Academia Still Isn’t So Bad

On Terran Lane's "On Leaving Academia"

Over the last day or so, many of my Facebook friends have been posting UNM CS professor Terran Lane’s reflections on leaving academia for a job at Google. It’s worth a read, and raises some very valid points about the troubles with academia—pay, funding, job security, incentives, isolationism, work/life balance and so forth. But I also find the piece fairly… read more Finders Fees

Is this ethical?

Yesterday I received the following email from, a social network for academics to share research papers. Hi Ian, We noticed that you are following the Computer Science research interest on We wanted to mention that we are hiring software engineers at, and if you know any current or former students who might be interested, we offer a… read more


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

What You Can Get is What You Can Negotiate

Advice for negotiating academic jobs. And maybe others too.

Apropos of nothing, some advice for my academic friends who do or may have to negotiate a faculty position, either on the giving or receiving side. It probably applies well beyond academia, but I see the same disappointments year after year in the university. So much dissatisfaction among newly hired junior faculty (and the chairs who have to manage them)… read more


Object Lessons

An essay and book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things

Object Lessons is a series of concise, affordable, beautifully designed books and of smart, short essays based around singular objects and the lessons they hold. Books are published and distributed worldwide by Bloomsbury, and essays are published at The Atlantic. You can also keep up with Object Lessons on Twitter and on Facebook. At around 25,000 words, each book starts… read more

The Cost of Fees

Would I be doing what I do now had I been subject to today's University of California graduate tuition and fees? Probably not.

My graduate school experience was unusual, at least for someone pursuing a humanities PhD. While I did teach some, for much of the time I was in grad school I was also working in the technology and entertainment industries. In part this is because I was an immovable ass who wasn’t willing to give up my interests in computing in… read more

Ritual and Fashion

Žižek on "radical" academics

This excerpt from a 2008 article by Slavoj Žižek has been sitting in my notebook for a while, and I thought I’d post it. My personal experience is that practically all of the “radical” academics silently count on the long-term stability of the American capitalist model, with the secure tenured position as their ultimate professional goal (a surprising number of… read more

Speaking of Fees…

The facile scourge of paid speaking

Writing for Esquire, Stephen Marche writes about The real problem with Niall Ferguson’s letter to the 1%, which amounts to “paid speaking gigs.” Here’s the money quote: Ferguson’s critics have simply misunderstood for whom Ferguson was writing that piece. They imagine that he is working as a professor or as a journalist, and that his standards slipped below those of… read more

A New Philosophy for the 21st Century

Briggle and Frodeman in the Chronicle

Adam Briggle and Robert Frodeman have written an excellent article for the Chronicle, A New Philosophy for the 21st Century. A stupid subscription is required, frustratingly, so let me excerpt some of the good bits for you here [update: here’s a PDF]: It is time to reclaim the public role of philosophy. This does not mean rejecting rigor. By venturing… read more

How to Do Things With Videogames

How to Do Things with Videogames

A fresh look at computer games as a mature mass medium with unlimited potential for cultural transformation.

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon In recent years, computer games have moved from the margins of popular culture to its center. Reviews of new games and profiles of game designers now regularly appear in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and sales figures for games are reported alongside those of books,… read more