with teenage brains for eternity. I want to stake myself in the heart just thinking about it.) Many adults confuse the teenager’s chaos for freedom and the evolving identity as exciting rather than terrifying. But the societal pressure to conform, and the parental pressure to be happy (in a pre-approved manner — parents don’t want their children to be happy in the unsafe ways the teeangers would like to be happy) and enjoy these best years drives even the well-adjusted and unconditionally loved to the brink.
  • Bryan Alexander has started a nifty series of posts on teaching with video games, esp. Minecraft: This combination of opacity and assumed work is familiar to most students, when they encounter a difficult or unfamiliar subject for the first time. In fact, academic learners and game players actually go through some similar processes. The secret of this blog post is that my example isn’t just about gaming, but learning in 2010.

This weekend, let’s be safe out there:

Bonus 1: “Re: Your Brains”.

Bonus 2: A guide to pronouncing key terms within geek culture.

Have a great weekend!

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