Weekend Reading: Who Won? Edition

Dog chewing on cleats

In our Little League, opening day is this weekend. We have our last pre-season practice tonight, and so last night we held a scrimmage against another team. Anyone who’s been around sports knows why you do this: To see how the team reacts against other comparable players, in a pseudo-game situation. You shouldn’t scrimmage all the time, because players need to work on their skills, but, at the same time, sometimes you need to see the reactions that only adrenaline can really provide. And so you scrimmage not just to do it, but to sharpen your next practice.

Even though we were playing on an open bit of park, and not a proper field, and even though no one was wearing uniforms–and even though lineups and batting orders were determined, in part, by a highly-sophisticated “who arrived at the field first” heuristic–the players only had one question at the end: Not, “how’d we play?,” of course, but–”Who won?”

Today, I had my composition students do an offbeat in-class exercise, one designed to try to help them think about visual choices in a graphic novel, and, again, there was only one question: “How will this be graded?” Which I think is, in effect, the “Who won?” of class time: It’s the wrong question, but it emerges almost habitually from the dynamics of our institutions (“competitive minors,” on the one hand, and American education, on the other). You wouldn’t want players who weren’t competitive *at all*, and, similarly, you wouldn’t want students who didn’t care about whether they were learning. The key, though, is to keep those attitudes as open-ended as possible, for as long as possible.

On to this week’s links!

  • Tona Hangen introduces her her students to radio in a historical methods course: It presents some interesting wrinkles in the methods course, because radio and sound recordings are not like other texts. They cannot be “skimmed” or highlighted like transcripts of documents; you “read” and “translate” them differently from visual texts; they rely on a sense that in many “digital natives” is not particularly well-honed. But the advantages are tremendous.
  • A UC-Berkeley graduate student unpacks the “myth of professionalization among graduate students”: Our lives as researchers-slash-teachers-on-an-unlivable-salary? This is it. There’s no magical job waiting for you once you finish your dissertation. But — and I say this knowing most, if not all of my fellow grad students would agree — this (our current work) is actually totally worth it if we can pay our rent, afford health insurance, and (if we want) raise children.
  • Bethany Nowviskie (and, via Storify, friends) examines the language around the digital humanities in her update of Freud’s notorious question, “What Do Girls Dig?”: And I have a hunch that it’s not just me — that the disconnect from certain brands of digital methods felt by many researchers of my ilk (note that ilk is not gender) has more to do with the language of methodological and research-findings descriptions, and the intellectual orientation of the people doing the describing, than with the nature of, say, data-mining itself.
  • Michel Aaij’s curatorial/editorial work and writing on Wikipedia contributed, in part, to his receiving tenure–which is interesting news, but the real thrust of the article is, “where does this online stuff count on a cv,’ which will be the focus on an upcoming PH post: Michel felt that his contributions to Wikipedia merited mention in his tenure portfolio; after all, his colleagues had come around about the resource academia traditionally frowns upon after seeing what he had done. He thought the “service” section would be the logical fit.
  • Matt Thompson has excellent suggestions for “How to work open”: The key question is: How does working in the open enable useful participation? How does it help us be more agile? How does it produce visible progress and momentum? How does it help us do good?

And, for this week’s video, Chris Chabris, author of The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, discusses everyday illusions:

Chris Chabris: When Intuition Fails from PopTech on Vimeo. (Via Daniel Simons.)

Photo of the puppy destroying the 7yo’s cleats by me. / Creative Commons licensed

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