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Weekend Reading: Nearly Back to School Edition

As the beginning of the semester rapidly approaches, the ProfHacker crew is busy polishing syllabi, hurriedly wrapping up summer research, and perhaps even taking some time to mentally recharge in preparation for students’ arrival. Here are some links selected with the new academic year in mind.

  • If you teach in the humanities (or perhaps even if you dont!) this “The Humanities Matter!” infographic from 4Humanities and the University College London Centre for Digital Humanities could make a lovely addition to your wall or office door. It’s big—I had it printed at full size and it spans most of the hallway wall just astride my office door‐and is sure to grab the attention of students and colleagues.

    One only needs to turn on the news to see that we need the skills and knowledge of the humanities in: understanding other cultures, being able to communicate effectively, realising the ramifications of history, and analysing human behaviour. The Humanities are more important to global society than ever.

  • Many of us will no doubt teach intro classes this semester. Over at Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik reports on recent research suggesting that students’ choices of major are deeply influenced by their intro professors. No pressure.

    Maybe it’s much more simple: Undergraduates are significantly more likely to major in a field if they have an inspiring and caring faculty member in their introduction to the field. And they are equally likely to write off a field based on a single negative experience with a professor.

    No pressure.

  • One of my earliest ProfHacker posts was “How to Start Tweeting (and Why You Might Want To)”, in which I laid out how I use Twitter in my professional life. I wish I’d known then Howard Rheingold’s reflection on “Twitter Literacy (I refuse to make up a Twittery name for it),” a valuable post that holds up well as an intro to the platform’s dynamics. If you’re on the fence about tweeting, Rheingold might convince you to give it a(nother) shot.

    I still hang out on Twitter (I am found there as @hrheingold), but it’s clear that many of the people I talk to about it just don’t get why anyone wastes their time doing anything with the name “tweeting.”So I tell them that to me, successful use of Twitter comes down to tuning and feeding. And by successful, I mean that I gain value – useful information, answers to questions, new friends and colleagues – and that the people who follow me gain value in the form of entertainment, useful information, and some kind of ongoing relationship with me.
    To oversimplify, I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.

  • With the new semester will no doubt come a bevy of new memes devised by clever students (and maybe even clever profs). Jessica Love’s “The Internet is a James Joyce Novel” is an engaging look at the grammar of image macro memes online.

    The image macro is undeniably a playful medium, chock-full of cats and movie heroes and 1980s song lyrics. Typically, a series of image macros is built around either a common catchphrase (in which case the “game” involves scouring the Internet for appropriate images) or a common image (where the goal is to invent a suitable caption).
    As with most games, there are rules. Some image macros—those built around the sarcastic catchphrase Cool Story, Bro come immediately to mind—should only be posted in specific contexts, such as in response to a previous contribution that was overly long and personal.

  • Do you need some filler text to help you tweak a class website? Why rely on faux Latin when you can use faux hipster instead? There’s a hint of found poetry to some of these, which makes them extra fun. Also, I liked Hipster Ipsum before it sold out by playing ProfHacker.

    Disrupt tote bag tumblr before they sold out mixtape. Banh mi Schlitz cray tote bag try-hard umami tofu, helvetica food truck before they sold out keytar fanny pack kogi. Gluten-free skateboard hella readymade quinoa ennui locavore, ethical DIY roof party. Chambray kitsch lo-fi kogi street art, photo booth roof party McSweeney’s quinoa Truffaut mustache cornhole vinyl. Single-origin coffee street art butcher wayfarers pork belly retro. Street art blog selfies fashion axe tumblr. McSweeney’s trust fund Neutra, fashion axe cray viral craft beer kale chips squid Odd Future sartorial Cosby sweater selfies asymmetrical narwhal.

Finally, this week’s video is especially for readers with kids—and in particular for readers with girls.

Sylvia is an 11-year-old maker who shows kids (and adults) how to build fantastic things using Arduino kits and other materials. Her incredible energy and curiosity are certainly infectious. I’m hoping to attempt some of her builds with my daughters this year.

[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Alex Starr.]

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