Weekend Reading: End of Classes Edition

a path through the parkHey, it’s the end of classes! I’m usually excited about this day’s arrival not through any fault of my students, but because it feels like it’s time to get my reorg boots and reboot for a new set of courses.

Good luck to everyone with the end of their academic terms, and especially with all the grading!

On to this week’s links . . .

  • Scott Weingard looks at collectively-generated knowledge about history and historiographical narrative traditions: I’m inclined to believe that historians need to move away from an almost purely narrative epistemology; keeping in sight that all historiographic knowledge is individually constructed, remaining aware that our overarching cultural knowledge of the past is socio-technically constructed, but not letting that cripple our efforts at coordinating research, at reaching for some larger consilience with the other historical research programs out there, like paleontology and cosmology and geology. Computational methodologies will pave the way for collaborative research both because they allow it, and because they require it.
  • Sara Davis explains “how mint became the default flavor of dental hygiene”: Mouths contain particular cells that that activate in the presence of hot or cold: the condition of extreme temperature “turns on” the cell, which then sends a message to the brain that the mouth is rather hot or rather cold. But menthol also “turns on” these cells, which send their message to the brain as directed, and we experience a coolness in the mouth that isn’t there.
  • John Brindle argue that text-based video games offer more complex or challenging representations of war than traditional first-person shooters: That sour, loaded word illustrates something else these games do with text: draw attention to their own artifice. To progress in Reed’s, game you have to recognise that everything you’re playing through is actually a representation made by specific people with their own motives, agendas and prejudices. The stories they tell you have just one answer, and only by understanding why they’re told can you find a way out of the game’s weird purgatory.
  • Dr. Drang explains what really bugs people about the Khan Academy: But every time I’ve watched a Khan Academy video on a topic I know something about, I’ve been disappointed.
    It’s not the rough-hewn nature of the videos—that makes them more personal, more accessible. No, it’s that they’re wrong. Sometimes they’re just factually wrong, with minor mistakes of the kind that are easy to make when teaching live but which shouldn’t be left in a permanent record. More often, though, they’re pedagogically wrong, taking an approach that won’t serve the student well.
  • Kirk Goldsberry uses “the Kobe assist” (what regular folks call “missed shots”) to illustrate the complexity of statistical analyses in dynamic situations: Basketball is a game of sequences. Unlike baseball or football, it is a relatively continuous free-flowing sport. The actions within a game are hard to separate because they are chronologically intertwined, and every event in every game is influenced in part by preceding sequences of actions. Every game is its own ecosystem characterized by teamwork, athleticism, and frequent episodes of magnificence.
  • Bonus sixth link for surviving the busy grading/holiday season: ““How to Hack Chipotle.”

In this week’s video, Maria Ross discusses her recovery from a severe brain aneurysm:

Have a great weekend!

Photo “a path thru the park” by Flickr user Per Ola Wiberg / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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