All posts by Jason B. Jones


Weekend Reading: Almost Home Edition

a dog playing in water

If you’re teaching on the semester system, there’s a pretty good chance you’re in its dying embers, so I will get out of your way and usher you directly on to this weekend’s links!

  • Preventing cheating in multiplayer video games turns out to be around as challenging as preventing plagiarism: Given that cheating is surprisingly widespread, and to many, perfectly acceptable, an entire culture of self-entitled habitual video game cheaters has sprung up. In these social circles, cheating at video g…

Securing Your Data

locked door

William Gibson has a lovely meditation on privacy, encryption, and history in the New York Times, as he considers the necessary difficulty of linking these terms:

In the short term, the span of a lifetime, many of us would argue for privacy, and therefore against transparency. But history, the long term, is transparency; it is the absence of secrets. So we are quite merciless, as historians, when it comes to the secrets of the past, the secrets of the dead. We come to know them with an intimac…


Alphabetizing Books Quickly: QuickSort, Insertion Sort, and Bubble Sort

piles of books

Sometimes, the video that would’ve been helpful for you arrives right after you’ve completed a task. Over the past few months, I’ve been gradually relocating my books from my basement at home to my office at work, thus symbolically completing a move that’s now 3+ years old. Once I got them all to work, they were piled on my shelves, and so I needed to quickly sort them.

Shortly after finally getting them all organized, I discovered that Chand John and Anton Trofimov have a video (via Open Cul…


Getting More Done with Emoji

worried raccoon

One of the great paradoxes of the communication tools that are designed to help folks work together is how poorly they scale: what seems like a convenient way to share information quickly turns into an avalanche of messages that one feels compelled to keep up-to-date with.

Over the past year or so, Lee, Maha, and I have written several times about the various ways we use or teach with Slack, a modern platform for communications that can often feel more or less like a modern ICQ chat environment…


Help Defray Scott Eric Kaufman’s Medical Bills

batman coffee
For almost as long as there have been widely-read academic blogs, Scott Eric Kaufman’s has been a vital, funny, brilliant voice on it. For those of us who have been blogging for 10 years or more, it’s almost certain that you’ve run across him online, and probably come away better for it. And even though he’s long since left higher ed, he will always be an important part of our community.

As some of you may know, Scott is currently facing a profound health crisis, with multiple organ failures, a…


Resisting Surveillance

graffiti of a surveillance camera

There are many reasons to start paying increased attention to security and privacy, especially in light of the election. Heck, just today Russian hackers launched a phishing attack at NGOs and policy think tanks, using “purpose-built Gmail accounts and what may be a compromised e-mail account from Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Science.” In addition to NGOs and think tanks, “another wave of similar e-mails targeted universities” last month. So protecting yourself online is probably a …


Yeah, Maybe Not Today

The whiteboard in George's office

It’s a pretty weird day in most of American higher ed, I think, and no amount of “heyyyyyy . . . look at this new web service / app / grading strategy!” is likely to make it better. I don’t think there’s any great advice for situations where at least some students fear for their lives, others are stunned and grieving, and others are pretty happy. (Maybe support the first two, especially? Seems decent.)

It’s ok to take care of those who need it today, including perhaps yourself. And if you are d…


Toward a Better Conference Badge

We’ve regularly written about conferences and ways to improve one’s experience at them, but, as far as I can tell, we’ve never written about their most common feature: name tags or badges, the little bits of paper or plastic that let conference attendees figure out who they should try to talk to, and who they can safely ignore. Or, I guess, that let event staff figure out who should be allowed to peruse vendor booths, or sneak some cheese and crackers.

Conferences can be a great way to make con…


Simple Guidelines for Speaking at Conferences

a man setting up a microphone

Academics ought to be great at public speaking, or at the very least pretty comfortable with it, but it doesn’t often seem that way. While I’m sure everyone who reads this can think of some presenters they admire (hi, Bethany), it’s probably also easy to conjure up images of suboptimal lectures or conference presentations one’s seen over the years.

And we’ve certainly written about speaking tips quite a bit: Heather has suggested recording oneself speaking (for practice), and Natalie has affirm…


Procedures for Creativity: How to Use the Tarot


So I never really thought I’d write a post about tarot cards, but The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life comes with a fascinating proposition: Just as writers and artists have used the tarot, or variations of it, for centuries as part of their creative process, so too can any writer use it as a way to gain insight into how to write more productively.

One reason The Creative Tarot is so interesting–interesting enough that I spent my own money on it, and didn’t work from a review…