Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Lifelong learning, policy and desire

an article by Heather Lynch (Institute of Education, University of Stirling) in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 29 Issue 6 (November 2008)

Recent lifelong learning policies have been criticised for creating an illusion of freedom whilst simultaneously reducing choice. The concept of desire permits engagement with the conscious and unconscious drives that underpin individual decision-making, which direct the life course. Utilising the ideas of Hume and Spinoza, the present article articulates the interrelated nature of desire and learning. Evidence is drawn from Learning Lives, a Teaching and Learning Research Programme-funded research project that uses the life history method to explore themes of agency, identity and learning across the life course. Boltanski and Thevenot's sociology of critical capacity is used as a heuristic tool that illuminates the mechanics of desire as described by eight contributors. Their stories provide a basis from which to critique policies for lifelong learning that appear limited in relation to the multiple desires that drive their life choices.

Efficient Tuition Fees and Examinations

an article by Robert J Gary-Bobo (Université Paris 1, Paris School of Economics) and Alain Trannoy (EHESS and GREQAM-IDEP) in Journal of The European Economic Association Volume 6 Number 6 (December 2008)

We assume that students observe only a private, noisy signal of their ability and that universities can condition admission decisions on the results of noisy tests. If the university observes a private signal of each student's ability, which is soft information, then asymmetries of information are two-sided, and the optimal admission policy involves a mix of pricing and pre-entry selection, based on the university's private information. In contrast, if all test results are public knowledge, then there is no sorting on the basis of test scores: Tuition alone does the job of implementing an optimal degree of student self-selection. These results do not depend on the existence of peer effects. The optimal tuition follows a classic marginal social-cost pricing rule.
© 2008 by the European Economic Association

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Why the IWF was wrong to lift its ban on a Wikipedia page

via on 11 December

"EDITORIAL: The Internet Watch Foundation faced a storm of criticism this week over its decision to add a Wikipedia entry to a blacklist of pages that ISPs block. Under pressure, the IWF removed the image from its blacklist. That decision was a mistake."

Full story

And I do recommend that you read Struan Robertson's thoughtful piece on this issue.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Turning to teaching: gender and career choice

an article by Andrea Raggl and Geoff Troman (School of Education, Froebel College, Roehampton University) in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 29 Issue 6 (November 2008)


As the largest public sector institution in the United Kingdom, education is a key site for studying the context of “choice” and changes in the identities of professional workers in contemporary society. Recruitment and retention problems in education have led to the creation of new routes into teaching to attract career changers from other professions and occupations. In this paper we focus on career changers within the Economic and Social Research Council project “Primary Teacher Identity, Commitment and Career in Performative School Cultures” who have entered teaching from other private sector occupations. The authors analyse these career changes in terms of “turning points” in the participants’ lives in order to assess the extent to which choices are “self-initiated”, “forced” or “structural”. They are interested in the basis on which these choices were made and the impact of gender on career decisions.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Emotional intelligence: theory and description: A competency model for interpersonal effectiveness

an article James Thomas Kunnanatt in Career Development International Volume 13 Issue 7 (2008)


Despite the crucial role that emotional intelligence (EI) could play in improving individuals’ performance and career prospects in organisations, employees, executives and career professionals across the world are still in search of practical frameworks for understanding the concept. This is because EI research outputs from academics still remain mostly as correlations, co-variations and associations between EI and other variables. This paper seeks to provide a practical framework that could help executives, employees and career advisors understand what EI competencies people need to acquire and how these could be developed through EI training.

The approach is to develop a competency-based model of EI based on inputs from academic research and feedback from EI training specialists. An attempt is made to incorporate the role of brain theory in EI. Exploration is also made into the progressive stages and dynamics involved in typical EI training programs.

The paper brings out current research insights and highlights the strategic significance of EI as an augmenter of job performance and career advancement. The competency-based model provides comprehensive understanding of the psychological configuration, inner mechanisms, and organization and operation of EI in human beings.

While the model holds many of the classic components of EI intact, a new sub-competence called social influence is introduced, with cautions about the difficulty in acquiring this sub-competence solely through EI training. Going beyond the popular literature, the paper explains the role of brain theory in EI – a dimension often ignored in EI discussions. Finally, the paper provides an abbreviated coverage of the progressive stages and the dynamics involved in typical EI training programs.

What to do with your blog over the holidays

Darren Rowse, one of the gurus of blogging, (ProBlogger Blog Tips among several others) asked this question of his readers and then answered the question by pointing at a blog he wrote a while ago, 7 Things to Do with Your Blog when you take a Vacation.

Only two of the suggestions out of the seven seem to fit for me personally.
Retrospective posting where the topic isn't time critical and keeping on going through the holiday (which makes it not much of a holiday).

Regulars here will know that since my health has been a bit uncertain (particularly after that Noro virus attack in November) I've been playing catch-up so retrospective posting is not a problem. Time critical items I do try to get to you straight away but there's not much in the information management sector that is vital (as in a threat to life or limb) and certainly not in careers guidance. Labour market information is, perhaps, more important but most of you will have your own sources for that.

What should I do with this blog over the holidays?

Carry on as normal taking Christmas Day off because by the time I've got in from Midnight Mass and then slept in there's not much of the day left!

Here's to a bright New Year for all.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Ten more off-topic items I've found recently

10th day of xmas from Intute via Intute: Social Sciences Blog by Heather Dawson on 23 December
Heather and the team at Intute counted back from Christmas and started with the partridge in the pear tree on 13 December. It's been great fun but this one is the best if you have a vivid imagination!

and through to the PNC christmas price index - how much do the days of xmas really cost!

Deck the Halls via by Maeve on 23 December
Many of the traditional Christmas songs in English contain words or references that have changed in meaning or fallen out of common use.
Maeve covers the meaning and history of words such as: deck, don, doff, gay, troll, yule and, of course, carol.

Leap second to be added to the official world time via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz on 10 December
On December 31, at 23:59:59 UTC, a leap second will be added to the official timekeeping clocks of the world. That's because the timescales of atomic clocks and the earth's rotation aren't perfectly in synch. From Smithsonian:

Earth's rotation is the traditional form of timekeeping. It is what defines a day. However, while we call a day 86,400 seconds, it is really 86,400.02 seconds. All those .02 seconds add up over time. In addition, the earth's rotation is not constant – it has been slightly slowing, and 900 million years ago a day was only 18 of our hours.
Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 12 December
Have you ever wondered about the chemistry behind items that you use everyday? Check out these articles from the American Chemical Society's Chemical and Engineering News. Items covered range from instant coffee to nail polish, and fireworks to cement.

Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 29 October
Do tales of witchcraft and wizardry, Harry Potter novels, for instance, have a negative effect on children? Richard Dawkins wants to know... more

Light bulb warning sign via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 5 December
Found on Next Nature:

19th century people needed some explanation to understand the difference between the regular candlelight and the electrically simulated candlelight. Note the disclaimer at the bottom: "The use of Electricity for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep."
Smart fabrics make clever (medical) clothing via ICT Results
European researchers have developed a smart fabric that can monitor muscular overload and help prevent repetitive strain injury or RSI. But that is just the beginning. The team is also exploring a pregnancy belt to monitor baby’s heartbeat, clothing to help coach hockey, and shirts that monitor muscle fatigue during training.

Punctuation Game via Daily Writing Tips by Sharon on 25 October
So you think you know your punctuation? Now you can put it to the test. Eats, Shoots and Leaves, reviewed by Maeve in July, has a punctuation game online.
There are to questions on the placement of the apostrophe and comma, and at the end of the game you get a score showing how much of a stickler you are for correct punctuation use.

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 18 October
Life without my noisy boy. "You can't tell just by looking at us. There isn't even a name for parents who have lost children"... more

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 16 October
The array of worst-case natural disasters in the new "Climate Change" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is downright biblical in character... more

Friday, 26 December 2008

Shameless self-promotion

via PSD Blog - The World Bank Group by Ryan Hahn

It may not be 100 percent in line with private sector development, but, hey, what else are blogs for?

The Institute for Higher Education Policy today released a new (and long awaited) report by Ryan Hahn and Derek Price on College-Qualified Students Who Don't Enroll in College. Among its many findings on college-going in the US, I thought I'd highlight one in particular:

Students may also be wary about taking out loans to finance their education; about one-third of non-college-goers indicated an aversion to borrowing, and 45 percent of counselors stated that an unwillingness to borrow was almost always or frequently important.
If so many American students are put off by loans, one has to wonder how much higher aversion to borrowing is in less debt-ridden societies. Yet if countries are to find sufficient resources available to fund higher education, I see little alternative. Reducing the risk of borrowing then becomes crucial to creating a well-funded and equitable system of higher education finance.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Geography: A-level: Revision World

via Latest Internet resources added to Intute: Science Engineering and Technology

The resource for A-Level students is taken from RevisionWorld by Emerge Networks Limited, a free online revision resource. AS and A2 Geography courses are covered, and specific modules include coastal environments, population, challenge of the atmosphere, and glacial environments. The site includes discussion forums and advice on preparing for and taking examinations.

Check it out

Hazel's comment:
Does what it says on the tin.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Record number of adults gain vocational qualifications

via NDS RSS on 18 December

A record number of adults gained vocational qualifications in the past academic year, according to new ONS figures published today (18 December).

Read the press release from the DIUS

Monday, 22 December 2008

Work and work roles: a context of tasks

an article by Isto Huvila in Journal of Documentation Volume 64 Issue 6 (2008)


Both task-based and work-oriented research approaches have proved their value in information science research. A task is a workable analytical unit of human activity, which brings the level of explication close enough to cater for individual actions and their consequences. Similarly, work and work roles have been effective concepts at explicating the broad patterns of professional information activity. Major issues of the existing approaches are the difficulty of conceptualising the contexts of tasks and the relatively high level of abstraction of a work level scrutiny. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how the concepts of “work”, “work role” and “task” might be integrated into a common research agenda. It is suggested that the explication of work and work roles might serve in providing additional understanding on the formation of the purposes, meanings and values, which guide the shaping of the activities conceptualised as tasks.

The issue is discussed in general with a reference to an empirical study of information work of archaeology professionals informed by the notion of work role.
It is suggested that the broader notions of work and work roles are useful concepts for explicating the context of more specific tasks.

Research limitations/implications
The suggested approach brings together task and work–work role-based research and provides a basis for exploring human information activity from a broader perspective than before and thus improving the general understanding of why and how information is used as it is used.

Practical implications
The study provides an approach to conceptualise the ways how people work with information and lays the ground for improving information management and organisation practices.

There has been little prior discussion about integrating the task and work-based approaches. The paper suggests that the explication of work and work roles might serve in providing additional understanding on the formation of the purposes, meanings and values, which guide the shaping of the activities conceptualised as tasks.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Are social networks sinking?

by Michael Fitzgerald via Technology Review from MIT

The economic downturn and uncertain business plans could result in an industry-wide shakeout.

Read More »

Hazel's comment:
The link above takes you to an advert (can't be avoided) but I thought this was quite an interesting article in terms of business planning, or the lack of it, being the main driver of who is likely to be still around when the upturn comes. And it may not be quite the names that you think!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Bad jobs news

via Centre for Cities by Dermot Finch on 17 December
  • Today's jobs news was bad. The latest labour market stats from the ONS show that the recession is now hitting hard.

  • Employment Minister Tony McNulty admitted that today's figures were "very disappointing".

  • At the regional level, the unemployment rate is highest in the North East (8.2%) and London (7.6%).

Hazel's comment:

Please link through to the full article as Dermot Finch has an ability that I envy – the ability to read a statistical press release and turn the data into intelligible English. And provide rational explanations where needed.

A parallel hybrid ant colony optimisation approach for job-shop scheduling problem

an article by Haipeng Zhang and Mitsuo Gen in International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management Volume 16 Number 1/2 (2009)

In this paper, the authors combine Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO) with some randomised dispatching heuristics and propose a special transition rule for finding the best schedule to the job-shop sceduling (JSP) problems. Moreover, a special critical path-based local search is also combined to improve the best solutions by reducing the idle time. In order to gain higher efficiency of the proposed algorithm and avoid the early convergence in local optimal solution, they enhance the hybrid ACO by building a parallel hybrid Ant Colony Optimisation (ph-ACO) algorithm. Some numerical examples are used to demonstrate the performance of the ph-ACO and they can find that the proposed ph-ACO algorithm with Longest Remaining processing Time (LRT) and Longest Remaining processing time Excluding the operation under consideration (LRE) can both improve the efficiency of the algorithm obviously. Furthermore, we also decide the appropriate parameter setting of β is around 2. Finally, after comparing with hybrid Genetic Algorithm (GA) by solving same benchmark problems, the experimental results show the proposed ph-ACO outperforms traditional ACO and hybrid GA.

Hazel's comment:
Sorry but I couldn't resist including this one as an example of some of the totally irrelevant stuff I have to read (skim through) to get at the valuable things!

Today's Trivia Ten

Cognition, video games and silver surfers via Mental Health Update by John Gale on 15 December
Playing computer games has traditionally been seen as a young person's activity but an increasing number of older people are “silver surfers” and a recent study has shown that playing video games can improve cognition in this group.
Find out more about this research

Canned Libraries Open New Vistas To Readers (Aug, 1936) via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow on 1 December
In this 1936 Modern Mechanix article, a fantasy about shrinking the Library of Congress to fit "in a few small filing cabinets" on microfiche/film. Once this is done, copies of the great library will be distributed to worthy institutions all over the world.

Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 19 December
If you haven't come across it before then check out NORAD tracks Santa. See a video of Santa as he travelled the world last year, follow the Christmas countdown with updates from the North pole and prepare to track Santa this year either on the NORAD site or on Google Earth.
Fermilab has an article and correspondence on how Santa can manage his deliveries in the time available and how he satisfies the laws of physics.

Pet owners reined in by conduct code - The Guardian via Current Awareness by traceydennis on 5 November
"The cats will already have figured out that under the government's new code of conduct for pet owners the rule 'create a suitable environment for your pet to live in' should mean extra sardines and access to the duvet pile in the airing cupboard. An eight-week consultation period, on codes of conduct for owners of cats, dogs and horses, was introduced yesterday by the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, who said the guidance gave practical advice on how people should meet their responsibilities under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act."
Full story

One Minute Languages
Claims that you can learn the basics of a language in a matter of minutes. One Minute Languages will introduce you to a new language from scratch. Each language features ten lessons and each lesson is only a couple of minutes long.

Numskulls, Noodles, and Nincompoops via Daily Writing Tips by Maeve on 19 November
When I began to research words meaning "stupid person," I expected to find ten or so common ones and be done with it.
Instead I've found dozens upon dozens of English words used to describe a person of perceived limited intelligence.
I plan to continue my research, but here are twelve for a start.

Will life on planet Google be a nightmare or a dream? [The Independent]

Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 7 November
Many of us have been enjoying fireworks this week but how much do we know of the science behind them.
Check out these sites and impress your friends with your knowledge!
Kaboom! from NOVA looks at the anatomy of a firework, and the contributions of individual chemical elements.
NOVA also provide a companion site to their television programme Fireworks! which was originally broadcast in 2002.
Pyrotechnics - the art of fire by Petri Pikho covers the art and science of fireworks.
Professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a page on fireworks as part of his chemical of the week series.

Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 21 November
The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) provides this blog of daily mathematical puzzles taken from the American Mathematics Competitions. Each puzzle has a hint, a solution and an indication of its difficulty.

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 23 October
Charles Schulz's one regret: he never once let Charlie Brown kick the football held out for him by Lucy. What was it about that unkicked football?... more

Friday, 19 December 2008

SCoRe: national UK catalogue of printed company reports

via Karen Blakeman's Blog by Karen Blakeman on 11/10 (10 November I think as I can't possibly still have October in draft)

SCoRe (Search Company Reports) is a catalogue of printed company reports, both current and historic, held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but it is a very quick and easy way of identifying libraries that hold hard copy reports. The participating libraries include London Business School, the British Library, Manchester Business School, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Strathclyde University and the University of Warwick. A full list is available at

Hazel's comment:
Very useful to review the performance of a company that you might be thinking of approaching for a job.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Comparative Analyses of Skills and Performance

A paper written for the Institute for Employment Studies attempts to examine the contribution and limitations of comparative international skills benchmarking studies. It also revisits the 1984 publication, Competence and Competition, from the then Institute for Manpower Studies, and considers what elements of it have had a lasting contribution to the English education and training debate. Some of the issues highlighted by the 1984 document that are still considered to be relevant now are:

Problems with the supply of science, engineering, technology and maths students.
Weaknesses in management education and training.
The lack of a mass, high quality work-based training route for young people.
The need for FE colleges to market themselves to employers and to be more responsive to employer demand.

A comparison is made between Competence and Competition and the Leitch Review's Final Report in 2006. It notes how the earlier document's recommendations were less ambitious. This was based on a perception that it was highly unlikley that in terms of overall levels of work-related education and training, England could ever catch up with Japan and the USA. The paper concludes by arguing for education and training policy to be based on a wider appreciation of economic and social systems and for policy makers to learn from other countries where this is happening.

Full details here

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Internet as social ally

an article by Amy Tracy Wells and Lee Rainie in First Monday Volume 13 Issue 11 (November 2008)

How do people use the Internet to solve problems? Employing quantitative and qualitative data from two surveys, one in which a random selection of the U.S. population responded and one in which a self-selected group of people responded, the authors argue that individuals use different sources and channels to seek information and assistance, depending on the problem they face. The authors find that a significant portion of online Americans turn to the Internet at times because it seems to fulfill their needs more readily and thoroughly than the people in their community network do. They present evidence of when people use the Internet versus seeking the assistance of friends and family and possible reasons for this behavior. This research demonstrates how, to what extent, when and why the Internet supplements people’s lives.

Full Text: HTML

To be one's own confessor: educational guidance and governmentality

an article by Andreas Fejes (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linkping University, Sweden) in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 29 Issue 6 (November 2008)

Educational guidance is often seen as something good and empowering for the individual. In the present article, such taken-for-granted ideas will be destabilised by analysing educational guidance as a practice in which confession operates as a technology that fosters and governs specific subjectivities. White Papers produced by the Swedish Ministry of Education will be analysed drawing on Foucault's concepts of technologies of the self and governmentality. The author will argue that the practice of educational guidance fosters our will to learn through the technology of confession. We are not only confessing ourselves to, and are the confessors of others, we are also our own confessors; that is, we confess our inner desires to ourselves, thus participating in shaping desirable subjectivities. Our desires in life coincide with the political ambition to govern, and thus we govern ourselves.

Hazel's comment:
Interesting thought!

Head of school exams watchdog resigns over SATs fiasco

via Telegraph Education on 13 December

Ken Boston the Head of school exams watchdog resigns over SATs fiasco on the eve of a government report.

Full report here

Hazel's comment:
If he was going to go then why leave it this long? In the, now proven forlorn, hope that the row would blow over? Too many of us do that in situations that to an outsider look hopeless, and I'm one of the worst.

And, in typical journalistic fashion, we have Dr Boston as head of "school exams watchdog" but as readers of this blog are well aware he is (was) in charge of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority which organisation does a great deal more than monitor SATs and other school exams.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Advice for the job hunter: Know thyself first

via TechRepublic Blogs by Toni Bowers on 30 October

Before you can sell yourself to a prospective employer, you must look at the actual skill set you possess and not what you'd like to have.

Read the full article which is written for job-seekers but don't let that deter you from reading a short piece about matching skills to job requirements.

Facebook as a social search engine and the implications for libraries in the twenty-first century

an article by Mark-Shane Scale in Library Hi Tech Volume 26 Issue 4 (2008)


The primary objectives of this research paper are to explore the concept of social search, evaluate the performance of Facebook as a social search engine, and to understand the relationship between social networking sites (SNS) and social search. The author's intention is to examine the possibility that Facebook presents as the future of on-line search and the implications for libraries.

This study reviews the literature on SNSs, Facebook studies, and the concept of social search. It then explores Facebook as a social search engine through participant observation, personal experience and experiment. The experiment is based on two identified search queries. Both queries are performed, wherein the results retrieved are displayed using tables and evaluated.

Facebook as a people search engine, yields irrelevant results in response to search queries for unknown persons or groups. Facebook may also fail to provide timely and relevant results when attempting to get information from persons with whom the user has a weak relationship. Findings also indicate the limitations of users functioning as quasi-librarians as it relates to the quality of information retrieval.

Practical implications
The findings are relevant for library and information science academics and professional practitioners.

The author provides an approach for evaluating the quality of information retrieval in social search using the traditional information retrieval evaluation methods of library and information scientists. He also revisits old arguments on the importance of the profession to web information in light of new trends and data.

Weeding: facing the fears

an article by Eleonora Dubicki in Collection Building Volume 27 Issue 4 (2008)

The purpose of this paper is to provide librarians with an approach to weeding, which reduces librarians’ fears and concerns of withdrawing books from an academic collection.
The paper takes the form of a case study.
The paper outlines specific steps for implementing a weeding project, including developing criteria and procedures, garnering the support of administration, building librarian confidence in performing weeding, and encouraging teaching faculty involvement.
The paper provides insights into the nature of the concerns and fears librarians face in weeding an academic library collection, and offers suggestions on how to build confidence and support for weeding among both librarians and academic faculty.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Review of Careers Services in Wales

The Deputy Minister for Skills has approved the Terms of Reference for the Review of Careers Services in Wales. The Review has been commissioned as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Skills that Work for Wales strategy and action plan. Its purpose will be to determine how well placed the Careers Services are to respond to developments in policy, demographic changes and current and possible future economic conditions.

The Review will be undertaken by the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills. This will be under the supervision of a Project Management Group which will include Careers Wales representation. An external reference group will be appointed from the Wales Employment and Skills Board to take account of the information produced and to provide recommendations.

Terms of Reference and Project Initiation details (in English)

Income inequality and poverty rising in most OECD countries

via OECD on 21 October

The gap between rich and poor has grown in more than three-quarters of OECD countries over the past two decades, according to a new OECD report.
OECD’s Growing Unequal? finds that the economic growth of recent decades has benefited the rich more than the poor. In some countries, such as Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States, the gap also increased between the rich and the middle-class.
Countries with a wide distribution of income tend to have more widespread income poverty. Also, social mobility is lower in countries with high inequality, such as Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, and higher in the Nordic countries where income is distributed more evenly.
Launching the report in Paris, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría warned of the dangers posed by inequality and the need for governments to tackle it.

For country-specific data, please visit

Read Oxford Professor Sir Anthony Atkinson's related article in the OECD Observer.

Key Findings of Growing Unequal?

Why is the gap between rich and poor growing?
In most countries the gap is growing because rich households have done significantly better than middle-class and poor households. Changes in the structure of the population and in the labour market over the past 20 years have contributed greatly to this rise in inequality.
Wages have been improving for those people who were already well paid.
Employment rates have been dropping among less-educated people.
And, there are more single-adult and single-family households.

Who is most affected?
Statisticians and economists assess poverty in relation to average incomes. Typically, they take the poverty line to be equivalent to one-half of the median income in a given country.
Since 1980, poverty among the elderly has fallen in OECD countries.
By contrast, poverty among young adults and families with children has increased.
On average, one child out of every eight living in an OECD country in 2005 was living in poverty.
What does this mean for future generations?
Social mobility is generally higher in countries where income inequalities are relatively low. In countries with high income inequalities, by contrast, mobility tends to be lower.
Children living in countries where there is large gap between rich and poor are less likely to improve on the education and income attainments of their parents than children living in countries with low income inequality.
Countries like Denmark and Australia have higher social mobility, while the United States, United Kingdom and Italy have lower mobility.

What can be done?
In some cases, government policies of taxation and redistribution of income have helped to counteract widening inequalities, but this cannot be their only response. Governments must also improve their policies in other areas.
Education policies should aim to equip people with the skills they need in today’s labour market.
Active employment policies are needed to help unemployed people find work.
Access to paid employment is key to reducing the risk of poverty, but getting a job does not necessarily mean you are in the clear. Growing Unequal? found that over half of all households in poverty have at least some income from work.
Welfare-in-work policies can help hard-pressed working families to have a decent standard of living by supplementing their incomes.

Who should do the talking? The proliferation of dialogue as governmental technology

an article by Mads Peter Karlsen (University of Copenhagen) and Kaspar Villadsen (Copenhagen Business School) in Culture and Organization Volume 14 Issue 4 (December 2008)

This paper investigates the recent proliferation of appeals to “dialogue” as a solution to problems in a broad spectrum of different organisational settings. Instead of top-down management and expert-driven public services, we are told we need “dialogue-based” management, health treatment, elder care, social counselling, and so forth. Dialogue is often presented as a tool that will reverse the stifling dominance of authoritative expertise and leadership, liberating the energy of employees, clients and patients. However, by viewing the dialogue as a “governmental technology”, the authors emphasise that it is not simply a tool that can be used by some to liberate or govern others, or to dominate nature. A technology is rather a structuring of actions that implies that also “the governors” inevitably exercise power over themselves. The paper demonstrates how dialogue technology re-structures organisational domains of speech and hereby contributes to reconfiguring inter-relations and self-relations within key institutions of modern society.

Life after death? The Soviet system in British higher education

an article by Hugo Radice in International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy Volume 3 Number 2 (2008)

Recent studies of British higher education (HE) have focused on the application of the principles of the “new managerialism” in the public sector, ostensibly aimed at improving the effectiveness of research and teaching, and also on the increasing commercialisation of HE. This article examines HE management in the light of the historical experience of the Soviet system of economic planning. Analogies with the dysfunctional effects of the Soviet system are elaborated with regard to financial planning and the systems of quality control in academic research and teaching. It is argued that Soviet-style management systems have paradoxically accompanied the growing market orientation of HE, undermining traditional professional values and alternative models of engagement between HE institutions and the wider society.

A Psychometric Evaluation of Super's Work Values Inventory—Revised

an article by Carrie H Robinson and Nancy E Betz (The Ohio State University) in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 16 Number 4 (2008)


This study describes the psychometric evaluation of Super's Work Values Inventory—Revised (SWVI-R), an instrument comprised of 12 scales measuring the relative importance placed on the following work-related value dimensions:

Mental Challenge
Work Environment
These Work Values scales were internally consistent and showed predictable patterns of gender differences and similarities. Racial/ethnic differences in the relative emphasis placed on work values were also explored in this study. The factor analysis yielded four theoretically consistent underlying factors, as follows:
Furthermore, the scales and factors of the SWVI-R were related to the broader cultural value systems of individualism and collectivism. In addition, the Work Values scales demonstrated adequate discriminant validity with two aspects of social desirability. Limitations of this study are discussed, along with further research on and potential uses for this inventory.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Child Maintenance Options

via Latest Internet resources added to Intute: Social Sciences Government Policy gateway

Child Maintenance Options is a website provided by the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission. This UK Commission is the Non-Departmental Public Body that is responsible for child maintenance (regular financial payments to support the living costs of children made by divorced, separated, or other parents who do not live with their child). It provides information to consumers about regulations and applications for child maintenance plus access to forms, explanatory leaflets and online tools for calculating maintenance payments. It includes information on arrangements using the Child Support Agency (CSA).

11 November 10

“Pride cometh before a fall.” A saying that is often used when people, such as me, are crowing or presenting feelings of smugness. Sure as eggs is eggs it's true but it is, as I discovered this morning, actually a misquotation from the Bible which says (Proverbs 16: 18-19):

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Yes, I was proud of having reduced the time between “read and save as draft” and the actual publication of the item on the blog but “destruction” is too strong a word for the feeling of failure at having not maintained the impetus.

Enough of me – let's get to the important things.

Antipodr via MakeUseOf
Have you ever wondered what is on the opposite side of the earth? This online tool lets you type in your location and find out the exact opposite point on other side of the world.
Straight through from Kettering brings me out in the Pacific so even if I survived the heat of the earth's core I'd drown!

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 25 October
From directly to into your hippocampus. You won't have to read War and Peace, you'll just download it into your brain. Something like that... more

Use The Internet To Save The World via by Tina on 14 November
The Internet is a tool for many things. You can use it to organise your life, educate yourself, socialise, promote your business or just waste time. All of these topics have been covered extensively on MakeUseOf. Today I want to show you how you can use the World Wide Web to help save energy and resources which in turn will save you money and preserve the environment.

Dewey Decimal System Name Meme via Phil Bradley's weblog on 11 November
What DDC number are you? Yes, it's a pointless silly quiz, but how many quizzes are based on Dewey?

Study on how spammers cash in via BBC News Technology UK Edition on 10 November
Spammers get one response for every 12.5 million emails they send and still make big profits, suggests a study.

Computer code via BBC News Technology UK Edition on 6 November
Bletchley and the origins of the computer age

Botanicalls Kit - find out when your plant needs watering via Twitter alerts to your mobile phone via The Red Ferret Journal by Nigel 7 November
The new Botanicalls Kit lets you get "water me" alerts from your plants via Twitter alerts to your mobile phone. That's right, you can now have a sort of weird 21st century digital conversation with your flora at all times of the day or night.

Pomegranates, Not Poppies for Afghan Farmers via Latest news from our site on 21 November
Kandahar is famous all over Afghanistan for its high quality pomegranates, which are now being exported to different countries with the help of a US initiative by the US Agency of International Development that hopes to find an alternative to opium-producing poppies for farmers in the impoverished nation.

via Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate on 20 October
Many scholars think media manipulate the masses, turning ordinary people into emotional mobs. They never see themselves in the mob... more

brand tags via Phil Bradley's weblog by philipbradley
This is just really interesting. It's a site that displays brands on the screen for you (like Canon, Google, Costco and so on) and you add in a word or a phrase to describe what it means to you. Almost entirely pointless, yet engaging at the same time. It’s interesting to see what the image says – I [Phil not me] did one for a product I didn’t know called “dippin dots” and tagged it as “fish”. In actual fact it‘s an ice cream company of some sort. Some companies need to be concerned – “Capital One” had as some seriously large/common/popular tags “annoying”, “barbarians”, “crooks”, “debt” and so on. There's also a pit one brand against another game, which is great if you're feeling annoyed and want a release of tension!

Universities failing Internet-minded students

via E-consultancy - Internet Marketing News and Blogs on 18 November

Kudos to Bigmouthmedia for its campaign to raise awareness of digital marketing among students and graduates, who are apparently unaware that it is a career option.
The Internet industry at large is very much a career option, and it's a shame that universities and colleges aren't doing more to promote “digital” as a serious alternative for marketing and business-orientated students, as well as the tech-minded (who are better catered for).

Read more…

Hazel's comment:
E-consultancy is a regular read – but it is rare that I read something that I think is interesting in terms of careers information. Good for business, good for my own learning about all things digital but careers information? Nah, would have been my answer before reading this post.

Graduate recruitment and selection in the UK: A study of the recent changes in methods and expectations

an article by Mohamed Branine in Career Development International Volume 13 Issue 6 (2008)


This paper seeks to examine the changes in the methods of graduate recruitment and selection that have been used by UK-based organisations and to establish the reasons for the main changes and developments in the process of attracting and recruiting graduates.

Data were collected through the use of a structured questionnaire. Questionnaires were sent to 700 UK-based employers selected from the Prospects Directory, the Graduate Employment and Training (GET) Directory and the Times Top 100 Graduate Recruiters. The response rate was just over 50 per cent and the data were analysed by using the statistical analysis software SPSS. The variables used were organisation size, recruitment methods, selection methods, cost, skills and reasons for the use of methods.

The analysis has shown that all employers, regardless of organisation size or activity type, tend to use more sophisticated, objective and cost-effective methods of recruitment and selection than before. The process of graduate recruitment and selection in the UK has become more person-related than job-oriented because many employers are more interested in the attitudes, personality and transferable skills of applicants than the type or level of qualification acquired. Although some of the usual methods such as interviewing remain popular, there is a greater variety of ways by which graduates are attracted to and selected for their first jobs.

The findings of this study are expected to be useful for employers considering the introduction of new graduate recruitment programmes and for those wishing to improve their existing ones as well as for institutions of higher education to reconsider the type of knowledge and skills they provide in order to prepare their students for the real world of work.

Incremental Validity of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in Predicting Academic Major Selection of Undecided University Students

an article by Chad A Pulver (St. Joseph's College) and Kevin R Kelly (Purdue University) in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 16 Number 4 (2008)

This study examined the incremental validity of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as a predictor of academic major choice. Undecided university students were administered the MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Their academic major choice was recorded at the end of their fourth semester and categorized as realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional. The authors conducted sequential discriminant analyses based on the (a) SII alone and (b) combined use of the SII and MBTI. The SII general occupational theme scales correctly predicted 45.4% of cases, which was significantly better than chance. The hit rate based on the combined use of the SII and MBTI was 48.3%, which was not a significantly higher predictive increment. Implications of these findings for career counselors are discussed.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Emotional and Personality-Related Aspects of Career-Decision-Making Difficulties

an article by Noa Saka and Itamar Gati (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Kevin R Kelly (Purdue University) in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 16 Number 4

This research focuses on developing a theoretical framework for analyzing the emotional and personality-related aspects of career-decision-making difficulties. The proposed model is comprised of three major clusters: pessimistic views, anxiety, and self-concept and identity. In Study 1, the Emotional and Personality Career Difficulties Scale (EPCD) was developed, refined, and used to empirically test the model with an Israeli Internet sample (N = 728). Study 2 (N = 276) provided evidence for the cross-cultural validity of the proposed model, using an American college student sample. The relations between the cognitive and emotional components of career-decision-making difficulties are discussed, and theoretical, research, and counseling implications are explored.

Monday, 1 December 2008

No such thing as security

via Government Computing's email newsletter 6 November

Gordon Brown's comment that ministers cannot guarantee the security of sensitive data is, in one respect, a welcome recognition of reality.

The Prime Minister's problem is that his government has acted as if it can collect increasing amounts of personal data, join it up, offer it to many thousands of civil servants, and still promise it is safe.

Hazel's comment:
The PM admitting that maybe, just maybe, national government is not a safe place to have your data stored is one thing, the next is persuade the PM to stop collecting so much information about each and everyone of us so that there's less to lose and not so much impact if the security measures don't work.

Facebook as a Social Search Engine and the Implications for Libraries in the 21st Century

an article by Mr Mark-Shane Everett Scale in Library Hi Tech Volume 26 Issue 4 (2008)

The primary objectives of this research paper are to:
1. explore the concept of social search,
2. evaluate the performance of Facebook as a social search engine and
3. to understand the relationship between Social Networking Sites (SNS) and social search.
The author's intention is to examine the possibility that Facebook presents as the future of on-line search and the implications for libraries. The findings are relevant for library and information science academics and professional practitioners.
This study reviews the literature on SNSs, Facebook studies, and the concept of social search. It then explores Facebook as a social search engine through participant observation, personal experience and experiment. The experiment is based on two identified search queries. Both queries are performed, wherein the results retrieved are displayed using tables and evaluated.
Facebook as a people search engine, yields irrelevant results in response to search queries for unknown persons or groups. Facebook may also fail to provide timely and relevant results when attempting to get information from persons with whom the user has a weak relationship. Findings also indicate the limitations of users functioning as quasi-librarians as it relates to the quality of information retrieval.
The author provides an approach for evaluating the quality of information retrieval in social search using traditional information retrieval evaluation methods developed by library and information scientists. He also revisits old arguments on the importance of the profession to Web information in light of new trends and data.

10 off-topic items that may interest you

Hey, I'm catching up! This is only 26 days late (but it's only 25 days till Christmas)

Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 24 October
The BBC offers this selection of space games. There are a Solar system jigsaw, a quiz on voyages to the Moon, a space doctor game, and a space invaders game.

How to build lethal weapons from office supplies via TechRepublic Blogs by Jay Garmon on 29 October
Why spend your money on common Nerf weapons when you can hack together a truly dangerous device by raiding the office manager's supply closet? It's almost worth the inevitable lawsuits.

Oldest toy in Britain via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz on 23 October
The carved animal figure [above in the original posting] may be the oldest child's toy in Britain. Archaeologists from the University of Bristol found it last month near Stonhehnge and think it's at least 2,000 years old. They dug it out of a young child's grave. There is some debate about whether the toy is a pig or hedgehog.

Friday fun
via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 11/14/08
Check out these alternatives to the standard periodic table of elements.
The periodic table of comic books
The wooden periodic table
An animated version of Tom Lehrer's The elements

Weblog: Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century
via Phil Bradley's weblog by 6 November
No, I am NOT making this up. It is there, complete with pictures.

Bananas, euromyths and ridiculous regulations
via Nosemonkey's EUtopia by nosemonkey on 12 Novembe
And so yet more silly EU regulations bite the dust, as a bunch of rules on the physical appearance of fruit and vegetables are set to go the way of the Dodo. The most famous of these, of course, being the infamous "straight banana" euromyth that has been doing the rounds of the UK tabloids for years - "Brussels bureaucrats ban bananas!" and suchlike.
Whoever Nosemonkey is s/he is upset that the scrapping of some of the more ridiculous regulations removes a means of making fun of the EU.

Fan powered flying car
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 11 November
Charles Platt pointed me to this Times Online article about a fan-poweerd flying car. The British inventor is going to fly it from London to Timbuktu.

The worst excuses for missing work via TechRepublic Blogs by Toni Bowers on 28 October
A CareerBuilder survey reveals some of the weirdest reasons employees have given to explain a day off.

Friday fun via Science, Engineering & Technology Blog by Anne on 17 October
The BBC compiled this mathematical quiz to accompany Radio 4's More or Less programme in 2005.
See how many you can answer! Remember the quiz was written in 2005 so some of the questions refer to that year.

Arts & Letters Daily 11 November
So when did public intellectuals start dying out? With the invention of the Web, or was it in the days of John Stuart Mill – or ancient Athens?... more

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Towards a post-human distributed cognition environment

an article by Ali Yakhlef (Stockholm University School of Business and Groupe ESC-Pau)in Knowledge Management Research & Practice Volume 6 Issue 4 (December 2008)

The view of communities of practice as the relevant context for generating and gaining knowledge has raised fears that these will fall prey to various organisational, social or political manipulations. This paper aims to question these humanist concerns, arguing that knowledge context is increasingly becoming a post-human context that lies beyond the direct control and manipulation of humans. In terms of this post-human position, the paper outlines this shift, suggesting that emergence replaces human intentionality and the dynamic partnership between humans and non-humans, and that intelligent machines replace the liberalist, humanist subject's manifest destiny to dominate and control knowledge. This paper aims to raise/rekindle the debate on the prospects of managing knowledge and learning in organisations. Finally, implications for the community-based learning theory are discussed.

Hazel's comment:
As is usual I've read the abstract before being able to access the full article in the hard-copy journal but this sounds remarkably as though the author expects machines to take over the world – machines programmed by humans or super-intelligent ones that can manage which us?
Just checked the British Library holding and the printed journal has not arrived but this issue is available in the electronic collection so it looks as though I'll be sitting in front of a computer screen for a while next week!
I'll keep you posted on this one (although it may not be as interesting as the abstract leads me to think it might be).

Thursday, 27 November 2008

More on The Future of Higher Education

via Intute Blog by Paul Ayres on 14 November

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) in the process of reviewing how higher education works and what government needs to do to ensure that universities stay competitive, and meet the needs of students and employers over the next 10-15 years.
To that end, commissioned contributions from a number of key figures in the sector have been published on The Future of Higher Education blog and they are open to comment from community.
Some of the papers also include recommendations and cover a variety of subjects including:
Academia and public policy making
Demographic challenge facing Higher Education
Intellectual property and research benefits
International issues in higher education
Online higher education learning (E-learning)
Part-time studies in Higher Education
Research careers
Teaching and the student experience
Understanding institutional performance

Perhaps of particular relevance is the paper about On-line Innovation in Higher Education by Professor Sir Ron Cooke of JISC, which is analysed in some detail by Tony Hirst of the OU.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the issues of Higher Education, Educational Policy Educational Technology and the Public Administration of Education.

What more can I say?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Web users don't know how to report illegal content

via PC Advisor News on 27 October

Over three-quarters of web users have stumbled across disturbing content on the net but have no idea how to report it, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

Read the full article

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Government data losses: Distributed databases are not the answer

via TechRepublic Blogs by Tom Olzak on 3 November

As elected officials and non-elected government employees struggle with how to arise above bureaucratic, information security ineffectiveness, they continue to plan for and establish large, centralized databases containing our information. Is spreading the data across disparate repositories the answer?

Read the full article

Launch of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure

The creation of a legacy for The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has moved a step closer with the launch of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure.

Please click here to view the full press release
from the LSC on 20 November

Monday, 24 November 2008

Search engine cache does not infringe copyright, rules US court

via OUT-LAW News on 29 October

A court has ruled that Yahoo! and Microsoft had an implied licence to copy and display pages from a website because the operator of that site knew how the search engines’ opt-out procedures worked but chose to ignore them.

Read full article

Hackosis Brute Force Calculator – just how secure is your password?

via The Red Ferret Journal by Nigel on 4 November

The Hackosis Brute Force Calculator tells you how long your password will last against sustained attack. The results will probably surprise and scare you a little. Especially if you're relying on simple memorable passwords to lock away your online stuff.
Think again.
Think *($&£^"_8/>~'#89*&$*&

Better to be safe than sorry so check it out here

Hazel's comment:
1.22 days is too long for a hacker to try to break in, surely? Do you think I ought to change that one? The one mistake I do not make is to use the same password for everything, unlike some people I know. I needed, genuinely needed, to use someone else's password to get into a site to check something and was blithely told"you know it". Oh dear wasn't quite my reaction.

Domestic Workers Organize!

an article by Eileen Boris (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Premilla Nadasen (Queens College, CUNY) in WorkingUSA Volume 11 Issue 4 (2008)

This article traces the history of domestic worker organisng in the U.S. It challenges the long-standing assumption that these – primarily women of colour – cleaners, nannies, and elder care providers are unorganizable and assesses the possibilities and limitations of recent organising efforts. The nature of the occupation – its location in the home, the isolated character of the work, informal arrangements with employers, and exclusions from labour law protection – has fostered community-based, social movement organising to build coalitions, reform legislation and draw public attention to the plight of domestic workers. Their successes, as well as the obstacles they encounter, hold lessons for other low-wage service sector workers in a new global economy. Domestic workers have integrated an analysis of race, class, culture, and gender – a form of social justice feminism – into their praxis, thus formulating innovative class-based strategies. Yet long-term reform has remained elusive because of their limited power to shape state policy.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Why I copyfight

Cory Doctorow in the November issue of Locus Magazine

Read it here and don't blame me for not wanting to précis it. Cory's writing does not easily lend itself to being summarised and the piece is far too good to be ignored!

Policy for a change: local labour market analysis and gender equality

Edited by Sue Yeandle

GBP 65 (52 with website discount)

ISBN: 9-781-84742-054-1

232 pages HB 240 x 172

Using a new and original approach, this illuminating book explores women's employment at the start of the 21st century, identifying aspects of women's labour market situation which remain poorly understood and challenging much “received wisdom” about women and work.
Further information from the Policy Press online bookshop

Hazel's comment:
Probably most of the publications from Policy Press are either a) way out of our league price-wise or b) don't cover the subjects in which most guidance and careers information practitioners are interested.
a) probably applies here except for the larger organisations but b) certainly doesn't. I've not had the opportunity to read the book yet (not yet in the British Library catalogue and at 232 pages I'm actually going to read it) but the write-ups make it look really good.

Regional labour market disparities are narrowing

via Intelligence November 2008 from UKCES

New figures from Eurostat (the European Commission's statistical office) suggest that regional disparities in employment and unemployment have been narrowing over recent years. However, despite this, nearly a fifth of the economically active population in the 27 European Union countries is still living in under-performing regions in terms of unemployment. Eurostat's analysis looks at two kinds of regional labour market disparity indicators. These are the dispersion of employment and unemployment rates and the index of underperforming regions.
Full details here

!0 more trivial (or in one case not trivial) items

which should have been published, if I'd stuck to my to-do list, on 28 October

HOWTO turn a banana into a no-spoon baby-meal via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow on 17 October
Here's an awesome Parenthack: mash a banana in the peel, rip off one end and squirt it into your kid's gob like icing.

Sylvania Dot-it light bugs via Popgadget: Personal Tech for Women on 27 October
Dot-it light bugs come in packs of two or five lights (in color combos with white, black, green, blue, and purple) and can be purchased from Sylvania.

Do not discard brain – war on terror poster via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow on 20 October
Today's Wellington Grey comic says it all: "Warning: In Case of Terrorist attack, do not discard brain."

Internet searching may boost brain
For middle-aged and older adults, searching the Internet could be a boost to the brain, a new study suggests.
(from Internet Resources News – thanks to Roddy and the crew)

Project Euler via Newton Excel Bach, not (just) an Excel Blog by dougaj4 on 12 November
Whilst tag-surfing I discovered Project Euler, which looks like fun for people who enjoy mathematical puzzles.

Personality test for your blog via Innovate by (Peta) on 13 November
Typealyzer analyses your blog to assess your personality type.

Temptation Blocker - superb software helps control our sad computer addiction via The Red Ferret Journal by Nigel on 12 November
Temptation Blocker is a freeware program that helps you kick the habit. You know, the procrastinating, time-wasting, life-sapping computer addiction you pretend you haven't got.

Another data loss? via The Privacy, Identity & Consent Blog by Toby Stevens on 10 November
Newsbiscuit is reporting that a book containing the names and telephone numbers of hundreds of thousands of people has been discovered on a doorstep.
You know what? There was an identical one on my neighbour's doorstep too.

Burmese blogger receives 20-years prison for poem about dictator via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 11 November
A blogger, a poet, and a lawyer from Burma (Myanmar) all received prison sentences for a poem that contained a hidden message criticizing Burmese dictator Senior General Than Shwe.
Thank God I don't live in Burma.

Is surfing the Internet altering your brain? via bizSugar / Hot Topics by ArmadaIG on 31 October
The Internet is not just changing the way people live but altering the way our brains work with a neuroscientist arguing this is an evolutionary change which will put the tech-savvy at the top of the new social order.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Count page views, not site visits, when suing for Internet libel

via OUT-LAW News on 4 November

Courts cannot assume that online material has been read without some evidence in libel cases, a court has ruled. The court cannot simply infer from statistics on website visits that certain people have read a particular article, it said.

Read the full article

European online library launches

via BBC News Technology UK Edition on 19 November

The British Library is among more than 1,000 cultural groups contributing to a European online library.

and almost immediately closes because the number of accesses overwhelmed the server!

Quality assurance and gender discrimination in English universities: an investigation

an article by Jayne Smith (Institute of Education Policy Research, Staffordshire University, Business School) in British Journal of Sociology of Education Volume 29 Issue 6 (November 2008)

The present paper argues that university quality assurance (QA) promotes a masculinist culture leading to systemic discrimination against female academics. The analysis relates to the question of what it is about academic life that results in persistent gender inequality. Based on an ethnographically informed comparative study, textual/discourse analysis of 30 interviewee transcripts reveals disguised messages about QA. The interpretation argued draws on a theoretical scrutiny of the covert power of a masculinist QA movement to disproportionately disadvantage female academics. The paper suggests that this has been made possible by a QA presentation discourse harnessed by male academics to manage identities. It argues that dominant definitions of the “competent academic” that discriminate against females are normalised and cemented within a societal conscience.

Friday, 21 November 2008

ICT in CEG national conference

The second ICT in CEG national conference will take place on 5-6 March at the Monkbar Hotel, York.

Careers information practitioners will probably be aware that it is some time since there has been an Information Managers' Conference and several of the option session topics will be of particular relevance to you!

Let's concentrate on the information and let others consider the technology of it!

Anyway, the programme has, say organisers Pete Hulse and Hilary Nickell, has come together well and all the details can be found on with an application form and feedback from the first conference last March.

Note that the discounted early bird offer will continue to the end of December so apply now!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

New one-stop shop for cohesion launched

The new iCoCo portal is a free interactive, searchable resource guide aimed at practitioners and policy-makers with an interest in cohesion. The portal will be constantly updated and expanded to offer improved services in the months to come.

Read the full press release

The cohesion Institute is at

They took their time but

the Learning and Skills Council has discontinued its contract with Liberata and appointed Capita to take on its full range of learner support services – including Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA) and the Adult Learning Grant (ALG).

Full press release here

I just hope that it is not from frying pan to fire but I guess the LSC didn't have a lot of choice.

Don't be a victim of Sinowal, the super-Trojan

via Windows Secrets by Woody Leonhard on 20 November

The sneaky “drive-by download” known as Sinowal has been, uh, credited with stealing more than 500,000 bank-account passwords, credit-card numbers, and other sensitive financial information.This exploit has foiled antivirus software manufacturers time and again over the years, and it provides us in real time a look at the future of Windows infections.

Read the full article and if you're anything like me you'll be worried! I actually read the whole article.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

10 off-topic items you may find interesting

and I can have a celebratory cup of coffee because this is the post that I should have published on 21 October so unlike the 14 October one I'm not a whole month behind (and it really is 07:50 on Thursday morning. I've not even had breakfast yet)!

Howjsay - audio dictionary
via LibrarianInBlack by Sarah Houghton-Jan on 7 October
OK, this is just plain useful. Howjsay is a dictionary with an audio component. Look up a word and get an MP3 clip with the correct pronunciation of the word. When your result comes back, the sound plays automatically but you can also hover your cursor over the word again and again to hear it repeated. The results page also shows nearby words (alphabetically). I did notice that the accent sounded slightly European (British-esque, but not quite). Plain, simple, easy, and awesome.

Site of the Day: Rules of Thumb
via Librarian of the Internet by findingDulcinea Staff on 10 October
Rules of Thumb gathers all those invaluable strictures that govern our lives and puts them into a single online reference. Whether they're life lessons or handy little tips, we all have rules of thumb that we adhere to and now there's a community where we can share them. Browse the site by topic, search for a particular term, or peruse the rules community members have found the most helpful.

Disco Tune Stayin' Alive Could Save Your Life
via Latest news from our site on 18 October
CPR can triple survival rates, but research has shown many people do chest compressions too slowly, or are reluctant to do it at all, because they are unsure about the proper rhythm. Now, doctors have found the Bee Gees 1977 disco classic Stayin' Alive provides an ideal beat to follow.

Cave Paintings Took Thousands of Years to Complete
via on 9 October
Archaeologists’ new dating techniques reveal a shocking fact about cave paintings: many of the paintings were done over a period of 20,000 years or so.

BookCrossing - where are they now?
via The Red Ferret Journal by Dan on 22 October
BookCrossing has been around since 2001 and is still going strong with over 718,000 registered participants. For those of you new to the idea of BookCrossing, it's very simple. Simply register at the website and register the book you're going to set free.

List Lovevia Librarian of the Internet by findingDulcinea Staff (Rachel Balik Senior Writer) on 13 November

It's hard to say why, but as a culture, we adore lists. They're easy, natural and fun to make. You can make lists of places you want to go, lists of people to invite to a party, lists of things you need to do before the end of the week (OK, maybe that's not so much fun … but still.) At findingDulcinea, we're kicking off our own series of lists to keep you in touch with Web resources. To get you in the mood, we've found a few unique lists from around the Web.

1) The Village of Joy Blog lists "50 Strange Buildings of The World." Maybe strange isn't the right word: these buildings are universally architecturally awesome. A variety of shapes, styles and colors make each one of these buildings, new and old, entirely distinct.

2) Each year, Time magazine collects the 50 Best Inventions. Some of them are probably as structurally magnificent as the buildings, and many of them have great potential to alter culture as we know it. (The iPhone was once on this list.)

3) 7summits is a shorter list, but the seven items on it are of far greater magnitude: the highest mountains on Earth. Look at pictures, read stories and legends, or even consider making a trip to visit one—the site can help you figure out how much training you'll need to make the climb.

Games for the Brain
via Creative Commons » CC News by Cameron Parkins on 14 November
Games for the Brain is a fun site that features a number of memory, quiz, and brain games all released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. A number of the games are embeddable, making them easily available for sharing while others reuse previously CC-licensed material. Whether it is an online destination to pass time, procrastinate, or hone your mental skills, Games for the Brain is a nice and simple addition to the growing landscape of CC-licensed content.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

One step from benefits to work

via Department for Work And Pensions on 20 October

It will now be easier for people to move from benefits into work, as they will only have to make one call to update their details, ensuring they are getting the right in-work entitlements and that it pays to work.

Read the full press release

Hazel's comment:
If one call updates all the data that is required for moving from out-of-work benefits to in-work benefits then how many different databases does the person you are talking to have access to? One or many? If one then the potential for inappropriate use is enormous (not to mention possibly having the data lost), if more than one then the possibility for error is on a scale I do not like to think about. Or are all these data repositories linked?

10 interesting things

which should have been published on 14 October. I have been neglecting my duty to my reader!

Shrek Gets a New Donkey and Dragon is Redefined
via HappyNews - Top Stories on 1 October

brand tags
via Phil Bradley's weblog 7 October
This is just really interesting. It’s a site that displays brands on the screen for you (like Canon, Google, Costco and so on) and you add in a word or a phrase to describe what it means to you. Almost entirely pointless, yet engaging at the same time. Some companies need to be concerned – “Capital One” had as some seriously large/common/popular tags “annoying”, “barbarians”, “crooks”, “debt” and so on. There's also a pit one brand against another game, which is great if you're feeling annoyed and want a release of tension!
Thanks for that, Phil.

Reading Books Can Help Kids Lose Weight
via on 6 October
When a child is overweight, laying off the sugary snack foods and spending more time on the jungle gym may be good ways to drop a few points. But new research shows that there’s another effective weight loss method that you’ve probably never considered: reading a book.

Baconator: fantasy vs reality
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder on 1 October
An advertisement for the Baconator sandwich lured Timbotron of Blogadilla into a Wendy's restaurant. But the real thing didn't look much like the advertisement.
It was like when I found out that Santa Claus wasn't real.
All the ingredients were there, but they didn't look like the advertisement photos and they tasted like greasy sadness.

The "real" Mordor is...Transylvania (duh)
via TechRepublic Blogs by Jay Garmon on 13 October
The intricately described geography of the world of Lord of the Rings borrows liberally from the geography of Europe. How much so? Well, UCLA cartographer and geologist Peter Bird has mapped out much of Middle Earth as it would appear on actual Earth.

Where does he find them?
Cory Doctorow found this perfectly sick-making short promotional film for the London Transport service made in 1950.
If you can bear it you can watch eight minutes of the most patronising piece of film you are ever likely to come across (even for 1950).
Journey by a London Bus (1950)

A 1969 perspective on computers in the future
via TechRepublic Blogs by John Sheesley on 21 October
This 1969 video shows the convenience of online shopping, banking, and an electronic correspondence machine. It shows a future with a passable resemblance to today.

Giant Bat Swoops Back from Brink of Extinction
via on 4 November
You’d better duck – a giant bat species is swooping back after a near-brush with extinction.

King Solomon’s Copper Mines Found?
via HappyNews - Top Stories on 30 October

The Mighty Potato
via Doing Business Blog - The World Bank Group by Simeon Djankov on 5 November
A new paper by Nathan Nunn (Harvard University) and Nancy Qian (Brown University) comes up with a startling conclusion: the adoption of potatoes in the Old World (meaning Europe) explains 17% of the post-1700 increase in population growth and 37% of the increase in urbanization growth.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Another Look at Civic Literacy in a Digital Age

an article by Michael Berson (University of South Florida) and Phillip VanFossen (Purdue University) in Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Volume 8 Issue 3 (2008)

The second James F. Ackerman Colloquium on Technology and Citizenship, held on the campus of Purdue University in July 2007 was designed to bring together a group of 30 scholars to present research and to collaborate on these and other technology related issues. The event was sponsored by the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship, housed in Purdue University’s College of Education. The Colloquium was entitled “Educating for Citizenship in Digital and Synthetic Worlds: Privacy, Protection and Participation”. In this issue, we feature the following article that further extends the focus on the theme of Civic Literacy in a Digital Age: “An Analysis of Electronic Media to Prepare Children for Safe and Ethical Practices in Digital Environments”.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Smack down: copyright cases head to court (part 1) : Table of Contents

an article by Norm Medeiros in OCLC Systems & Services Volume 24 Issue 4

This paper aims to highlight two recent copyright controversies that have implications for academic institutions in the USA.
The paper focuses on the copyright infringement case against Georgia State University, detailing aspects of the lawsuit as they are noted in the complaint.
The paper recognizes the well-documented case against Georgia State University is strong, especially given contemporary views on fair use.
This paper offers depth to important copyright stories that may affect US institutions.

Hazel's comment:
May be offering depth to copyright stories that may affect US institutions but is also useful for institutions in other countries.