Monday, March 25, 2013

MoAR: bare-bones, this week.

this week's roundup is a bit sparse, without too much deep commentary. i guess i've been distracted, if not busy, with writing and editing a manuscript or two, and havne't had too much spare brainpower to ponder meaningful opinions to these things i've read.

MOOCs: yes's and no's, from the faculty.

i should stop posting article excerpts about this topic. the phenomenon is in full swing, but it's too early to conclude anything about it. for instance, there is no first generation of MOOC college "graduates" yet, so we don't know how stable the framework is.

it's also not clear to me if the objectives for MOOCs have been fully made clear and compatible to the public. as for the faculty, however ..
"John Owens was drawn to MOOCs because of their reach. He also did not want to be left behind... It does not take a programming expert to decrypt the writing on the wall: No matter where you teach, online education is coming. "I would rather understand this at the front end," said Mr. Owens, "than be forced into it on the back end."
As far as awarding formal credit is concerned, most professors do not think their MOOCs are ready for prime time. Asked if students who succeed in their MOOCs deserve to get course credit from their home institutions, 72 percent said no.

~ from "The Professors Who Make the MOOCs" @the_chronicle

beyond public key encryption.

well, if number theory can encrypt data, then i suppose that abstract algebra can improve things further ..
"The numbers in the file remain encrypted at all times, so Bob cannot learn anything about them. Nevertheless, he can run computer programs on the encrypted data, performing operations such as summation. The output of the programs is also encrypted; Bob can’t read it. But when he gives the results back to Alice, she can extract the answer with her decryption key.

The technique that makes this magic trick possible is called fully homomorphic encryption, or FHE. It’s not exactly a new idea, but for many years it was viewed as a fantasy that would never come true.

~ from "Alice and Bob in Cipherspace" @americanscientist

beyond the tenure track.

first, the excerpt ..
"Enter “Beyond Academia,” the first career conference at the University of California, Berkeley, organized solely by Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows, an unlikely group for a non-academic job fair. The sold-out event — to be held in Berkeley this Friday, March 22 — is a quiet revolution if one considers the investment of time and money that goes into grooming a grad student for a tenure-track position.

“There are Ph.D. students who feel they can’t come out and say they want to leave academia, they’re too afraid,” said Els van der Helm, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in psychology and lead organizer of the conference. “This will give them a chance to explore other options. We have to start a conversation about this because academia is not for everyone.”

~ from "Ph.D. students rethink the tenure track, scope out non-academic jobs" @newscenter.berkeley
and now, a few comments: academia is self-selective. the faculty that one meets during one's ph.d. are in fact the survivors, and those in their cohort who "didn't make it" are unrepresented and probably un-measured.

so despite the motives for this kind of conference, it kind of makes sense. it's not like one's ph.d. supervisor would have a lot of information about non-academic jobs, because (s)he's spent an entire career gearing for the opposite.

hacking creativity.

part of me hopes that the creative process will always remain a mystery, with a level of randomness and experience that makes it fundamentally human. on the other hand, if someone could give me a recipe for being able to prove the theorems i want .. then yes: i'm sold! (-:

at any rate, the human brain is a rather interesting entity, and these excerpts are about its creative impulses.
"Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes."

~ from "Creative People Say No" @medium

once again, a few more thousand words.

this time around: one is a work of art, the other an infographic.

it is possible to have rows and rows of windmills, occupying surface area .. but at this scale, i think length is slightly more meaningful.

[ from the land art generator archive, with self explanatory title ]

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