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The office hosting this blog is retiring some of its servers, including the one on which this blog resides. By mutual agreement, this will be the last post on the IDOS blog. It's been a good run.

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One way to create motivation to explore a topic more deeply is to make a public commitment to address a topic. Where this is high-risk is if one does not actually make the time to learn the topic well and there are people in the audience who are totally willing to call you on it (and there are always those).

If it were not for a double-booked conference, I would most certainly be having a discussion with an audience about ...

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Crediting Broadly or Not?

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In June, a library journal will publish a multi-page invited article that I wrote about future academic libraries and the needs that they would meet from the point-of-view of a long-time faculty member. I started work on this piece months ago when one of the marketing directors at a publishing house asked if I would write this.

What finally resulted was a piece that involved a brainstorm about the various academic library services of the future. I had one thread ...

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Least-Cost Software Options

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In daily work life, there is very much a real cost barrier which is prohibitive various computational work. While many business organizations have some open-source aspect, many of these endeavors are highly limited (and maybe tied more to marketing and public relations than to anything of core interest—as it probably generally should be). What this means though is that one is constantly trying to cobble together functionalities from a range of free tools (many of them created in university ...

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Having just roughed out reports linked to several surveys for in-house usage (and eventually some public acknowledgment), I realize how important it is to establish rules for objectivity in the analysis—so that I don’t slip into subjectivity (and potential political hot water). While rule-following is generally fairly boring, there is a lot to be said such care.

What are some of these rules that have applied to the work, and how are they helpful in staying true to ...

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Avoiding the Recycling of Work

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In some ways, the Internet’s features can force a kind of honesty that people would not have otherwise. The fact that many works are becoming digitized and flooding online means that it’s hard to leave a past behind. It’s hard to be the single voice if one wants to pose or create public performances online. It means that our more immature selves will be available in some digital format over time. It also means that works that ...

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Now in my second year of analyzing information technology satisfaction survey results (and immersing in my third year of such campus data), I am realizing that there are two main ways that information from such surveys can generally lead to change. By change, I mean gaining the attention of administrators who control the resources and personnel who can make the requested changes.

One main way to be heard is by being part of a crowd. This means that it helps ...

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Brainstorming and Creating Digital Flashcards

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Usually, when we think of flashcards, we think of learning requiring rote memorization, whether that would be the multiplication table or foreign languages (and various forms of memorization related to symbolic reasoning). Flash cards were seen to lighten the load for learning as a tool for cognitive scaffolding.

For online learning, digital flashcards may be brought into play as an opt-in tool for memorization and practice. They enable easy ways to refresh on terminology and ideas. They provide a sense ...

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The Broad Findability of Digital Contents

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It used to be that I would go searching for formal informational materials on a certain topic. I would start with Google Scholar to get a broad flavor of the materials available. I would look at the names of the publications to understand who the main publishers were for the topic. I would be happily downloading resources, and then by the second web page in, I would run up against a for-pay source.

For some of those, I would jot ...

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Non-linear Machine-Enhanced “Reading”

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Of late, I’ve just started experimenting in the world of text corpus analysis. As part of the current fascination with big data, and the wide availability with plenty of text of all sorts, researchers have been tapping into these various collections to extract meaning. The obsession with fast processing speeds (to promote computational efficiencies and near real-time situational awareness) has meant greatly speeded-up extractions of meanings through various types of text parsing—breaking up texts into meaning-laden words (semantics ...

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Avoiding Hurt Feelings in Review Work

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For someone outside the field, it may seem petty to suggest that protecting authors against hurt feelings should be a consideration. I’d rather argue that people generally have long memories, and they tend to be quite unforgiving if their feelings are hurt. For the sake of long-term interests both for the current project (and the small odds of collaboration on future projects)…but also for potential future productivity of the author, it’s a good idea to strive to ...

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Patrick Tucker, deputy editor of “The Futurist” magazine and director of communications for the World Future Society, has made it his business to connect with the leading thinkers of the day in order to glimpse the future. In “The Naked Future: What Happens in a World that Anticipates Your Every Move,” published in 2014, has a somewhat hyperbolic title, but the cases within make a coherent case a future in which people can no longer maintain the self-illusion of any ...

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The research-based observations in social physics do not just apply to small work teams and online communities. Dr. Alex Pentland’s “Social Physics” also describes some applications to macro-level societal issues and more intractable challenges.

Easing Broad-Scale Human Tensions

Pentland cites research about the risks of between-group violence if they are poorly socially integrated, “when one group can dominate the other, and, in addition, when the political or geographic boundaries fail to match demographic borders” (p. 76). Such awareness of ...

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Alex Pentland’s ”Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons from a New Science” (2014) suggests that the study of how people actually live in “living laboratories”—enabled by sensors, innovative technologies, and big data—may enable people to build more resilient and prosocial societies. In a sense, this book is a strong follow-on to the studies of social networks.

If research on social networks has been about how people form social bonds and maintain them over time and ...

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A Student Publication as a Digital Sandbox

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A recent university newsletter announced a new publication on campus. It is a formal open-access online journal dedicated to publishing the work of the undergraduate and graduate students of a particular college. The rationale was clear. The creators wanted to use the online platform as a way to encourage widespread awareness of professional publication. They wanted to use the web-accessible journal-publishing platform to train a range of skills in a supportive way. This would be a kind of scaffolding the ...

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Using Contact Lists Strategically

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Of late, I’ve been immersing a fair amount in network science—particularly electronic social network analysis and also network text analysis. In terms of SNA, the assertions are pretty clear—that in general—people tend to socialize homophilously and in clusters. They tend to bond with a limited number of people (well below the Dunbar number), and they tend to only have a few degrees of separation between one individual and another. People know people who know people. To ...

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After years of immersing in the work of academic research review and evaluation, it’s not so common that one is impressed. The status quo is the acceptance that there are real limits beyond where people cannot seem to progress, even if it’s their best interests to improve work. The limits come from formal (and informal) training, statistical analysis capabilities, technological and methodological capabilities, the workplace environment, and the limits of the individual (in terms of where he or ...

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Archiving a Digital Newsletter

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Sometime, I must have said yes to serving on the steering committee for a regional professional organization, but I’ve conveniently brushed aside how that might have happened. The work itself is actually quite minimal, and it will likely be so until some of our major events. That is, except for a few side projects here and there. One of the recent side projects involves the archival of the organization’s twice-yearly digital newsletter.

The Purpose of a Professional Community ...

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Usually, after the initial query about possible work, it doesn’t take more than a meeting or two to see what the potentials may be in a professional relationship. Usually, the first meetings involve a representation of self and capabilities and needs from the client side, and then there are the representations of self, capabilities, and constraints on the service provider (instructional designer) side. A recent situation brought some of the complex challenges to the fore.

Starting an Online Training ...

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A Motivating Sort of E-Textbook?

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After a national conference, what is telling is whether I’m interested in pursuing further contacts with various vendors, presenters, or attendees. The default is to not ask for a further presentation of a tool or to discuss possible collaboration. In other words, it takes a lot of motivation to get over the default state. People are busy, and they are not going to push for more information or work without good justification.

An Electronic Textbook Presentation

One presentation that ...