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Weekend Reading: Service Edition

Storm on CampusRandy Martin’s Under New Management: Universities, Administrative Labor, and the Professional Turn is noteworthy in part for offering a sort of qualified optimism (Michael Brown calls it a slightly less pessimistic take) about the explosion in administrative work in higher education.

I was struck, though, in this interview with Inside Higher Ed’s Serena Golden, by Martin’s defense of service:

Devaluing service not only makes it easier to take for granted all these jobs that allow campuses to operate, but also takes attention away from the increasing administrative work that faculty are asked to do and the growing purview of decision-making claimed by senior administrators — whose own work is becoming more generously compensated.

This is an argument that’s close to my heart: Service work, done well, is the work of academic governance, and can make a real difference in one’s working conditions. Taking it more seriously is hard to do, because it’s not recognized appropriately in promotion and tenure discussions, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Far from it!

On to this week’s links:

  • Jean Bauer, the new Digital Humanities librarian at Brown, has a post reflecting on her first month in an alt-academic job: Honestly, one of the biggest changes is simply having a 9-5 job. I was certainly busy at the University of Virginia, but I worked from home and set my own schedule. I’m enjoying having an office and a place where I can focus my energies, but when I get home I’m basically wiped.
  • Matt Wall writes “in praise of hacking”: My suggestion for people who want to learn more about computers is simply to play – dig into the settings of your OS (control panel in Windows, and Settings in OSX), see what options are in each section, change a few, see how you like it. . . . The important point is to approach it with a spirit of experimentation and don’t be scared of just mucking around.
  • JJ Cohen exposes “the darker side of blogging”: blogs and other internet forums require vast amounts of unrewarded labor, expose you to what is worst in your fellow humans, and destroy your equanimity. (Also see Tim Burke’s response, “Digital Calluses and Tender Hands.”)
  • Melanie Booth considers “Assessment as an Act of Care”: And one way we can show that we care about their learning is assessment.. . . I care about my students, and I care about what they learn; therefore, I assess my students’ learning. I care about my students in my courses; therefore, I assess my courses. I care about my students throughout the course of my program; therefore, I assess my program. I care about our students and their learning in my institution; therefore, I work with my colleagues to engage in assessment at the institutional-level.
  • I suspect most ProfHacker readers are rightly skeptical of the idea of “Digital Natives.” At First Monday, David S. White and Alison Le Cornu propose an alternate typology, of “visitors and residents”: Both ‘place’ and ‘tool’ have the capacity to incorporate motivation. Questions such as: ‘What am I going there for?’, ‘What am I hoping to achieve?’, ‘Which place best serves my purpose?’, ‘How long do I intend to stay?’, ‘Have I got the skills that I need?’ and ‘Am I happy to be on my own, or would I prefer to be in company?’ all fit within the Visitors and Residents paradigm and transcend issues such as age, technological ‘geekishness’, and the development of the brain. . .

Louis CK’s remarks in honor of George Carlin are really about making things (probably goes without saying, given the people involved, but there are what my 8-year-old calls swears in the video):

Have a great weekend!

Photo by Flickr user holia / Creative Commons licensed

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