Posts filed under: media literacy

Jon Stewart’s final episode as host of The Daily Show aired this past Thursday, and I spent a bit of my browse time this week reading all of the thinkpieces that heralded and/or accompanied his final appearance. I discovered that he had changed American politics forever, that he hadn’t changed it enough, that he’d variously used his powers for good, for evil, for opiate, and for naught. He was too much of a tool for the White House; he was not enough of a tool for the White House. He was incisive, provocative, palliative, smug, and so on, and so on.

The one thing I noticed, though, was that most of these pieces focused on the effect that Stewart’s version of TDS had either on the political landscape in this country, or on the media coverage of such. I thought I’d take a different tack, and suggest that his retirement (as well as Stephen Colbert’s late last year) leaves a large hole that Larry Wilmore and John Oliver don’t appear to be filling. Whether Trevor Noah will do so remains to be seen. Let me describe this hole in the form of a list:

Paul Farmer. Toni Morrison. Steven Johnson. Jill Lepore. Michael Lewis. William Deresiewicz. Naomi Klein. Randall Munroe. Doris Kearns Goodwin. Steven Wise. Ta-Nehisi Coates. Thomas Piketty. Edward O. Wilson. Jane Goodall. Nate Silver. David McCullough. Sarah Vowell. Reza Aslan. Fareed Zakaria. Tavis Smiley. Jon Ronson. Cass Sunstein. Steven Brill. (pulled from the Daily Show Booklist and the

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It’s time for one of those posts where a few different ideas have coalesced into something for me. It’s been a while since I’ve written here–I’d originally intended to post an angry rejoinder to Steven Pinker’s infotisement in the Chronicle, but in the process of writing it, I managed to get him out of my system. There’s still some material there that I want to post, but it’s not what I’ve been thinking about lately.

The first thread I want to collect comes from several weeks back, an essay that I happened across, probably on Facebook. Dorothy Kim, over at Model View Culture, has a great piece about the ethics of social media research, particularly (but not exclusively) when it comes to questions of race. Kim draws provocative connections between recent research and “[t]he scientific and academic history of disregarding rights and ethics in relation to the bodies of minorities and especially women of color,” connections that cannot simply be waved away with recourse to the assumption that “Twitter is public.” I strongly recommend Kim’s essay–to be honest, I began reading it defensively, because as someone who doesn’t do a lot of qualitative or experimental research, my understanding of the public nature of Twitter was pretty uninformed. I’m not going to summarize her essay fully here, because I want to connect it to a couple of other things here, but Kim persuaded me to take another look at my assumptions.

Kim’s argument relies on what I still find …

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Yesterday, there was a minor squall that swept quickly across my Twitterological system. One of the departments in my field that maintains its own, somewhat official Twitter account trumpeted the names and schools of the finalists for a senior search in their department. I do have a screen shot of the tweet, but figured that I’d have to redact so completely that there wasn’t a lot of point in sharing it here. But it read:

Delight! Our job search found exceptional candidates: [candidate1]- [school1], [candidate2]- [school2], [candidate3]- [school3]. Job talks coming up!

The post has since been removed, appropriately, but not before it was linked and critiqued by some folk with pretty substantial numbers in terms of followers. I don’t want to name, shame, or blame here; rather, my point is a broader one about social media and the search process, and why folks reacted so strongly and so negatively to what was in all likelihood a genuine expression of excitement and appreciation.

I think that many of us often assume that everyone in a department will know where to draw the lines when it comes to social media. And yet, the landscape changes fast enough that we don’t always have time to think about how they might interact with what may be tried-and-true procedures when it comes to things like job searches, which are not exactly everyday occurrences, particularly in the humanities. And the intricacies of the search process can be opaque, for anyone who hasn’t experienced it from …

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a little comic about the AHA embargo fiasco

a little comic about the AHA embargo fiasco

I am not an historian, nor a member of AHA, nor an early-stage scholar, nor a publisher, nor am I responsible for library acquisitions. But then, the same can be said of plenty of folk who have weighed in on the decision by the American Historical Association to release a statement allowing for (and by implication, perhaps, endorsing) the “embargo” of history dissertations. As Rick Anderson notes (in a Scholarly Kitchen post that provides a pretty strong overview), the AHA “smack[ed] the hornet’s nest.” I follow enough Digital Humanities and Open Access inclined historians on Twitter that this statement, and the furor that ensued, registered substantially throughout my feed. And over the past week or so, the discussion has trickled upwards to the usual suspects (and beyond!) and sideways to other disciplines. At least it has to my own, based on listserv discussions and retweets.

And it should spread, because it’s not just an issue for historians. Times for university presses and for academic libraries are tough all over, and that affects every discipline. As someone who routinely advises late-stage graduate students and untenured faculty, I think that the questions raised by the AHA statement are ones that everyone in the humanities should be thinking about, not just members of that particular organization. For a good cross-section of the various positions and issues, my best recommendation is Open History, a project that began as part of the backlash against the …

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I finally got around yesterday to spending some quality time with Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble, and I’m sure that I’ll be using at least parts of it in the digital literacies course that I’m scheduled to teach in the fall. There are plenty of reviews out there, so I don’t feel any real need to offer an extended read of the book. If you’re like me, though, you tend to flag tech books, and add them to the “when I have time” pile. I’m glad that Pariser’s book made it to the top of that pile for me; it’s a book that really speaks to issues of privacy, personalization, and the “next wave” on the Internet. It’s unusual for a pop book to have a significant impact on the academic work that I do, but this book might, depending on how I eventually take it up.

I mention it here today because I was reading it today at the same time that a piece over Gawker came across my radar, “Just because you don’t like a study doesn’t mean it is wrong,” an unfortunately titled essay about a problem that I think more and more academics will begin to encounter, especially as access to academic work is opened up. The study, “Women (Not) Watching Women: Leisure Time, Television, and Implications for Televised Coverage of Women’s Sports.” appeared in the journal Communication, Culture and Critique, and was picked up by a number of mainstream …

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