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September 1, 2013
The False Logic of Computationalism
Everything wrong with today's computing culture in two bullet points (maybe)
A premise: all the problems of computational solutionism can be expressed in terms of two fundamental misunderstandings of Turing: Simulation is not equivalence. A machine that acts like another changes that other and itself; it doesn't reproduce them. Machines aren't intelligent; rather they are persuasive. Thus, accepting or rejecting any ...
August 30, 2013
The Rudeness of Importance
Op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution
June 14, 2013
MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities (Part One)
A roundtable at the LA Review of Books
May 16, 2013
The Electronic Book, circa 1995
The past and future novelty of digital publishing
It's easy to forget these things, so here's the description for the electronic "hypertext edition" of rhetorician Richard Lanham's collection of essays, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. As Publishers Weekly wrote, "And, yes, the book is available in electronic form; as the first in the Chicago Expanded ...
May 14, 2013
The Walled Kindergarten
The inevitability of corporate content controls on MOOCs
Last week, the Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) president Robert Meister sent an open letter entitled "Can Venture Capital Deliver on the Promise of the Public University?" to MOOC provider Coursera's CEO, Daphne Koller. The CUCFA has published the letter, which is sly, scathing, and deeply entertaining ...
May 5, 2013
Work With Me on Tinkering Platforms
I need undergrads interested in electronics looking for summer work
Under the aegis of the Georgia Tech branch of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing, my PhD student Tom Jenkins and I have spent the year thinking about and making what we call "tinkering platforms"—those simple hardware prototyping systems like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and so forth. Our ...
April 1, 2013
Two Reviews of Alien Phenomenology
By Sandy Alexandre and Cameron Kunzelman
For those of you interested in such things, here are two interesting and (to me) very gratifying reviews of Alien Phenomenology. First, a review in Invisible Culture by Sandy Alexandre, which considers (among other things), how literary practice relates to carpentry. I'll let you read to her conclusion on that ...
March 16, 2013
A Brief History of Websites
1989 Any particle physicist can have a website! 1993 Any researcher can have a website! 1995 Anybody at a university can have a website! 1996 Any company can have a website! 1997 Anybody can have a crappy website! 2001 Anybody can have a decent website if it's a blog! ...
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 ...
January 16, 2013
Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online
With funding tight, the state of California has turned to Udacity to provide MOOCs for students enrolled in remedial courses. But what is lost when public education is privatized?
January 5, 2013
Educational Hucksterism
Or, MOOCs are not an Educational Technology
My colleague Mark Guzdial argues that MOOCs are a fundamental misperception of how learning works. In the post, Mark argues that MOOCs misconstrue educational practice, mistaking lectures and rote-exercises for the central activities of classes in higher education. Reading Mark's post I found myself reflecting on a seemingly unrelated article ...
December 3, 2012
A Machine That Makes Cameras: The Aesthetics of the Lytro
An image taken with a Lytro camera is not really an image, but a machine capable of producing many possible renditions.
November 28, 2012
Now Available: 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
You Can't Buy A Better Book About a One-Line BASIC Program At Twice The Price
My latest book is out! It's called 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 and it's about a one-line Commodore 64 BASIC program. I wrote it with nine other authors, but it's not an anthology; we write in a single voice collaboratively, producing a monograph-like text. You can buy it in ...
November 27, 2012
Wii Can't Go On, Wii'll Go On
What is Nintendo really attempting to do with the Wii U? From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
10 PRINT CHR$(205.5 + RND(1)); : GOTO 10

A whole book about a single line of code. By ten authors.

November 8, 2012
Opener Than Thou
On MOOCs and Openness
In his keynote at the recent Educase conference, Internet zealot Clay Shirky made the case that MOOCs are not provocative because they are massive, but because they are open—except they are not really that open. So, I'm no big fan of Shirky's fanatical obsession with Internet openness, but he's right ...
September 11, 2012
Real Networks Don't Have Leaders
September 11 and Distributed Networks
On September 11, 2001 I was supposed to meet with Rick Harshman, an Akamai account executive, in my Los Angeles office. I only remember Rick's name eleven years later because it kept staring at me from my Outlook calendar that morning suggesting an alternate timeline. I can't remember why we ...
July 23, 2012
The Rhetoric of MOOCs
On massiveness, students, and flipped classrooms
The annual Computing Research Association conference is taking place this week at Snowbird in Utah, and one of today's plenaries is about online eduction and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Reading the description of the session, I noticed two common positions on MOOCs that I think are rhetorically effective yet ...
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 16, 2012
The Great Pretender
Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation