Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Usefulness of Uselessness, Redux

Faculty who believe in the liberal arts approach and who think this means that there ought to be some kind of firewall between what students study and what they do in their careers or anything else in their lives after … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 10 Comments

Moore’s Law (Munitions Edition)

Let’s say twenty years ago I’d written a science fiction novel about how a futuristic nation has a massive force of flying robot bombs that are programmed with some target parameters and just fly around 24/7 on patrol looking for … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Generalist's Work, Politics | 21 Comments

The State of the Art III: Facebook (and 500px and Flickr) as a Window Into Social Media

III. The Business Model as Belief and Reality Why is Facebook such a repeatedly bad actor in its relationship to its users, constantly testing and probing for ways to quietly or secretly breach the privacy constraints that most of its … Continue reading

Posted in Cleaning Out the Augean Stables, Digital Humanities, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Intellectual Property | 3 Comments

The Slightly-More-Longue Duree

Historians and anthropologists studying sub-Saharan Africa are especially sensitive, for good reason, about linking current events on the continent to deep or precolonial histories. We’re all too intensely aware of the deep, sustained way that European colonialism represented African societies … Continue reading

Posted in Africa | 3 Comments


I don’t think there’s much more to say about Aaron Swartz. I didn’t know him personally but like many others I am a beneficiary of the work he did. And I have agreed for much of my life as an … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Intellectual Property | 6 Comments

Apres Le Perturbation

There are three ways to look at what’s happening right now to the economic and social viability of the professions and various kinds of cultural work. One is silly, one is depressing and one is ambiguous. Guess which I prefer? … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Humanities, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Intellectual Property | 4 Comments

Guns as Witchcraft

Over the holidays, after the shootings in Newtown, I was in a conversation on Facebook in which I reiterated my point from earlier in the year that in the United States, gun ownership and gun practices are culture, and as … Continue reading

Posted in Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 6 Comments