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Academic Paydom

Tactical lessons from the Steven Salaita situation

For those of you who don’t follow university labor politics, Inside Higher Ed reported this week that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign apparently rescinded a job offer for a tenured professorship in Native American Studies to Steven G. Salaita, a Virginia Tech English professor. Well, not exactly rescinded. Rather, the UIUC chancellor decided not to advance Salaita’s appointment through a usually pro-forma approval process.… read more

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The Opposite of Good Fortune is Bad Fortune

Is 'adjunct activism' the only path to labor reform in higher ed?

At Chronicle Vitae, full-time adjunct professor Lori Harrison-Kahan writes “Blaming the Victim: Ladder Faculty and the Lack of Adjunct Activism”. The piece addresses tenured faculty’s apparent (or at least relative) silence in the ongoing debate over adjunct labor in higher education. Harrison-Kahan rejoins such faculty for failing to extend their ongoing defenses of marginalized communities to their own community: Why… read more

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My Phone is Dying

On elderly iPhones

Everyone knows that iPhones are manufactured with planned obsolescence built in: processors and RAM allocations that can’t keep up with operating system upgrades purposely designed not to account for earlier models. Apple makes too much of its profits from hardware sales, so handsets have become akin to fashion seasons. Hardware upgrades entail power and capacity. The new activities made possible… read more

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The Clumsiest Way to Exercise Imagination

or, Garry Winogrand was wrong

Some time ago, I posted this fantastic quote about the difference between photography and other kinds of creativity, by the famous street photographer Garry Winogrand: Still photography is the clumsiest way to exercise imagination, to illustrate literary ideas. Anybody with a pencil beats you. Period. To take a simple illustration of the point: if you wanted a melted watch, how… read more

Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Chiles, &c.

A Mexican Food Index to Alien Phenomenology

Here’s a complete list of all mentions of Mexican food in my book Alien Phenomenology, or What it’s Like To Be A Thing: They cover plates of enchiladas as shrubs cover the hundreds of square miles of their high desert home. (3) Tumbling in vented steel cylinders, chiles crackle over the open flame of roasting. (3) Reality is reaffirmed, and… read more

For Adults Who Want to Feel Good About Themselves

My daughter on Goldieblox

The toy start-up Goldieblox has been in the news this week thanks to an ugly public fight over fair use and right of publicity with the Beastie Boys (they’ve since relented). But the company first gained public attention over a year ago when they first launched the Kickstarter for “an engineering toy for girls.” Back when the crowdfunding campaign launched,… read more

A Slow Year Now Available as a Digital Download

DRM free for Windows and Mac. Get it at the Humble Store or via Storybundle.

In 2010 I released a game called A Slow Year. It was a strange game on many levels: made for the Atari VCS, and dubbed “game poems,” and composed as a kind of chapbook. The game was a finalist in the Nuovo category at the 2010 Independent Game Festival, and it won the Vanguard and Virtuoso awards at Indiecade 2010.… read more

Let’s Get Real Estate Listings

Perfectly adequate home in decent area. Architecturally coherent, after a fashion. Updated, insofar as it was once renovated, probably in the 1970s or 1990s, but in a manner that did more harm than good. Features rooms, hallways, ceilings, and other details unremarkable in a structure meant to be a residence. The home is situated on a plot of land of… read more

“Things Could Be Different”

A response to Kevin Werbach on MOOC "rock stars"

Kevin Werbach, a Wharton professor who has been teaching a MOOC on gamification (I know, my two favorite tastes together at last!), has written a Chronicle post decrying the use of the “rock star” moniker for MOOC profs. “The rock-star meme implies that teaching is all about performance,” says Werbach. Of course, it’s possible that the rock star metaphor works… read more

On the Manifesto for a Ludic Century

My full response to Eric Zimmerman

The game designer Eric Zimmerman just published a “Manifesto for the Ludic Century,” and several folks were invited to write responses to it, including me. You should click through and read both of those links because this post won’t make any sense if you don’t. When you do, you’ll notice that Heather Chaplin commented “I don’t know exactly what he’s… read more