Sunday, 29 April 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

Australia’s hidden stash of censored books via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
In 2005, Australian literary historian Nicole Moore discovered a nearly-forgotten archive of her country’s banned books packed in nearly 800 boxes stored seven stories underground in a government repository. Moore ended up writing her own book, The Censor’s Library, about the history of Australian’s literary censorship. I think a great next step would be to open a public library stocked only with the once-banned books. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
As Moore shows, such secret collections have accumulated in many parts of the world, often carefully tended by censor-librarians. Private Case, Public Scandal, the book that revealed the contents of the British Library’s secret collection, was itself banned in Australia in 1966. Not surprisingly, the 20th century’s largest and most notorious repository of forbidden literature was in the Soviet Union, with more than 1 million items.
Contains adult themes
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Touring the Wild West, Oscar Wilde was delighted by a sign on the wall of a saloon, “Don’t shoot the piano player, he’s doing his best.” Alas, far too many pianos now go unplayed... more
Jungle Wars via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you lead a group of soldiers who must fight the band of pirates that have seized an island. Can you free the island or have the pirates finally found a cozy new home?
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here or you can go straight to the game here.
Power Corrupts, Corruption Empowers via Big Think by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd on 3/15/12
In The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics [], Bruce Bueno de Mesquita nakedly examines the (often ugly) means by which people are able to gain and keep power.
Read More
NB: It's actually a short video which is very badly synced.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The wages of modernism. Its inheritance has been enriching or impoverishing or even deadly, but don’t look to the academy for a clear-eyed assessment... more
The First Satellite Map of California (1851) via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
It’s 1849, and a Gold Rush is drawing thousands of American prospectors to California, which was snatched from Mexico only a year earlier[1]. The lay of the land is still poorly surveyed, the risks and resources of the terrain as yet largely unknown. So US President Zachary Taylor initiates a top secret government programme to speed-map the last piece in the puzzle of America’s Manifest Destiny.
Read More
And do, please, go as far as the comments. Some of them are hilarious.
Spiderwebs coat Australian countryside via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 497 Overrides Spider-Webs-Australia-Floods-Field 49728 600X450
Rain and flooding in the eastern Australian city of Wagga Wagga have driven sheet-web and wolf spiders to higher ground. But there is no accessible higher ground, so the spiders have had to create it themselves by spinning massive webs that sheet the countryside. The photos remind me of the William Shatner classic Kingdom of the Spiders (1977).
WARNING: Arachnophobes should not open the link below – the main picture shows lots of spiders not just the webs.
Spiderwebs Blanket Countryside After Australian Floods (National Geographic) (photos by Daniel Munoz/Reuters)
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In Brazil, every student studies philosophy – Plato, ethics, the will of the gods. Impressive, right? Academic philosophers don’t think so... more
Illuminated Manuscripts: Six Centuries of Ornate Decoration via Reading Copy Book Blog by elizabethc
Paradise and the Peri by Thomas Moore
An illuminated manuscript is any manuscript whose text is accompanied by decoration. The artwork can be silver or gilt, drawings or paintings, or intricate initials or borders. Often used for religious, spiritual or devotional texts in the early days, illuminations make a special book unforgettably beautiful.
This selection begins with a bible from 1400 and ends with a 2008 luxury limited edition of the Passover Haggadah by legendary illustrator Arthur Szyk.
Be illuminated! (Scroll down to see some stunning artwork but don't, whatever you do, look at the prices. E.g. $US 2million.
Universe’s Most Distant Galaxies Discovered via Big Think by Orion Jones
Using a powerful new telescope, astronomers have found the universe’s oldest galaxies at a distance of 10.5 billion light years from Earth. Because the galaxy clusters emit only infrared light, they have gone undetected by space sleuths like the Hubble Telescope, which has searched this particular region of the sky for thousands of hours.
Read More

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Organizational career growth, affective occupational commitment and turnover intentions

Qingxiong Weng (University of Science and Technology of China) and James C. McElroy (Iowa State University, USA) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


Survey data, collected from the People’s Republic of China, were used to test Weng’s (2010) four facet model of career growth and to examine its effect on occupational commitment and turnover intentions.

Weng conceptualized career growth as consisting of four factors: career goal progress, professional ability development, promotion speed, and remuneration growth. Results from a sample of 396 managers failed to confirm the four factor model, showing instead the need to collapse promotion speed and remuneration growth into a single facet, rewards.

The three remaining dimensions of career growth were negatively related to turnover intentions and affective occupational commitment was found to partially mediate these relationships.

Results are discussed in terms of using career growth to manage turnover.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Social Inequality and Access to Higher Education in Russia

an article by David L. Konstantinovskiy (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow) published in European Journal of Education Volume 47 Issue 1 (March 2012)


This article analyses research on social inequality and access to higher education in Russia.

It argues that the myth about equality of life chances, as with certain other myths, was an important part of the Soviet ideology. However, children from privileged groups traditionally received the education and professional training which were most advantageous for their subsequent lives and careers.

Recent research indicates that conditions in post-Soviet Russia are not eliminating social differentiation. This is clearly seen in access to higher education. It is shown that the inequality is noticeable in secondary education and is aggravated during the transition to higher education and vocational training (universities, colleges, vocational schools).

In order to explain the genesis of such inequality, the article considers research focusing on the situation at secondary school. The dynamics must be analysed over a long period, since the problems that post-Soviet youth face today have roots in the Soviet past. Hence, the article considers the results of studies conducted between the 1960s and today.

Socioeconomic diversity in STEM higher education

a research paper from CaSE (Campaign for Science and Engineering) [cannot find a publication date for this]


Amongst undergraduate students, a better-than-average level of socioeconomic status (SES) diversity was found in the Biological and Computer sciences. However, in the Physical, Mathematical, Engineering and Technological sciences, degree courses showed significantly lower socioeconomic diversity than the Higher Education average.

The science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) community, along with government, has a responsibility to recognise these trends and ensure fair access to STEM education for people from all backgrounds.

Full text (PDF 13pp)

It’s cooperation, stupid: Why Richard Dawkins, Thomas Hobbes and Milton Friedman got it wrong

The argument of this pamphlet by Charles Leadbetter, published by IPPR in partnership with Co-operatives UK, is that we should jettison the assumption that humans are selfish, first and foremost. Instead, we should start from the assumption that most of the time, most people want to be cooperative.

Full text (PDF 66pp)

Effectiveness of career counseling: A one-year follow-up

an article by Sophie Perdrix, Sarah Stauffer, Koorosh Massoudi and Jérôme Rossier (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) and Jonas Masdonati (Laval University, Québec, Canada) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


The short-term effectiveness of career counseling is well supported in the literature. However, the long-term impact is often overlooked. This study quantitatively investigated the long-term stability of the positive effects gained through the career counseling process and qualitatively observed participants’ levels of career project implementation.

Results indicated a continual decrease of career indecision in the long-term and stabilization with regard to clients’ satisfaction with life. Age was found to be an important variable in long-term effectiveness, with younger clients’ career decision difficulties decreasing more significantly than that of older clients.

Moreover, career decision-making readiness increased only in the long-term for emotional and motivational variables. The majority of clients implemented their career choice within a period of one year; some partially implemented it; others changed their career choice, rather successfully; and few people did not demonstrate advancement in either their choice or its implementation during this period of time.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Perceived social status and learning experiences in Social Cognitive Career Theory

an article by Mindi N. Thompson (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Jason J. Dahling (The College of New Jersey, Ewing, USA) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


The purpose of this study was to test a model based on Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) that placed perceived social status as an antecedent of career-related learning experiences, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations.

Gender was included in the present model and results indicated that gender related as expected to differential exposure to career-related learning experiences in Holland's (1997) RIASEC domains.

After controlling for the effects of gender, results demonstrated that perceived social status related positively to learning experiences in the Investigative, Enterprising, and Conventional areas among 380 college students. Further, these enhanced learning experiences mediated the relationships between perceived social status and self-efficacy, and between perceived social status and outcome expectations, for the Investigative, Enterprising, and Conventional areas.

These findings highlight the importance of perceived social status as a predictor of exposure to different types of career-related learning experiences that subsequently shape students' self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and (presumably) interests in particular RIASEC areas. Results are discussed in terms of exposure to career-related learning experiences in RIASEC domains with differing levels of prestige and implications of these results for developing interventions to enhance the learning experiences of students who report lower levels of perceived social status are presented.

Anthropologising the complexity of leadership: a holistic understanding of cross-cultural context

an article by Huiyan Fu published in International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management Volume 1 Number 4 (2011)


The topic of leadership is exciting with a mysterious undertone. It has long remained one of the most overanalysed, frantically debated, and yet frustratingly underspecified areas of research within management and organisational studies.

Using Japan as an example, this paper attempts to bring anthropological perspectives to bear on the unravelling of the leadership conundrum. Of great significance is the contextualisation of leadership in space and time; what it means to be leadership varies from nation/organisation to nation/organisation and changes over time.

Although the complex nature of context is now often invoked, confusion and chaos continue to abound. It is suggested that a holistic understanding of cross-cultural context, combined with commitment to empirically-based, qualitative methods, can serve as an alternative approach to clarifying the jumbled field of leadership research, as well as throwing fresh insights into practical application and future direction.

Dungeons and downloads: collecting tabletop fantasy role-playing games in the age of downloadable PDFs

an article by Dan Sich, (The D.B. Weldon Library, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada) published in Collection Building Volume 31 Issue 2 (2012)


This paper aims to provide libraries with collections advice regarding fantasy role-playing games.
Current and emerging publication and sales models of pencil and paper, tabletop fantasy role-playing games are explored. Details of print, print-on-demand, free and purchasable downloads, and subscription-based options for major fantasy role-playing games and alternatives are provided.
Many options are available to libraries wishing to provide support for fantasy role-playing game programming. While an overwhelming quantity of publications are often available for purchase, usually only a bare minimum is required to run a role-playing game. Free or modestly priced options are available for libraries on a shoestring budget. Libraries interested in supporting fantasy role-playing game programming with collections need not spend much. Spending less on collections requires a greater amount of imagination, socializing, creativity, collaboration and literacy on the part of program participants.
Many libraries are interested in supporting fantasy role-playing games with collections, but do not know where to start. While much is being written about gaming in libraries, little has been written to help libraries navigate current role-playing game book publication and sales models.

Textual data mining for industrial knowledge management and text classification: A business oriented approach

an article by N. Ur-Rahman and J.A. Harding (Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University, UK) published in Expert Systems with Applications Volume 39 Issue 5 (April 20120


Textual databases are useful sources of information and knowledge and if these are well utilised then issues related to future project management and product or service quality improvement may be resolved.

A large part of corporate information, approximately 80%, is available in textual data formats. Text Classification techniques are well known for managing on-line sources of digital documents.

The identification of key issues discussed within textual data and their classification into two different classes could help decision makers or knowledge workers to manage their future activities better. This research is relevant for most text based documents and is demonstrated on Post Project Reviews (PPRs) which are valuable source of information and knowledge.

The application of textual data mining techniques for discovering useful knowledge and classifying textual data into different classes is a relatively new area of research.

The research work presented in this paper is focused on the use of hybrid applications of text mining or textual data mining techniques to classify textual data into two different classes. The research applies clustering techniques at the first stage and Apriori Association Rule Mining at the second stage. The Apriori Association Rule of Mining is applied to generate Multiple Key Term Phrasal Knowledge Sequences (MKTPKS) which are later used for classification.

Additionally, studies were made to improve the classification accuracies of the classifiers i.e. C4.5, K-NN, Naïve Bayes and Support Vector Machines (SVMs). The classification accuracies were measured and the results compared with those of a single term based classification model. The methodology proposed could be used to analyse any free formatted textual data and in the current research it has been demonstrated on an industrial dataset consisting of Post Project Reviews (PPRs) collected from the construction industry. The data or information available in these reviews is codified in multiple different formats but in the current research scenario only free formatted text documents are examined.

Experiments showed that the performance of classifiers improved through adopting the proposed methodology.

Social support reciprocity and occupational self-efficacy beliefs during mothers’ organizational re-entry

an article by Dalit Jaeckel and Ulrich Orth (University of Basel, Switzerland), Christine P. Seiger (University of Zurich, Switzerland) and Bettina S. Wiese (University of Basel, University of Zurich and RWTH Aachen University, Germany) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


The present study assesses the effects of a lack of social support reciprocity at work on employees’ occupational self-efficacy beliefs.

We assume that the self-efficacy effects of received support and support reciprocity depend on the specific work context (e.g., phase in the process of organizational socialization). 297 women who returned to work after maternity leave participated at three measurement points (five weeks, eleven weeks, six months after re-entry).

We measured self-reported received and provided support as well as occupational self-efficacy beliefs.

Women who received a high amount but provided only little support at work (over-benefiting) reported lowered self-efficacy beliefs. As expected, this effect was not found at the beginning of re-entry, but only later, when over-benefiting began to be negatively related to recipients’ self-efficacy beliefs.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

Why My 80-Something, 60-Years-Married Parents Totally Rock (and what it has to do with sexual politics…) via Big Think by Pamela Haag
I’ve been grazing online, looking for a place to host my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. When I talk to event organizers at venues, you can hear them stop short, and take in their breath, in awe and admiration: “SIXTY years?!” they say.
Read More
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Only dalits handle waste disposal in India. Their ostracization is harsh, but their hold on the housecleaning market is absolute... more
Friday Fun: Let The Bullets Fly 2 via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you are a pistol carrying sharp-shooter with a mission to eliminate the legion of evil henchmen scattered across different locations. Do you have the skill and patience needed to defeat them?
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here or you can go straight to the game here
NB: I have not checked this as I do not like shooter games!
Dirty Minds: The Neurobiology of Love via Big Think by Megan Erickson
There’s a revolution going on in neuroscience, says science writer Kayt Sukel, and it’s happening on two fronts. One way the science is changing: researchers are finally beginning to include both male and female subjects in their studies. Another is epigenetics, a new way of understanding the centuries-old nature versus nurture debate.
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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Should philosophy ask questions but not give answers? “No. It can't be!” says Alain de Botton. “Civilization should transmit the best ideas”... more
Gene Sequencing: The New Blood Test? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Sequencing a patient’s genes may soon become as common as a blood test, say computer engineers working in the genetics industry. They cite several advances in computing such as industrial digital cameras which can capture fluorescent molecules used to “read” small small sequences of DNA.
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Beautiful Souls via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
The horrors of the twentieth century left artists and thinkers preoccupied with the problem of evil. How could Germans herd Jewish families into the gas chambers? How could Serbs turn on their Bosnian neighbours, or Hutus pick up machetes and carry out the bloody work of genocidaires?
In Beautiful Souls, Eyal Press takes on a different challenge, more suited to the twenty-first century: He suggests that the true mystery is not what impels ordinary people into the moral abyss, but rather how some people manage to avoid the abyss altogether, by refusing to participate in atrocities. For every horror, there are courageous, conscientious resisters: Germans who hid Jews, Hutus who saved Tutsis, Serbs who saved Muslims. Even the more quotidian forms of evil always generate some resistance: Consider the Enron scandal's whistle-blowers. But what enables some to resist while most go along? Beautiful Souls, Press writes, is about “nonconformists, about the mystery of what impels people to do something risky … when thrust into a morally compromising situation: stop, say no, resist.”
more from Rosa Brooks at Bookforum here.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The accursed poets. Name the malady, Baudelaire, Verlaine, or Rimbaud suffered from it: arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, syphilis. Each relished his own martyrdom, even flaunted it... more
How Well Does Your Brain Know You? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Determining how well the brain can judge its own behaviour is a tricky matter because it requires thinking about thinking – in other words, introspection. Dr. Steve Fleming of New York University has been designing experiments to measure the difference between what we think we know about ourselves and who we really are.
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Massive Asteroid Strike in 2040? via Big Think by Orion Jones
An asteroid discovered in January 2011 is plotting a course too close for comfort, say astronomers. The space rock 2011 AG5 was recently discussed before a scientific subcommittee of the UN and some scientists are urging discussion of a plan to alter the object’s trajectory.
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Saturday, 21 April 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

Secret Heroes [Who are yours?] via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by Pauline Fisk
I was sitting in a local coffeehouse when the background music struck up with a few immediately recognisable guitar notes, followed by Leonard Cohen's voice intoning Suzanne takes me down... Immediately a shiver ran down my spine, not because I loved the song so much, but because I'd been reading about Cohen in the Guardian [the Dorian Lynskey interview] and had just got to the bit about Suzanne when up she popped in Starbuck's music stream. Synchronicity, or what?
Continue reading here and move from Leonard Cohen to Hans Christian Andersen via some unlikely heroes.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The other Vitruvian Man. The image of a man inside a circle and a square was thought to be the work of Leonardo. But the genius had company... more
Does neuroscience deny free will? via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
I assume that right now, you are not following these words because there is a gun pointed at your head or you’ve been hypnotised. Until such time as a benign dictator makes reading the FT compulsory, it seems the most self-evident fact in the world that people who buy it do so of their own free will. Yet for centuries there have been those who have argued that “seems” is all there is to this feeling of freedom. Advances in neuroscience have given the free will deniers new impetus. The ace in the pack is the work of the late Benjamin Libet, which neuroscientist Sam Harris says in Free Will shows that “some moments before you are aware of what you will do next ... your brain has already determined what you will do. You then become conscious of this ‘decision’ and believe that you are in the process of making it.” For the likes of Harris, evidence like this shows that the absence of free will is now scientific fact, not philosophical theory. But as other new books on the same issue show, it’s far more complicated than that.
more from Julian Baggini at the FT here.
Another reason why real books will never die via Reading Copy Book Blog by Richard Davies
I give you a pictorial reason why real books will always have a place in my heart, and the hearts of many other folks.

Behold a 1904 edition of The Vicar of Wakefield published by J.M. Dent and Co in a full vellum binding produced by the master bookbinders, Chivers of Bath. You don't get this on an e-reader.
More pictures of this magnificent book here.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Prisons and profits. Is there any greater disconnect between public good and private interests than the rise of corporate-owned jails?... more
Museum of Thieves via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you are lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt where adventure and an evil force awaits. Can you find the differences in the museum’s strange, shifting rooms as you work your way through it or will the restless evil that dwells within escape?
As always the choice is yours: read Asian Angel’s walk-through here or dive straight in to the game here.
Oxygen Found on Saturn’s Moon. And Life? via Big Think by Orion Jones
NASA’s Cassini probe has detected a thin layer of oxygen in the atmosphere of Dione, one of Saturn’s moons. Since scientist believe there to be no life on Dione, the presence of oxygen is perhaps even more interesting.
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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Cremation is in, metal coffins are out. On the agenda: How to manage mass fatalities. Welcome to the National Funeral Directors Conference... more
Labors of the Months, 1400s via Retronaut by Chris
The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is a very richly decorated Book of Hours. It was painted sometime between 1412 and 1416 by the Limbourg brothers for their patron Jean, Duc de Berry. Featured here are the Labors of the Months, the section illustrating the various activities undertaken by the Duke’s court and his peasants according to the month of the year. Wikipedia
  • January: The Duke’s household exchanges New Year gifts - the Duke at right in a blue robe.
  • February: A typical winter's day. Some peasants warm themselves by the fire, another peasant chops wood, and still another goes to market.
  • March: Sowing the field. In the background is the Château de Lusignan, a residence of Jean de Berry.
  • April: A young couple exchanging rings. In the background is the Château de Dourdan.
  • May: Young nobles riding in a procession. In the background is the Hôtel de Neslé, the Duke’s Paris residence in Paris.
  • June: Harvest. In the background is the Palais de la Cité with the Sainte Chapelle clearly identifiable on the right.
  • July: The shearing of the sheep. In the background is the Palace of Poitiers near Poitiers.
  • September: The harvest of the grapes. In the background is the Château de Saumur.
  • August: Falconry, with the Duc’s Château d'Étampes in the background. [I know, but that’s the order the pictures are in!]
  • October: Tilling the field. In the background is the Louvre.
  • November: The autumn harvest of acorns, on which pigs are feeding.
  • December: A wild boar hunt. In the background is the Château de Vincennes.
Source: Public Domain Review
My choice for an image to show you is --- October for the sheer absurdity of French peasants in the 15th century wearing clothes in bright colours to till the fields. (Actually all the peasants shown look to be very well dressed.)

How Often Are Your Memories Incorrect? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Researchers in the UK have just completed one of the largest ever studies of human memory and preliminary results indicate our recall of even basic events is quite fallible. In the study, individuals were shown pairs of words like CUPCAKE and CARDBOARD.
Read More

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Toward an adaptive semantic search mechanism for the “Web of Things”

an article by Benoit Christophe, Vincent Verdot and Vincent Toubiana (Bell Labs Research, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, France) published in International Journal of Semantic Computing Volume 5 Issue 4 (2011)


With the proliferation of connected devices and the widespread adoption of the Web, ubiquitous computing success has recently been brought into the fashion of an emergent paradigm called the “Web of Things”, where Web-enabled objects are offered through interconnected smart spaces. While some predict a near future with billions of Web-enabled objects, the success of this vision now depends on the creation of efficient processes and the availability of tools enabling users or applications to find connected objects matching a set of requirements (and expectations).

We present an on-going work that aims to develop a search process dedicated to the “Web of Things” and that relies on three contributions.

Firstly, the creation and use of semantic profiles for connected objects.
Secondly, the establishment of similarities between semantic profiles of different connected objects to gather them into clusters.
Thirdly, the computation of a score associating a “context of search” to an incoming request and enabling the selection of the most appropriate search algorithms, involving either probabilistic or precise reasoning.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Risk, trust and eID: Exploring public perceptions of digital identity systems

an article by Ruth Halperin (Haifa University, Israel) and James Backhouse (LSE, Department of Management) published in First Monday Volume 17 Number 4 (April 2012)


This paper offers an account of the perceptions of citizens from the U.K. and Germany on the subject of interoperable electronic identity (eID) systems. It draws on a grounded empirical analysis identifying the risks that citizens associate with online identity management systems: information risk, economic risk and socio-political risk.

Our study suggests that the perceived risks derive from, and are amplified by, low trust beliefs in public authorities responsible for identity management. Three dimensions of trustworthiness in government were found – competence, integrity and benevolence – constructed from negative past experiences of IT failures, function creep, and political history of oppression.

To theorise our findings we propose a model depicting the relationships between trust, risk and behavioural intentions. Practical implications deriving from the study concern trust enhancement and risk reduction strategies aimed at winning public acceptance of eID systems in electronic services.

Relationship between work interference with family and parent-child interactive behavior: Can guilt help?

an article by Eunae Cho and Tammy D. Allen (University of South Florida, USA) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


Despite its theoretical and practical importance, behavioural consequences of work–family conflict that reside in the family domain rarely have been examined. Based on two studies, the current research investigated the relationship of work-interference-with-family (WIF) with parent-child interactive behavior (i.e., educational, recreational, and passive activities) using survey data from employed parents.

Furthermore, the moderating role of trait guilt on the focal relationships was examined.

Results were generally consistent across the two studies and supported the hypotheses: both time- and strain-based WIF were negatively associated with educational and recreational activities; trait guilt moderated these relationships such that the relationships were weaker for parents higher on trait guilt than for those lower on trait guilt.

By examining a family domain behavioral outcome of WIF and the constructive rather than dysfunctional role of guilt, the current research makes an important and novel contribution to the literature.

Facebook usage patterns and school attitudes

an article by Bernadett Koles and Peter Nagy, (Business School, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary) published in Multicultural Education & Technology Journal Volume 6 Issue 1 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore teenagers’ and young adults’ use of social networking sites (SNS), in light of certain personal, social and educational outcomes and attitudes.
Data were gathered on the basis of surveys, and were analyzed through a series of multivariate models.
It was found that participants’ reasons and motivations for online presence varied as a function of gender and age. Different degrees of Facebook usage were linked with different school-related attitudes. More specifically, more extensive usage was associated with more negative school and peer attitudes; more so for females and for college students. Furthermore, greater reliance on online interactions for social and emotional support was found disadvantageous for college students, while neutral or in some cases beneficial for high school students.
Research limitations/implications
Gender and educational level appear to be important factors explaining some of the variation in school-related attitudes, and thus should be explored separately.
Practical implications
The differential impact of online presence on school attitudes for college and high school students highlights the need for teachers and student advisors to be sensitive to such transitional groups.
Social implications
The authors found that more popular students, those often viewed as “opinion leaders”, tended to show more negative school outcomes than less popular students in general; a relevant point for organizations.
Facebook usage and school-related attitudes were observed simultaneously in high school and college populations studying in Budapest, Hungary.

Chasing graduate jobs?

Centre for Population Change Working Paper Number 16
by Irene Mosca (Trinity College Dublin) and Robert E Wright (University of Strathclyde and member of the ESRC Centre for Population Change)


This paper examines empirically the relationship between under-employment and migration amongst five cohorts of graduates of Scottish higher education institutions with micro-data collected by the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data indicate that there is a strong positive relationship between migration and graduate employment – those graduates who move after graduation from Scotland to the rest of the UK or abroad have a much higher rate of graduate employment.

Versions of probit regression are used to estimate migration and graduate employment equations in order to explore the nature of this relationship further. These equations confirm that there is a strong positive relationship between the probability of migrating and the probability of being in graduate employment even after other factors are controlled for. Instrumental variables estimation is used to examine the causal nature of the relationship by attempting to deal with the potential endogeneity of migration decisions.

Overall the analysis is consistent with the hypotheses that a sizeable fraction of higher education graduates are leaving Scotland for employment reasons. In turn this finding suggests the over-education/under-employment nexus is a serious problem in Scotland.

Full text (PDF 23pp)

JEL Classification I23, J24, J61, R23

Shifting shapes of Europe: A conversation with Gerard Delanty

via Eurozine

Gerard Delanty is one of Europe’s leading figures in the field of sociology whose work encompasses a variety of theoretical themes and subjects. The first of his numerous books, Inventing Europe: Idea, Identity, Reality (1995) was a significant, timely and challenging contribution to the European discourse. Almantas Samalavicius asks Delanty to revisit the ideas set forward in this thought-provoking, polemical work.

And you can read the result here.

The Short-Term Effects of Structural Reforms: An Empirical Analysis

an OECD Economics Department Working Paper (No 949) by Romain Bouis, Orsetta Causa, Lilas Demmou and Romain Duval (OECD, France) and Aleksandra Zdzienicka (University of Lyon and CEPII, Paris, France)


Drawing on new empirical analysis of 30 years of structural reforms across the OECD, this paper sheds light on the impact of reforms over time, identifies the horizon over which their full effects materialise, and investigates whether such effects vary with prevailing economic conditions and institutions.

Impulse responses of aggregate outcomes (GDP growth, employment rate) to various labour, product market and tax reforms are estimated at different horizons. This analysis indicates that the benefits from reforms typically take time to fully materialise. When significant effects are found in the short run, reforms seldom involve significant aggregate economic losses; on the contrary they often deliver some benefits.

The absence of major depressing effects does not lend support to the view that reforms should be in general accompanied by substantial macroeconomic policy easing in order to deliver some short-term gains.

Nevertheless, there is also tentative evidence that some labour market reforms (e.g. of unemployment benefit systems and job protection) pay off more quickly in good times than in bad times, and can even entail short-term losses in severely depressed economies.

JEL Classification:
E02, E21, E22, E24, E60, J21, J23, J38, J58, J68

Full text (PDF 62pp)

Gender Similarity or Gender Difference? Contemporary Women’s and Men’s Career Patterns

an article by Lona Whitmarsh and Diane Keyser Wentworth (Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ) published in The Career Development Quarterly Volume 60 Issue 1 (March 2012)


Career development research has often explored gender differences in, and development of, career patterns (Gottfredson, 2006). Hyde’s (2005) meta-analysis indicated that men and women shared more similarities than differences. Applying Hyde’s gender similarities hypothesis to careers, the authors conducted a 2-stage study.

Stage 1 was an analysis of career choices of couples (a socioeconomically and educationally advantaged group) announcing their wedding in the New York Times.

Stage 2 was a comparison of a New York Times wedding cohort with a cohort from 11 other U.S. newspapers, examining national trends and exploring generalizability of the findings from Stage 1 of the study.

Results revealed that there are shifting trends in career choices, most notably in the legal profession.

Hazel’s comment:
The article is actually more interesting than the abstract led me to believe it might be. If you have access to full text for this journal then it’s worth reading.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Re-moralising or De-moralising?

The Coalition Government’s approach to ‘problematic’ populations: Editorial

Kate Brown and Ruth Patrick (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds) published in People, Place and Policy Online Volume 6 Issue 1 (2012)

Bringing you an editorial from a journal (which is not always possible without sitting and copy-typing) presents me with a problem: editorials do not have abstracts so my usual copy and paste, tidy up the format and then post the result doesn't work.
I've got round it by copying the first couple of paragraphs and providing you with the URL for the HTML version. NOTE: The link to the PDF for this does not work.
The relationship between ‘morality’ and social policy has been a preoccupation of the Coalition Government in the UK since it came to power in May 2010. Social unrest has intensified this interest as well as playing a role in reinvigorating longstanding public debates on the ethics of social welfare. Speaking in the aftermath of the riots and looting which took place in August 2011, the Prime Minister framed the problems in terms of a crisis of moral standards: ‘some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged - sometimes even incentivised - by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally de-moralised’ (Cameron, 2011).

Full text (HTML)
Probably quite useful as it provides links to all the other articles in this issue.

And finally:
for the second time this week I am reminded of a quote from a work of fiction. “The Rivan Codex” by David and Leigh Eddings provides background information for both the Belgariad and the Mallorean fantasy novels and is probably best read after the other 12 books!
Anyway, to this quote:

When a philosopher delivered a formal remonstrance to Emperor Ran Borune XXII about the immorality of fomenting war and untold human suffering in Arendia simply for Tolnedran advantage, the Emperor replied blandly, ‘But this is politics, dear fellow, and has nothing to do with morality. One would always be wise to keep the two completely separate. Morality deals with what we might like to do, but politics deals with what we must do. There’s no connection between them at all.’

Unemployed Adults’ Career Thoughts, Career Self-Efficacy, and Interest: …

Any Similarity to College Students?

 an article by Emily Bullock-Yowell, Lindsay Andrews, Amy McConnell and Michael Campbell (Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi) published in Journal of Employment Counseling Volume 49 Issue 1 (March 2012)


Little empirical knowledge about unemployed adults exists during a time when this group needs substantial career assistance. Because there is greater empirical understanding of college student career development compared with what is known about unemployed adults, a chi square and analyses of covariance were used to compare the career thinking, self-efficacy, and interests of 169 unemployed adults seeking public job center assistance with that of 200 college students.

Additionally, a diverse sample of 2,444 unemployed adults is demographically reviewed. Unemployed adults reported a higher level of Realistic interests and similar levels of negative career thinking and career decision-making self-efficacy compared with college students.

A Faceted Taxonomy for Rating Student Bibliographies in an Online Information Literacy Game

an article by Chris Leeder, Karen Markey and Elizabeth Yakel (University of Michigan) published in College & Research Libraries Volume 73 Number 2 (March 2012)


This study measured the quality of student bibliographies through creation of a faceted taxonomy flexible and fine-grained enough to encompass the variety of online sources cited by today’s students. The taxonomy was developed via interviews with faculty, iterative refinement of categories and scoring, and testing on example student bibliographies. It was then applied to evaluate the final bibliographies created in BiblioBouts, an online social game created to teach undergraduates information literacy skills. The scores of players and nonplayers were compared and showed a positive impact from the game. Findings of the evaluations of these student bibliographies are discussed.

Is the Work Programme working for single parents?

An Analysis of the Experience of Single Parents Moving onto the Work Programme

a research paper by Laura Dewar (Senior Policy & Parliamentary Officer at Single Parent Action Network)

Summary (first two paragraphs)

The purpose of this analysis was to look at the experience of single parents moving onto the Work Programme. We wanted to see whether the people delivering the Work Programme were complying with the public sector equality duty in terms of considering the need to advance equality of opportunity for single parents in relation to their sex.

The vast majority of the 1.9 million single parents in Britain are women (9 out of 10) raising nearly 3 million children. For those that have job seeking requirements as a condition of their benefits (currently those whose youngest child is aged 7 or over) it is important that their needs as parents are taken into account so the jobs that they move into are sustainable for them and their family. There are safeguards in the welfare legislation that mean that single parents’ work preparation and job seeking requirements are different because they also need time to care for their children. In addition, like all public sector organisations, the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus (JCP) are subject to the public sector equality duty in s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 (see Appendix A). This means they must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and advance equality of opportunity in all that they do, which includes taking steps to meet the different needs of their customers who share a protected characteristic (in this case their sex).

Full text (PDF 25pp)

Ebook collection analysis: subject and publisher trends

an article by James Cory Tucker, (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) published in Collection Building Volume 31 Issue 2 (2012)


This paper aims to provide an assessment of an ebook collection in an academic library, and attempts to locate usage trends by subject and publisher.
The research was based on: three years of usage data from two e-book packages: NetLibrary and Ebrary; two methods of purchase: NetLibrary was a one-time purchase; Ebrary is purchased on a subscription basis. The research evaluated usage difference over time between the two packages and analysed subject and publisher usage.
The research found that Ebrary showed increased usage over time; NetLibrary demonstrated decreased usage; subject analysis showed ebooks in health sciences and hotel had highest usage; publisher analysis results illustrated the fact that five publishers had highest usage in both ebook collections.
Research limitations/implications
For circulation rate of each ebook package, two years of data were not available for Ebrary, resulting in incomplete comparison over three-year period between the two packages.
Practical implications
The paper assists in identifying usage patterns of ebooks across publishers and subjects; compares two different business models of obtaining ebooks; and helps with effective selection of ebooks to support teaching and learning.
Usage data over three years provided evidence to help libraries select a business model for acquiring ebooks; the research provides assessment of ebook collections to identify trends across publishers and subjects.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The family-relatedness of work decisions: …

A framework and agenda for theory and research

 an article by Jeffrey H. Greenhaus (Drexel University, USA) and Gary N. Powell (University of Connecticut, USA) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 80 Issue 2 (April 2012)


Due to global trends such as the increased labour force participation of women, the growing presence of dual-earner couples and single parents in the labour force, and changing values regarding the importance of life balance, individuals’ work decisions are being increasingly influenced by family considerations. However, the “family-relatedness” of work decisions, or the extent to which family situations are considered in these decisions, has not been systematically examined.

We propose a framework to examine the family-relatedness of work decisions and a broad agenda for future theory and research to test and extend the framework.

Labour market flows: Facts from the United Kingdom

an article by Pedro Gomes (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain) published in Labour Economics Volume 19 Issue 2 (April 2012)


This paper documents a number of facts about worker gross flows in the United Kingdom for the period between 1993 and 2010.
Using Labour Force Survey data, I examine the size and cyclicality of the flows and transition probabilities between employment, unemployment and inactivity, from several angles.
I examine aggregate conditional transition probabilities, job-to-job flows, employment separations by reason, flows between inactivity and the labour force and flows by education.
I decompose contributions of job-finding and job-separation rates to fluctuations in the unemployment rate.

Over the past cycle, the job-separation rate has been as relevant as the job-finding rate.

JEL classifications
E24; J60

Making the connection: …

The role of social and academic school experiences in students’ emotional engagement with school in post-secondary vocational education

 an article by Louise Elffers, Frans J. Oort and Sjoerd Karsten (University of Amsterdam, Research Institute Child Development and Education) published in Learning and Individual Differences Volume 22 Issue 2 (April 2012)


This study examines the emotional engagement with school of a diverse sample of 909 students in post-secondary vocational education in the Netherlands. Using multilevel regression analysis, we assess the role of students’ background characteristics and school experiences, and their interaction, in students’ emotional engagement with school.

At-risk students do not report lower levels of emotional engagement, except for students using (soft)drugs. While Dutch dropout prevention focuses on fostering a sense of belonging through enhancing teacher–student relationships, we do not find a significant role of perceived support from school staff in students’ sense of belonging. A good relationship with classmates is more important to engage students in post-secondary vocational education.

Perceiving an academic fit is most prominently related to the emotional engagement of vocational students, indicating that a sense of belonging should not only be defined in social, but also in academic terms.

The Presentation of Self in Letters of Application: A Mixed-Method Approach

an article by Emilia Soroko (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) published in Journal of Employment Counseling Volume 49 Issue 1 (March 2012)


The application letter, as the first phase of employment-seeking, is an opportunity for a job applicant to make a favourable impression on a potential employer. In the current study, the author used a mixed-method approach to empirically explore strategies for self-presentation in job application letters and determine the methods used in the letters and their lexical content.

An array of self-presentation strategies, both structural (relating to the formal aspect of the letters) and tactical (involving specific tactics or strategies), were identified and discussed. Job candidates’ self-evaluation strategies in application letters may contribute to a more accurate assessment of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies. The results suggest that lexical and meaning levels of analysis in letters of application should be treated as distinct.

Multilinguality in the digital library: A review

an article by Anne R. Diekema (Utah State University, Logan, USA) published in The Electronic Library Volume 30 Issue 2 (2012)


Together, increasing globalization and the internet created fertile grounds for the establishment of multilingual digital libraries. Providing cross-lingual access to materials is of particular interest to political entities such as the European Union, which currently has 23 official languages, but also to multinational companies and countries that have different languages represented among their citizens. The main objective of this paper is to review the literature on multilingual digital libraries and provide an overview of this area.
Based on a thorough literature search in four different databases, a core set of literature on multilingual digital libraries was retrieved. Literature on various aspects of this topic was reviewed. The paper is organized based on emerging themes directly drawn from the literature. Where warranted additional literature is brought in to provide necessary background information or clarification.
Creating a multilingual digital library is a highly complex undertaking and typically requires a collaborative effort between different organizations and people with different areas of expertise. Enabling users to search across languages requires translation resources to cross the language barrier, which can be challenging depending on the language and resource availability. Additional challenges were found to be in data management (localization and language processing), representation (dealing with different fonts and character codes), development (creating international software, cross-cultural collaboration), and interoperability (system architecture and data sharing). Research in multilingual digital libraries was mostly system based involving experimental systems or system prototypes.
Research limitations/implications
Most likely the literature review does not include all possible journal articles on multilingual digital libraries even though the literature searches done to obtain these articles were thorough and deliberate. Journal articles without the descriptors used in this search and those articles not indexed in the four different databases used in the search will not be included here. The review excludes cross-language information retrieval research unless it is directly related to existing multilingual digital libraries, or a connection to digital libraries in general is made in the paper itself.
This paper provides the first literature review on the topic of multilingual digital libraries and provides a concise overview of relevant aspects in this area. The number of multilingual digital libraries is growing, as is the interest from the research community in these libraries to apply their research findings from cross-language information retrieval. This review article provides a valuable entry point to the field of multilingual digital libraries for researchers, practitioners, and other interested parties.

Young people, welfare reform and social insecurity

an article by Margaret Melrose published in Youth and Policy Number 108 (March 2012)

This article traces the continuities between welfare reforms pursued under New Labour and those proposed by the Coalition government in the UK. It suggests that these reforms sought and continue to seek to discipline young people to accept low-paid, insecure work and unemployment and thereby entrench their poverty and disadvantage. The article argues that faced with this social and economic insecurity many young people may opt for informal opportunities in the shadow economy where they will become further dislocated from the socio-economic mainstream.

Full text (PDF 19pp)

Computer skills in the EU27 in figures

via Eurostat News releases
The increasing use of computers in the work place has led to computer literacy being a necessity in a large majority of professions. A sound understanding and knowledge of computer applications and programs is becoming more and more important in working life.
Release number 47/2012 (PDF 4pp)

Hazel’s comment:
I found this as useful for the references as for actual statistics.

Effects of e-mail addiction and interruptions on employees

an article by Laura Marulanda-Carter and Thomas W. Jackson (Department of Information Science, Loughborough University) published in Journal of Systems and Information Technology Volume 14 Issue 1 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of e-mail interruptions on tasks and to explore the concept of e-mail addiction within the workplace.
Data were collected from a large car rental company in the UK. The first collection method involved observing the effects of simulated e-mail interruptions on seven employees by measuring the interrupt handling time, the interrupt recovery time, and the additional time required to complete the task given the number of interruptions. The second part of the study involved a questionnaire sent to 100 employees to capture addictive characteristics in employees’ e-mail communication behaviour.
E-mail interruptions have a negative time impact upon employees and show that both interrupt handling and recovery time exist. A typical task takes one third longer than undertaking a task with no e-mail interruptions. The questionnaire data show clinical characteristics classify 12 per cent of e-mail addicts, and behavioural characteristics classify 15 per cent of e-mail addicts in the workplace.
Research limitations/implications
Observation was constrained by the timeframes and availability of the participating organisation. Measuring an employee receiving e-mail interruptions over a greater time period might achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the impact.
The small study is the first to determine the impact of e-mail interruptions on work tasks by observing employees, and to present a method to determine e-mail addiction. By understanding these factors, organisations can manage workflow strategies to improve employee efficiency and effectiveness.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

Fracking earthquakes via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: Earthquake damage - Bridge Street., a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from 23934380@N06's photostream
Human activities can cause earthquakes. It sounds a little crazy to say, but it’s something we’ve known about for a while. For instance, seismologists say that a 6.3 magnitude quake that struck India’s Maharashtra state in 1967 was directly caused by the 1963 construction of a major dam and reservoir project in that region.
Basically, fault lines exist. When we start messing with them – applying very heavy weights, taking very heavy weights away, or lubricating the fault line with various liquids – we can trigger movement. Usually, these are not large earthquakes. But they can be felt. And they are something we want to avoid.
Now, a study done by the Ohio State Department of Natural Resources has concluded that a series of small quakes in that state were directly caused by improper disposal of wastewater from a natural gas fracking operation.
Fracking, as a reminder, is a process of freeing up trapped natural gas by injecting liquid into the Earth. The force of the water cracks rocks so the gas can flow through. This is not the part of the process that’s been implicated in the Ohio earthquakes, however. Instead, it’s about what happens to that liquid once the fracking is done.
Fracking liquid is called “brine” and it’s often referred to as being water, but it’s actually water mixed with a lot of other stuff, some of it toxic. Waste water treatment plants aren’t set up to deal with this kind of contamination, so the standard way of disposing of this liquid is to pump it into the ground. In Ohio, regulators say, the site chosen for waste water disposal wasn’t vetted carefully enough. Instead of being geologically inert, it turned out to be the site of a fault line. The liquid lubricated the fault line and helped it move. The result: Earthquakes.
Now, according to the Associated Press, fracking operations disposing of wastewater in Ohio are going to have to follow much more stringent rules and provide a lot more geologic data to the regulators before they’ll be allowed to pump any more liquid into the ground. The report states that this process can be done safely. It just wasn't being done that way.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What happened to Caitlin Flanagan? The once-feisty contrarian who urged wives to nag less and put out more has turned painfully tame... more
The E-Reader of 1935 via Stephen’s Lighthouse

Read more from the Atlantic
Winston’s Hiccup via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
“I think I’ll write a book today,” the writer Georges Simenon was said to tell his wife at breakfast. “Fine,” she would reply, “but what will you do in the afternoon?”

Winston Churchill was similarly prolific, and not just in the field of letters.
continued at The Opinionater here (by Frank Jacobs).
Fascinating anecdotes about history.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
More Persian and Indian than Arab, The Arabian Nights is the stuff of Occidental fantasy. What explains Scheherazade’s enduring allure?... more
The (horribly awesome) things that live on Ball’s Pyramid via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Ball’s Pyramid looks like a place where nothing could survive. The remnants of a long-dead volcano, it sits alone in the South Pacific ... a narrow, rocky half-moon some 1,800 feet high.
But Ball's Pyramid isn't devoid of life ...
for years this place had a secret. At 225 feet above sea level, hanging on the rock surface, there is a small, spindly little bush, and under that bush, a few years ago, two climbers, working in the dark, found something totally improbable hiding in the soil below. How it got there, we still don't know.
What they found is horribly awesome and awesomely horrible and you need to read the whole story, written by NPR’s Robert Krulwich.
Ball's Pyramid in the Tasman sea is located 19 kilometers from Lord Howe Island east of Australia.
John White
Via Elizabeth Preston. If you want a hint, she described this as, “a really beautiful story about some really disgusting giant insects”.
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
On the internet, expertise is pooled, intelligence is collective, and discovery is being reinvented. Welcome to the era of open-source science... more
Is Emotion Smarter than Rationality? via Big Think by Orion Jones
The uncanny processing power of the subconscious has been brought into further light. A survey conducted at Columbia Business School, which asked people to make predictions about events ranging from a political election to American Idol results, found that emotional reactions proved more prophetic than steelier evaluations.
Read More
How Exercise Benefits Your Brain via Big Think by Orion Jones
Japanese scientists have just uncovered why exercising gives your brain such a powerful pick up. By examining the brains of animals on an exercise regimen, they saw that physical activity severely drains the energy resources that neurons need to fire, which doing so provide for functions like thought and memory.
Read More

Saturday, 14 April 2012

10 stories and links I think are educative, informative, entertaining, or weird

Radical chic? Yes we are! via Eurozine articles by Johan Frederik Hartle
Ever since Tom Wolfe in a 1970 essay coined the term “radical chic”, upper-class flirtation with radical causes has been ridiculed. But by separating aesthetics from politics Wolfe was actually more reactionary than the people he criticized, writes Johan Frederik Hartle.
Read more

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The liberated libido. In the West, a dalliance is no longer punished by death. The ideal of sexual freedom is powerful - but, unfortunately, far from universal... more
I’m only supposed to be checking that the link is good and that the story is interesting. Ten minutes later …

Earliest recorded music via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
The first ever audio recording we know of was made by Éduoard-Léon Scott in 1857. As Maggie has previously posted here, the recording device he invented, the phonautograph, etched sound waves to paper. They weren't intended to be “played back” and it wasn't until 2008 when researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used a scanner and “virtual stylus” to listen to the sounds inscribed on the paper. It was a recording of a tuning fork and someone, likely Scott, singing Au Clair de la Lune.
I listened to it over and over this morning and was trying to imagine a time when there was no recording, and every sound was temporary. That led me to what appears to be a fascinating book from 2009, titled Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music [] by Greg Milner. The opening paragraph is fantastic:
The story goes that, late in his life, Guglielmo Marconi had an epiphany. The godfather of radio technology decided that no sound ever dies. It just decays beyond the point that we can detect it with our ears. Any sound was forever recoverable, he believed, with the right device. His dream was to build one powerful enough to pick up Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.
For more about the Éduoard-Léon Scott project, visit

How do you tell if a mouse is depressed? via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: Mouse, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from iboy's photostream
Because there are some things you can’t ethically test on humans, human medical research involves animal models. Such models are useful and important. There is a lot we wouldn’t know – and a lot of people whose lives would be much worse &ndash if it weren’t for these animals.
That said, animals models are not perfect. Especially when it comes to relatively subjective problems like mental health. We test anti-depressants on mice. But how do you know whether it’s working? After all, the mouse can't tell you that it’s feeling better. And you can’t really watch what the mouse does and see behaviours directly relatable to the human experience of depression, either. (Does the mouse feel more like going to his job and interacting with his friends today?)
At Scientific American MindRobin Henig explains the three commonly used tests that give scientists a glimpse into the mouse psyche. These are flawed proxies. Given the very real questions about how effective anti-depressant drugs actually are, it’s worth putting some effort into developing better ways of monitoring their effectiveness in animals. But, for now, this is what we have to go on.
Forced swimming test. The rat or mouse is placed into a cylinder partially filled with water from which escape is difficult. The longer it swims, the more actively it is trying to escape; if it stops swimming, this cessation is interpreted as depressionlike behaviour, a kind of animal fatalism.
Find out about the other two tests at Scientific American Mind

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Stephen Hawking is brilliant. And his paralysis makes him a symbol of the unfettered mind. His real genius, however, is for self-promotion... more

Why I Froze My Eggs via Big Think by Leigh Gallagher
When Fortune magazine's assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher turned 38 she made the decision to freeze her eggs, an experience she recently wrote about on the women's website The Hairpin. In her recent Big Think interview, Gallagher discusses her decision as well as the bioethics and social implications involved in delaying parenthood.
Read More

Forza Cornwall! A Journey in Two Legs via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
Why travel all the way to Italy when you can visit a place much closer by that is shaped like Italy? That is the alluring ruse proposed by this poster, created in 1907 by Arthur Gunn for the Great Western Railway.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Attention, novelty junkies: New is not always improved. Ideas that succeed are those that stick around long enough to become old... more

Shoot the Aliens via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game aliens have slipped into town and stolen something from the local gun fighter, which sets off a quest for revenge. Are your shooting skills good enough to help the gun fighter defeat the aliens or will they sit back and laugh at your poor aim?
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here or you can go straight to the game here.

‘Traitor to the British working man’ via The National Archives blog by Audrey Collins
Census returns are full of useful information for genealogists, local historians and other researchers. But some of the most interesting entries are the ones where the householders supplied more information than was asked for, or made comments of some kind. …
Continue reading →

Friday, 13 April 2012

Unforeseen outcomes: Does poorly-resourced literacy tutoring reinforce apprentices’ low literacy?e

an article by Frank Sligo (Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand) published in Education + Training Volume 54 Issue 2/3 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges faced by tutors who were providing remedial literacy support to New Zealand apprentices.
As part of a wider, triangulated study of employers, tutors, apprentices, and industry training coordinators, the author undertook a qualitative analysis of ten in-depth interviews with apprentices’ literacy tutors.
It was found that three issues strongly affected what tutors could achieve for their students. First, tutors experienced substantial role ambiguity; second, apprentices were working in oral and experiential modes more than in print-literate modes; and third, tutors found they had to employ an instrumental approach to their teaching in response to the situation they encountered. For example, this often meant serving as a scribe for their student rather than being able to focus on building the apprentice’s print literacy.
Research limitations/implications
It is possible that the difficult situation faced by these literacy tutors may be replicated in similar situations where funding is insufficient to build competence in literacy.
Practical implications
The constraints on what the tutors could actually achieve within tight funding limits meant that most students, while on track to successfully complete their apprenticeship, still remained of low print literacy.
The study reveals how tutors’ instrumental approach ran counter to their traditional ethical stance associated with building empowered, competent citizens who could participate fully in their civic, social and economic settings. It also shows how this literacy support enhanced the apprentices’ confidence, yet they probably became further reinforced in their little-changed, oral work culture.

Out of sight, out of mind: the exploitation of migrant workers in 21st-century Britain

an article by Mick Wilkinson published in Journal of Poverty and Social Justice Volume 20 Number 1 (February 2012)


Over the past decade, a team at the University of Hull has undertaken four separate but linked research projects investigating the working and living conditions of migrant workers in the United Kingdom (UK). Those studies drew on the experiences of a broad range of service providers – national and local, statutory and voluntary – all of whom had regular interaction with vulnerable workers or their advocates, together with the testimonies of several hundred migrant workers who had themselves experienced or witnessed employment (and related accommodation) exploitation in gangmaster UK.

The findings, summarised here, are an indictment of British government indifference to the exploitation of the migrant workforce.

Migrant workers in context

This special issue of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice (20(1) 2012) “Migrant workers in the UK and Europe: Immigration, exploitation and policy change” starts with an editorial by Gary Craig (University of Durham) which sets out a short history of, and a context, for immigration into the UK (primarily, in historical terms, into England).

It has been calculated that more than a million have already immigrated, and not far from fifty thousand still come every year, nearly all of whom enter the industrial districts, especially the great cities, and there form the lowest class of the population. Thus there are 120,000 in London; in Manchester, 40,000; in Liverpool, 34,000; Bristol 24,000; Glasgow, 40,000; Edinburgh, 29,000 … these people having grown up almost without civilisation, accustomed from youth to every sort of privation, rough, intemperate, and improvident, bring all their brutal habits with them among a class of the English population which has, in truth, little inducement to cultivate education and morality.
Thus Engles in 1844 about “the Irish”.

Despite, however, having experienced 2,000 years of immigration it seems that many of today’s politicians and, let it be said, many “ordinary people” seem determined to assume that migrants undermine the native economy. This journal sets out, through commissioned papers, to show that this is not the case.

The editorial has been made freely available on the IngentaConnect platform (PDF 8pp)

Hazel’s comment:
This journal never makes for comfortable reading for anyone with a social conscience. This particular one seemed more disturbing than usual if only because it introduces the realities of living standards which that those of us with a roof over our heads and food on the table every day cannot easily comprehend. At least, I can’t.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Good practice in secondary school careers programs: A case study of the approach of one inner city school

an article by Robyn Broadbent, Marcelle Cacciattolo and Theo Papadopoulos (Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia) published in Education + Training Volume 54 Issue 2/3 (2012)


Career programmes within secondary school curriculum can impact on a young person's sense of direction and meaning in life. The purpose of this paper is to report on an evaluation that was conducted in 2009 of the careers programmes in one secondary college in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
The research team utilised a multi-method approach collecting 273 surveys and undertaking both focus groups and interviews, ensuring the voices of young people were at the centre of the work.
Innovative careers and transition programmes create opportunities for young people to plan for their future. Similarly the absence of established careers programmes can compound the disadvantage that some students experience. The findings evidence how important it is for schools to support inclusive classrooms that enable young people to make informed decisions about their career pathways.
Research limitations/implications
The research findings were used to form a model of good practice and highlight the transformational impact of career and transition programmes for young people. The current research explores student knowledge, confidence, attitudes and perceptions while they are still at school. A longitudinal study, tracking these same young people as they progress to tertiary education and/or employment, would enable more definitive evidence on actual transitions and the actual outcomes experienced by young people.
This paper is of value to the education sector as it looks to respond to the need to develop a more seamless approach to young people making successful transitions to further education and/or employment.

Adopting organisation learning theory in the classroom: advancing learning through the use of blogging and self-reflection

an article by Margee Hume published in International Journal of Learning and Change Volume 6 Number 1/2 (2012)


An examination of current literature found a rudimentary number of papers canvassing the role of online blogging in advancing student learning. This paper evaluates the use of online student blogs to increase learning outcomes for the lecturer and the student and offers an original approach to this important topic.

The paper examines students over four years including six semesters and their responses to the use of blogs and discussion boards as a key part of learning and reflection.

The paper adopts the classroom and the organisation and looks at how the blogging process moves students from a single-loop learning process to double-loop learning and reflection and enhances the learning and reflection for the educator. The paper adopts an organisational learning approach and demonstrates an increased student satisfaction as measured by student evaluations and increased self-reflection on content specific knowledge, improved individual learning and overall classroom learning.

Is it time to challenge the north/south divide debate? …

Inequality knows no compass points

 CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) bulletin No 90 by Neil McInroy, Chief Executive, and Matthew Jackson, Head of Research, CLES


This paper began at a recent seminar, looking at the future of the northern economy. Sitting, listening and debating, we were struck, by how similar the debate was to seminars we had attended for ten years previously – the north ‘lacked investment’, it was ‘hard done by’, the south east ‘got it all’; we needed a new northern focus. However, we couldn’t help thinking that this narrative was imprecise, as there are parts of the north doing really well and parts of the south doing really badly; there were also huge divisions in northern cities.

We left the seminar with a sense that sometimes the ability or inability to tackle longstanding social and economic issues is bound up with how we think and frame the problem; therefore, whilst it is orthodox and standard to talk of a poorer north and a more affluent south, it struck us that perhaps it may help if we had a reset and started a policy discussion which replaced this imprecise north south narrative, with something which was more in tune with inequality and divides which stretch across and within all of England. After all, whether you are in Hartlepool or Hastings, inequality knows no compass points.

This paper merely seeks to vent a sense that overly focusing on a north south divide might be hindering progressive thinking on inequality and poverty. In doing so, this paper does not deny that north/south divisions exist; however it tries to expose some of the problems inherent in this dominant narrative and, in turn, seeks to downplay its policy importance. In its place, this paper highlights the growing inequality and divisions between the haves and have nots across all corners of the UK, and suggests how a new robust localism and commitment to a redistributive centralism could address the growing divides.

Full text (PDF 7pp)

Online news on Twitter: Newspapers’ social media adoption and their online readership

an article by Sounman Hong (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA) published in Information Economics and Policy Volume 24 Issue 1 (March 2012)


Many news organizations have recognized the potential of social media as a journalistic tool and have used social media marketing to attract online audiences. The aim of this study is to understand the implications of news organizations’ adoption of social media sites through:
  1. an examination of the relationship between news organizations’ adoption of social media and their online readership and 
  2. a comparison of online traffic generated by social media sites with that generated by other online media institutions.
Evidence suggests that newspapers’ adoption of social media is positively associated with an increase in their online readership, and this association increases in the size of the newspapers’ social media networks (e.g., number of Twitter followers).

Evidence also suggests that the association between newspapers’ social media adoption and their online traffic may differ compared to the association between other online media institutions and the online traffic they generated.

A descriptive analysis shows that the online traffic generated by social media sites is less concentrated than that generated by search engines or news aggregators; this can be explained by the fact that social media sites might be less susceptible to information cascades, compared to search engines or news aggregators.

JEL classification
D80; D83; L82; L86

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Predicting career advancement with structural equation modelling

an article by Ronald Heimler, Stuart Rosenberg and Elsa-Sofia Morote published in Education + Training Volume 54 Issue 2/3 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to use the authors’ prior findings concerning basic employability skills in order to determine which skills best predict career advancement potential.
Utilizing survey responses of human resource managers, the employability skills showing the largest relationships to career advancement were used in a regression analysis. The regression results generated structural equation models.
According to human resource managers, leadership skills and information technology skills needed for job performance were shown to be significant contributors to recent graduates’ career advancement potential. Work ethic and critical thinking skills were found to be closely linked with leadership skills. Additionally, management skills, leadership skills, and basic literacy and numeracy skills received from recent graduates by their employers were found to be the strongest predictors of graduates’ career advancement potential.
Research limitations/implications
The research study was limited to graduates, faculty, and recruiters at a business school in southern California. Further studies can determine whether differences in attitudes from those found in this study might exist.
Practical implications
It is important that students develop basic employability skills prior to entering the workforce, since remedial training on the job could impede career advancement.
Social implications
Those graduates who show deficiencies in the skills that are viewed by employers to be predictors of advancement are likely to experience difficulties with career growth.
The first part of this study utilized a triangular approach to survey three distinct groups of respondents – graduates, the faculty who taught them, and the human resource managers who recruited them – concerning their attitudes toward basic employability skills. In this second part of the study, the novelty utilized was structural equation modelling, which highlighted those skills that are most critical to career advancement.

A new term-weighting scheme for naïve Bayes text categorization

an article by Marcelo Mendoza (Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Santiago, Chile) published in International Journal of Web Information Systems Volume 8 Issue 1 (2012)


Automatic text categorization has applications in several domains, for example e-mail spam detection, sexual content filtering, directory maintenance, and focused crawling, among others. Most information retrieval systems contain several components which use text categorization methods. One of the first text categorization methods was designed using a naïve Bayes representation of the text. Currently, a number of variations of naïve Bayes have been discussed. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate naïve Bayes approaches on text categorization introducing new competitive extensions to previous approaches.
The paper focuses on introducing a new Bayesian text categorization method based on an extension of the naïve Bayes approach. Some modifications to document representations are introduced based on the well-known BM25 text information retrieval method. The performance of the method is compared to several extensions of naïve Bayes using benchmark datasets designed for this purpose. The method is compared also to training-based methods such as support vector machines and logistic regression.
The proposed text categorizer outperforms state-of-the-art methods without introducing new computational costs. It also achieves performance results very similar to more complex methods based on criterion function optimization as support vector machines or logistic regression.
Practical implications
The proposed method scales well regarding the size of the collection involved. The presented results demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of the approach.
The paper introduces a novel naïve Bayes text categorization approach based on the well-known BM25 information retrieval model, which offers a set of good properties for this problem.