Call it credentials inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.
“Several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,” Dr. Stewart says. The sheen has come, in part, because the degrees are newly specific and utilitarian. These are not your general master’s in policy or administration. Even the M.B.A., observed one business school dean, “is kind of too broad in the current environment.” Now, you have the M.S. in supply chain management, and in managing mission-driven organizations. There’s an M.S. in skeletal and dental bioarchaeology, and an M.A. in learning and thinking.
This article is making the rounds, as all articles like it will always do. It kind of pains me that this kind of story exists. This article is going to look stupid in a few years the same way an article from earlier this century would look stupid that touts “High School Diplomas As The New Grade School Education.” Also worth noting is the demographic bias of the New York Times editorial staff: in 2009, under 8% of the over-25 population had masters degrees. This shift is happening, but way more slowly than this story seems to suggest, and also not remarkably.
“Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data, or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim, whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”—
That is simple-minded and maybe not too helpful. BUT: it’s important to remember that no one wants to prove that stealing is ok. Both sides think stealing is wrong. Using a computer command to take documents and give them away can be stealing! No one is arguing that taking documents is NEVER stealing. Both sides share a lot of common ground!
We’ll see what this means in the long run, but the main difficulty here is that Anonymous is less like an array of dominos and more like crabgrass: knocking one bit out has little to no impact on the rest, since most of the rest just plain don’t care.
“Investigators have shown themselves, again and again, to be remarkably adaptable when faced with new technology. And absent a major (and unforeseen) breakthrough in computer security, technology will remain, for good or evil, increasingly on the side of the eavesdropper.”—
A great article about the interplay between government wiretapping and cryptography. The basic leaping off point here is that, despite fears by the government, the widespread availability of encryption has not negatively impacted law enforcement’s ability to get the job done. I love a story that encourages skepticism for claims about how some technology or another is ruining society. Technology has always been developing, and every generation thinks that theirs will be the one in which our technology finally destroys us.
Chin up: claims like that have been wrong 100% of the time before.
“To summarize, peer review is costly (in terms of time and money), random (the correlation in perceived “publishability” of a paper between two groups of reviewers is little better than zero), ineffective at detecting errors, biased towards established groups and against originality, and sometimes abused (in that reviewers can steal ideas from papers they review or block the publication of competitors).”—Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals? « Genomes Unzipped. Some pretty good ideas here. Certainly a nice place to start the discussion. But a real discussion about why we even WANT scientific journals needs to happen. (Meaning: are these journals just for disseminating current scientific research events? Or are we hoping for a reputable, official compendium of scientific consensus? Or is it just a way to catalog scientific research for future research? It’s certainly more complex than just one of these options.)
The troubling thing about this is that people will now just not update their phones, instead choosing to run an older version to keep a functionality that they like. That means that Verizon has created a precedent that their updates are not necessarily for your own good, something that puts a minor kink in the whole model of constantly-updating software: if you don’t trust each version to be better for you, why would you pay a premium for a plan that includes subsequent versions?
Someone Should Figure This Out 3: The Multiple Music Markets
Many people, when they talk about music sales and regulating music and piracy, will say that labels should do this or artists should do that. They have blanket advice for all parties concerned with music sales. But doesn’t this ignore the problem that Justin Bieber isn’t really competing with a local band that plays shows around Columbus, OH?
It seems to me that there are very obviously a few different markets in the world of music sales. In the world of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga and those other “powerhouses” of pop sales, aren’t those artists trying to get you to buy something completely different than the musicians in the world of the Dirty Projectors and Balam Acab?
It is obviously a dangerous and stupid oversimplification to say that the latter group is more concerned with artistic expression than the former. But is there any accuracy to that? Obviously Gaga is trying to do something artistic and surprising, but she’s also trying to dominate a scene. The two are not mutually exclusive, but it kind of matters which one would prevail in a decision between the two.
More directly: starting a blog post directed at musicians with the phrase “if you want to attract more fans, then…” is, superficially, safe, because any artist wants to reach people. But some artists don’t want to change their behavior to reach people; they want their behavior to attract people to the genuinely interesting thing they are doing.
I don’t know. It’s hard to excise value judgments from questions like this. But there has to be a way of quantifying and defining the goals of the different strata of the music-sales world. Balam Acab has no desire to be played in elevators, and Bieber has no desire to please Pitchfork. Can’t we break those desires down with any clarity?
“Who owns your experience? An artist in 1970 did. It was hand crafted, from studio to wax and beyond. They knew that given all possible modes of experience, in the end it came down to a needle on the record.”—
The idea that the thing we value is the experience of music is almost obviously correct. But the article relies on some flawed assumptions.
For instance, it seems to forget that some artists in the 70s were pretty blase about their “art,” just saw it as a way to become famous and get access to drugs. In the 70s, it WAS easier to control the user experience, but that doesn’t mean that artists exercised that control. Often, studios did.
And that’s important: remember that music is always about how it is consumed, not how it is presented. So for instance, dance music is consumed while dancing, while other forms of music are consumed while focusing on them, and still others are consumed in the background of a WalMart. Artists STILL have a lot of control over how you receive their product, but they have never had, and will never have, control over how you consume it.
The bottom line is that it is a flawed presumption that all musicians are aiming for artistic vision. Many artists are aiming for being famous, for exposure. It’s totally possible that the biggest-selling musicians are in it solely for the sales, not the art. To equate desire for musical success with artistic vision is not an obvious equation.
All that said, the idea that the focus should be on the conduit that transforms your bits into audio is pretty genius, and generally, this article gets a lot right.
“A level playing field doesn’t mean much if you don’t know the rules or have the right sporting equipment. Uploading a million documents to the Internet doesn’t help people who don’t know how to sift through them. Michael Gurstein, a community informatics expert in Vancouver, British Columbia, has dubbed this problem the data divide. Indeed, a recent study on the use of open government data in Great Britain points out that most of the people using the information are already data sophisticates. The less sophisticated often don’t even know it’s there.”—
Why Open Data Alone Is Not Enough | Magazine (via infoneer-pulse). This is also the main problem with the so-called “Freedom of Information Act.” There are these massive dumps of data that come from requests, and most of them will just be the same document with a different number at the top. Extracting something useful is often quite difficult.
Also: that’s part of why LulzSec is so dangerous: they know this, so they’ll often provide very specific data that can be used immediately to do some real damage.
“As many legal scholars have noted, however, this allows constitutional privacy safeguards to be circumvented via a clever two-step process. Step one: The government forces private businesses (ideally the kind a citizen in the modern world can’t easily avoid dealing with) to collect and store certain kinds of information about everyone—anyone might turn out to be a criminal, after all. No Fourth Amendment issue there, because it’s not the government gathering it! Step two: The government gets a subpoena or court order to obtain that information, quite possibly without your knowledge. No Fourth Amendment problem here either, according to the Supreme Court, because now they’re just getting a corporation’s business records, not your private records. It makes no difference that they’re only keeping those records because the government said they had to.”—
The article itself is pretty interesting, since so-called “graduated response” plans have been debated and proposed in international copyright agreements before. But this quote in particular is really rank, since it’s based off of studies of dubious origins. I read a lot of these studies in writing my paper on net neutrality, and they take a lot of liberties to arrive at these numbers (no surprise, I’m sure).
When you think about Dorothy’s slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” are they silver or ruby? How about the Wicked Witch … what color is she? What kind of dog is Toto?
Your answers to these questions are probably based on the 1939 MGM (now Warner Bros.) classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” and not the 1900 fairy tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” And unfortunately, this could mean trouble for Sam Raimi and James Franco’s new star-studded project, “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” according to a new ruling set by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
This seems like the right decision, considering how copyright works. What makes it a bad decision is merely the LENGTH of copyright protection. I intend to flesh this argument out in a real blog post soon…
“As long as a website’s address ends in .com or .net, if it is implicated in the spread of pirated US-made films, TV or other media it is a legitimate target to be closed down or targeted for prosecution, Barnett said.”—
Meaning that the U.S. has jurisdiction over any person who operates a suspicious site with a .com or .net domain. So, for instance, if an email provider said that they willingly give out your sensitive information to any government request for it, you’d just use a different email service. Well: be prepared to use new domain name services.
“The challenge is that consumers will continue to do whatever they wish on the Internet, and find clever ways to not attract the attention of the content companies or I.S.P.’s,” said Mr. Garland of BigChampagne, whose company has long traced the proliferation of file-sharing. “It will never end.”—To Slow Piracy, Internet Providers Ready Penalties | The New York Times (via nickpozek). This seems obvious!
Provenance is a key notion in relics and collectables. It establishes a chain of claims about previous ownership. Among believers and collectors there are often arguments about the particular provenance of a particular relic. But there is never a question about whether there really is a specialness in the artifact if its provenance is true. Collectors of manufactured items used by the famous believe that their manufactured piece — out of all the similar pieces — really does somehow contain or emanate the supernatural or mystical spirit of the famous. It is as if fame or greatness is contagious. The special power of the athlete, or movie star, or artist is transmitted through two degrees of contact.
But provenance itself does not explain why we assign any special meaning to the artifact, or to the clone. There is no non-magical reason why this clone is special just because a famous person touched it, or slept in it, or hit it. The pen used to sign the Declaration of Independence, or the guitar played Bob Dylan, or the ball hit by Barry Bonds, can only be really special if we assign these technological specimens supernatural magical contagious power.
Yet as we approach the tenth anniversary of the disasters of 9/11, there is an official campaign to assign supernatural potency to the remains of the World Trade Center. The twisted bits of steel salvaged from the site of the fallen towers are being treated as holy relics, taken on a long processions for public viewing, while the disaster site itself is being described as a “sacred place.”
I like this observation, that there isn’t that much difference between religious provenance and nostalgic provenance. Also, the idea of provenance creating value is very important in the intellectual property world. Not just in the simple “this is a real Monet” kind of way, but: if surrounding something with an idea adds value, then the idea itself is what has the value. Hence intellectual property treatment. And I’m always interested in how people assign actual value to ideas.
Many discussions of internet addiction, however, fail to discriminate between what the internet is being used for, despite over-use of the internet being associated with one or more specific types of problematic behaviour. In a study of mental health practitioners, adults seeking help for excessive use of the internet focused on excessive access of pornography or online communication related to infidelity, while issues of excessive use by young people focused chiefly on gaming… . the significant predictors of problematic usage appear to be low self-esteem, anxiety and the use of the internet for sensation-seeking activities that the user considers to be important… . some researchers maintain that internet addiction is not a true addiction, but may be the product of other existing disorders such as depression, or a ‘phase of life problem’… . some of the chief hazards of internet addiction (marital, academic and professional problems, together with sleep deprivation) might be the cause rather than the effect of excessive internet use.
“DVDs, CDs, and software in Brazil, Russia, Mexico, or South Africa, for example, are still priced at US and European levels, resulting in tiny legal markets accessible to only fractions of the population. Would you pay $136 for a Tron Legacy DVD (the relative price in Mexico, adjusted for local incomes)? How about a $7300 copy of Adobe’s Creative Suite? I didn’t think so.”—
Without just detailing every aspect of this story that I like, I’ll just say that it’s cool to see some online activity prove a better source for journalism than what was presumably a phone call to a source. The way that you get at a source is entirely unimportant compared to the usefulness of the source itself.
Though actually, wouldn’t it be awesome if this really were a “feature?” There is a game called One Chance, and the premise is that you don’t get to unmake your choices. How you allocate your time during the last few days before the world ends will determine whether you live or die, whether your family lives or dies, and whether you are happy. So it’s like real life. The one-shot premise used as artistic device.
Obviously, the use of the “one-shot” DRM here is terrible.