Archive for the ‘News’ Category

brain death

Posted: May 7, 2012 in Academy, Brains, News, Research, Teaching

Analysis of a field test of new instruments for measuring electrodermal activity reveals flatlining student brain activity during lectures and classes on par with watching TV.

Via Lisa Wade @ Sociological Images and Joi Ito, & Boing Boing.


Students brains flatlining during classes


The “zombified” US Research Works Act was dropped this week following a boycott and protest of Elsevier, one of the major sponsors of the bill and a campaign contributor to the acts’ sponsor, Carolyn Maloney. Maloney and Elsevier are attempting to circumvent the 2008 changes to the US National Institutes of Health which ensures all research funded by its grants are freely available to the public.

Gamifying Plagiarism

Posted: November 11, 2011 in News

The developers of Turnitin, iParadigms, have gamified (and further zombified) plagiarism, with a new service called WriteCheck for students to check their assessments against the Turnitin database for $7US a piece.

Pirates versus Zombies

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Academy, News, Politics

Pirates are way cooler than ninjas (as the meme goes), but are they greater than zombies?

In the pirate corner is Aaron Swartz, a blogger, programmer and activist, currently the director of the political lobby group Demand Progress, ( Swartz, described as a “respected Harvard researcher” and “Internet folk hero” by the New York times, was charged with computer fraud last week in Boston. He is accused of unlawfully downloading millions of documents from JSTOR (who represent our zombies), one of the largest online databases housing articles from hundreds of academic publishers.

At 24 years of age Swartz is a controversial figure, he has worked with some of the most interesting datamancers and legal luminaries of the information age, including Tim Berners-Lee at MIT, and Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons Foundation and has worked on the software architecture of the Open Library project at the Internet Archive. He help co-author the RSS 1.0 standard at age 14, and was involved with a social news site that enables user ‘upvote’ and ‘downvote’ content. Swartz provided programming for the site when his start up merged with the site’s was ‘founders’ Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, in 2006, and he was fired soon after Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired Reddit in 2006.

This is a long term battle for Swarz, he wrote the ‘Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto’ in 2008, and is accused of downloading the JSTOR files in 2009.

News of Swartz’s indictment has recruited new pirates to the battle, most notably self-described ‘scientist hobbyist’, Greg Maxwell who published a torrent file earlier this week on The Pirate Bay. Maxwell has seeded a massive collection of academic publications (more than 30 gigabytes of data) from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society published before 1923 ( and therefore technically in the public domain) with a manifesto of his own that is worth a read.

The zombies definitely have the legal, if the not the ethical high ground, but the pirates have opened up with a massive broadside.

So, the Rapture should be good this evening:

We’re not talking about a ball game, or a marriage, or graduating from college. We’re talking about the end of the world, a matter of being eternally dead, or being eternally alive, and it’s all coming to a head right now.

But don’t get too excited. For most of us lost souls, this is just the beginning of the end.  According to, there’s actually still another five months of the End of Days to go: “anarchy, chaos, disasters, and the end of civilization as we know it”. There will be an earthquake

so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God. On the other hand the bodies of all unsaved people will be thrown out upon the ground to be shamed. The inhabitants who survive this terrible earthquake will exist in a world of horror and chaos beyond description

More here and still time to buy the T-shirt.

The growth of the contingent academic workforce brings the labor economics of the call center and the Wal-Mart store to higher education.

A few zombie highlights this week, first is the article ‘Dead Man Walking: What Do Zombies Mean?’ by Mark Dery at True/Slant. I don’t know how I missed this article last year, but it is worth a read, if only for the description of  the zombies as “a polyvalent revenant, a bloating signifier”. I want that on a t-shirt.

Next up is a how to identify your “mutant zombie democracy” comic over at Crickey, personally I like the Theocracy, he seems like a nice guy.

Finally, and not to be missed, is the Whirlpool forum discussion page of Whelan and Gora’s article, Invasion of aca-zombies. Some really interesting comments and well thought out discussion points that oddly seems to devolve into a debate about law degrees.