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November 8, 2013
Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User
Feeling overwhelmed online? Maybe it's because you're working dozens of jobs
August 10, 2013
What You Can Get is What You Can Negotiate
Advice for negotiating academic jobs. And maybe others too.
Apropos of nothing, some advice for my academic friends who do or may have to negotiate a faculty position, either on the giving or receiving side. It probably applies well beyond academia, but I see the same disappointments year after year in the university. So much dissatisfaction among newly hired ...
May 1, 2013
Preview: Why Gamification Is Bullshit
From a longer article forthcoming in The Gameful World
My short essay Gamification is Bullshit was a very widely read provocation, but it was never meant to be a complex argument. I've finally written a longer, more detailed version of that argument in an article titled "Why Gamification Is Bullshit." It will appear in Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian ...
January 27, 2013
Two Billionaires on the University
Two conveniently juxtaposable views on universities today, from two billionaires. First, Michael Bloomberg made a $350 million commitment to his alma mater Johns Hopkins, which he credits with establishing his future as a leader. The contribution brings his total philanthropy to Johns Hopkins to $1.1 billion. In addition to funding ...
January 21, 2013
The Microethics of Informal University-Corporate Partnerships
What are universities giving away when we host hackathons, game jams, and the like?
Everyone knows that creativity and productivity are increasingly given away for free these days, particularly when it comes to technology products and services. For example: we contribute to the business of companies like Google and Facebook by giving them our data to resell, and we contribute to the business of ...
December 7, 2012
The McDonald's of Higher Ed
Nigel Thrift wrote a somewhat mind-bending article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed about the Cheesecake Factorization of higher education. You should read the whole thing, but here's a choice excerpt: What I think we will see is this same chain model gradually taking over higher education. There will still ...
November 5, 2012
Did you know, road trips are just gamified cars?
Gamification has reached such a fever pitch that its proponents have begun sounding like parodies of themselves. An amazing recent specimen is comes from Mashable, under the title "9 Strategies to Gamify Your Startup". The entire article is "worth reading," so to speak, but this one's my favorite: When people ...
July 25, 2012
Academia Still Isn't So Bad
On Terran Lane's "On Leaving Academia"
Over the last day or so, many of my Facebook friends have been posting UNM CS professor Terran Lane's reflections on leaving academia for a job at Google. It's worth a read, and raises some very valid points about the troubles with academia—pay, funding, job security, incentives, isolationism, work/life balance ...
July 18, 2012
MOOCs are Marketing
The question is, can they be more?
Earlier this week, Georgia Tech and eleven other higher education institutions announced their participation in Coursera, a company that hosts online courses. Reactions have been predictably dramatic, as exemplified by Jordan Weissman's panegyric in the Atlantic, titled The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education. I'll spare observations on the ...
July 18, 2012
Kickstarter: Crowdfunding Platform Or Reality Show?
It's QVC for the web generation, the new Thunderdome, Off Track Betting for ideas addicts. Whatever you call it, Kickstarter's becoming less about funding widgets than pouring gas on creative sparks just to watch them ignite.
July 10, 2012
Buying Hypothetical Products
Kickstarter is just another form of entertainment
Also: I expanded the ideas in this post into a short article for Fast Company, Kickstarter: Crowdfunding Platform Or Reality Show? The web is flipping out today over the OUYA, a hypothetical new videogame console posted today on Kickstarter. It promises "A New Kind of Video Game Console," but it's ...
June 21, 2012
Academia.edu Finders Fees
Is this ethical?
Yesterday I received the following email from Academia.edu, a social network for academics to share research papers. Hi Ian, We noticed that you are following the Computer Science research interest on Academia.edu. We wanted to mention that we are hiring software engineers at Academia.edu, and if you know any current ...
May 27, 2012
What should we do for a living?
Some comments on "The Facebook Illusion"
There's an interesting opinion column in today's New York Times by Ross Douthat, The Facebook Illusion. The gist of the article is that the Internet economy is not capable of producing the economic growth, prosperity, and support of previous economies. ...the problem is not that Facebook doesn't make money. It's ...
January 19, 2012
What is a Game Bundle?
From my Persuasive Games column at Gamasutra
September 24, 2011
Notes on Loyalty
Gamification and Operational Closure
Two seemingly unrelated things happened to me yesterday, which further reflection revealed to have surprising connections. First, I spoke on a panel at the Online News Association conference about games and news. Julia Schmalz (now of Bloomberg, formerly of USA Today) and Rajat Paharia (of gamification vendor Bunchball) were the ...
August 27, 2011
Cold, Grey Dirigibles
Brief thoughts on Steve Jobs's Resignation
Steve Jobs is a fascist. That's what everyone loves about him: he tells us what he wants, and he convinces us we are going to like it. And we do, not because he's right (despite popular opinion), but because it's so rare to get such definitive, brazen, top-down, abusive treatment ...
August 15, 2011
Variety in Videogames
On embracing videogame diversity and combatting exploitationware
In many of the reactions to Gamification is Bullshit, both in the comments on this site and in responses elsewhere, a common objection is raised. It goes something like, "you're just afraid of unfamiliar uses of games." Here's a particularly odious version of that argument, by Libe Goad on ZDNet ...
August 8, 2011
Gamification is Bullshit
My position statement at the Wharton Gamification Symposium
(Also available in Portuguese, Japanese, and reprinted at The Atlantic and Kotaku) In his short treatise On Bullshit, the moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt gives us a useful theory of bullshit. We normally think of bullshit as a synonym—albeit a somewhat vulgar one—for lies or deceit. But Frankfurt argues that bullshit ...
August 6, 2011
1,000,000 of Anything
On startups and small businesses
A recent article asks whether apps are just a feature, or if they are a business. Should individual creators or very small teams try to make a decent living from an app (a "lifestyle business") or should they raise venture capital and expand (a "startup"). The article cites Buffer, an ...
July 14, 2011
Netflix Didn't Kill the Video Store
On online video subscriptions
As you couldn't possibly have missed, Netflix announced changes to their subscription plans this week. Specifically, they separated streaming subscriptions from disc-based ones. It used to be possible to add DVD rental to a streaming subscription for $2 extra, but now you'll have to pay $7.99 more for a single-disc ...