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 games is just the first step on a path that leads to even more anti-social behavior.
  • Friend-of-ProfHacker Jennifer Howard has a great, if depressing, roundup of books on cybercrime, digital privacy, and more in the TLS: How much privacy are we willing to give up to reap the benefits of a networked world? To live digitally is a more complex and ambivalent process than any of these books captures, and there are risks that the authors do not acknowledge – for instance, how to archive and access the public data and cultural knowledge being created in quantities never seen before. At this moment in our digital evolution, though, what worries me most is whether we can find the collective will and the technological capacity to reclaim the internet from those who use it to exploit, control and abuse, whether they are criminals, governments, or white supremacists.
  • Virginia Postrel has a great essay on textiles as technology”: More than we realise, we residents of the 21st century simply assume that our clothing will resist wrinkles and stains, that it will stretch as we move, that it will hold its colour and its shape, and feel comfortable against our skin. The incremental innovations that make hoodies breathable or extend the life of upholstery cushions are invisible. They don’t grab public attention the way nylon stockings did. A state-of-the-art raincoat, dress shirt or pair of tights would amaze someone transported from 1939, but nowadays we just expect it to work.
  • Some days it seems like everyone posts their thoughts to social media these days, rather than blogging. Doctor PMS explains why it’s wrong to think of blogging and social media as opposed:
    Blogging is essential for science outreach! It is one of the easiest ways for scientists to publish their science and make it available globally. It improves your writing skills. It is fun and can bring fulfillment to your life. It is your space, where you can share your research, your points of view about a specific subject, or simply vent.

  • Amy Parachnowitsch has a splendid post detailing the confessions of an unemployed academic: I didn’t do any Victorian science. Another daydream was that I might do a little experimenting like Darwin although I am not arrogant enough to think my science would equal his. But I thought I could do some more urban surveys in my city or putter around with some backyard science and I always liked how he involved his kids. I enjoy fieldwork when I do it but I didn’t choose to do any fieldwork this summer. For me it turns out that uncertainty makes it difficult to focus on independent studies like I could have done. I was too focused on getting the next gig, being pulled in multiple directions and feeling like I should also write up old data. Maybe if I was independently weathly it would have been different but I am not. I need a job.

In this week’s video, The Hold Steady and the So So Glos cover the Violent Femme’s “American Music”:

Bonus game rec! If you have an i-Device, do yourself a favor and give Really Bad Chess a try. It’s the board and pieces of chess, except every time you play, the pieces are laid out differently, and you get a different number of them. (For example, four knights! three rooks! 12 pawns!) And so each game is different, and surprisingly fun.

Photo “When It Exceeds Our Ability to Understand” by Flickr user Fred Mancosu / Creative Commons licensed BY-ND-2.0

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