Weekend Reading, 11/19/11

With apologies for not posting any suggested reading last weekend, here a good list to make up for it. Be sure to check out the Robinson piece and the three essays reviewing recent books on what ails the academy. The video is pretty cool too

“Difference Engine: Luddite Legacy” at The Economist technology blog, “Babbit”: The title is not much help in this case. The post examines the possibility that what has been known as the Luddite Fallacy, that increased automation leads to fewer jobs, may no longer be so fallacious. It suggests that the stubbornly high rate of unemployment might be owed to the increasing number of white collar jobs that can be done by computers running AI. The post ends in rather hopeful fashion, but the compelling case made throughout seemed to me to make the hope rather like wishful thinking.

“Engineering the 10,000-Year Clock” by David Kushner at Spectrum: Great story about how two engineers with the backing of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos set out to design and build a clock that would run on its own power for 10,000 years. When it is completed, it will certainly count as a marvel of engineering. They’re goal? To get us to thinking more long term. No argument here.

“Teens, Kindness, and Cruelty on Social Network Sites” by Pew Internet and American Life Project: Title tells you all you need to know. Information on adults as well. The link takes you to the summary of findings.

“King James Bible” by Adam Nicolson in National Geographic: Explores the global legacy of the King James translation from Westminster Abbey to an American rodeo to Jamaican Rastafarians. Well done, with a lovely photo gallery as you would expect from National Geographic.

Three important reviews of recent books on education, they are each worth your time if you are at all interested in education:

“The Educational Lottery” by Steven Brint in the Los Angles Review of Books

“Out Universities: Why are they failing?” by Anthony Grafton in the New York Review of Books

“Can Teaching Really Matter?” by Peter Lawler

“Night Thoughts of a Baffled Humanist” by Marilynne Robinson at The Nation: I linked this in my post yesterday, but I wanted to put in your way one more time. It is a piece worthy of your consideration.

“Brain Scan Overload” by Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal: Lehrer cautions, wisely it seems to me, against grounding too much speculative stock in brain imaging.

Finally, here is a video you’ll want to take a look at if you haven’t already seen it or one like it. Three dimensional copying. Ink + Light = 3D object: “2D Patterns Self Assemble Into 3D Objects” courtesy of Wired UK.

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