Beware online “filter bubbles”

There are few people nowadays in the world that do not know what internet, social media and search engines are. In addition to those who argue that some of these engines or making us stupid, some believe that these engines “filter” the information provided to us and do not give us the access to all data and info. Here is an interesting talk by Eli Pariser on TED.


Sharing Cambridge Ideas

Cambridge Nights is a very interesting site that tries to “share bits and pieces of Cambridge with the rest   of the world” by interviewing the distinguished professors of different fields in universities within Cambridge, MA.

The very latest one is an interview with Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School who talks about education, migration and development.

Why We Need Journal of Failures?

We had this discussion in class that it is benefiicial to have a jounral that publishes the failures in research which will be very useful from many different perspectives. One perspective  that I mentioned was that with publishing failures plagiarism and misconduct may decrease. I searched through the website to find such journal but I was’nt successful. instead I found a blog that recommended such journal. I have exactly phrased the reasoning in that blog since it was exactly another perspective and positive sides of having such journals that I wanted to mention:

“Imagine if every experimental loose end was captured, categorized, and tagged in an efficient manner so that any person following a similar path in the future could actually have a legitimate shot at learning something from the mistakes of others.  It would be kind of like a Nature Methods protocol, but actually including all of the ways things can go wrong.  Authors could even establish credibility by describing whycertain conditions didn’t work (a very uncommon practice among scientists).  We might have to develop some technological tools that automatically pull and classify data as researchers collect it, making it a simple “tag and publish” task for the researcher.  And people could reference your findings in the future, providing you with even more valuable street cred for the entire body of work you have developed (not just the sparse successes).”

Is College Worth It?

While working on the scholarly essay on the value of higher education I found that the debates on if the college education worth the cost and time is significantly increasing.  There are many blog postings and writing on this topic and one was published just today on yahoo!  This is also a nice infographic by Times on whether the college worth its cost or not. In general the ideas are mixed. Some believe that the return on higher education are even more that return associated with stocks. Others believe that the difference in wage as a result of higher education does not worth the time and cost.

Tips on how to find a good mentor

I found the following notes on how to find a good mentor. I think this also gives hints on how to be a good mentor from a different perspective. In other words it shows what type of mentors the students look for.

The tips are summarized as follows:

Ask yourself what you want in a mentor or sponsor
Check your employer’s human resources department to see if they have a mentoring program
Look outside the office
Do an Advanced People Search on LinkedIn
Consider a mentor younger than you
Practice your “Why Me” speech
Steer clear of the formal request
Show them how to help
Make it fun
Do something for them
Be a mentor

Faculty Duties and How to Get There?

Kennedy 1997, described faculty duties in the following categories: 1) Teach, 2) mentor, 3) serve the university, 4) discover, 5) publish, 6)tell the truth, 7) reach beyond the walls, 7) To change.

As we argued these duties are interdependent and are sometimes natural outcomes of each others. For instance, a discovery by a faculty is a great service and significant change to university reputation. In almost all cases it will be automatically accompanied with publications and outreach.

I think almost all duties associate with research and teaching can be classified into more general, yet in depth tasks for faculties:

–   Producing knowledge, science, idea, thought

–   Educating people who can continue this production process in the future

How we get there?

Following this science production approach, requires the universities to perhaps review their vision towards research and education, and their expectation from faculties. University should allow and encourage faculties to conduct long-term, well-planned, high impact research studies and be patient enough for the results. Distinguished universities often have such vision and in fact they have gained their reputation based on their fundamental and remarkable contributions to science and knowledge.  Such approach will put universities in a positive reinforcing loop where cutting edge research and knowledge production adds to their reputation with which they continue to conduct fundamental research.  They are not in hurry! Perhaps they gradually accumulate the contributions to the field and make it significant over the years!

I will write more on this topic.