Grumpy and Grumpier

I apparently am a member of Generation Grumpy, or those, at least in its original designation as Grumpy Middle, born between 1962 and 1971, and didn’t even know it.

Those of us between 45-54, according to the Chicago Tribune editorial writers, have had “a remarkable mix of boom and bust, pleasure and pain” throughout our adult lives, including multiple recessions (e.g., the 1980 and 1982 double recession) and crashes (e.g., the 1987 stock market collapse), as well as have experienced the effects of globalization and the internet. Moreover, our gains, such as record stock market growth, have been limited by lingering losses, such as years or weak economic and wage growth.

Continue reading “Grumpy and Grumpier”


“Technologies are constituted by unique affordances, but the development and expression of those affordances are shaped by the institutional logics in which technologies are designed, implemented, and used. This is, after all, the origin of the hack. Hacking intends to liberate affordances from the institutional logics in which they are frozen and redistribute them in alternative configurations for new purposes.” (Zuboff 2015, 85)

Zuboff, Shoshana. 2015. “Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization.” Journal of Information Technology 30: 75-89.

Hidden Pleasures

Scott (2016)A. O. Scott (2016) promises more with the title of his new book Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth — than he provides in its pages.

I was intrigued near the end when Scott explores the relationship between criticism and scholarship. I’ve long wondered about the usefulness of studying literature in schools where, at least in my experience, teachers too often ruin the experience for students.  Continue reading “Hidden Pleasures”

Communicating and Conversing

reclaiming (turkle 2015)I often use digital tools, advocate for their relevance to the humanities, and experiment with them in my classrooms.

These technologies can facilitate communication and cooperation that Robert Wright (2000) suggests are preconditions for social organization and cultural evolution. Continue reading “Communicating and Conversing”

Privacy Today

Both Hillary Clinton and former University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise have been criticized for using personal email accounts for public business, which raises some intriguing issues about twenty-first century privacy.

Although Clinton’s intentions are perhaps less explicit, Wise’s seem to have included a desire to maintain confidentiality even though the official university position had been that personal accounts, when used for university business, are still subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. These regulations in Illinois have nothing explicit about personal email accounts, but a 2012 state appellate ruling upheld an attorney general opinion that FOIA does apply to personal devices and machines in instances of official business.  Continue reading “Privacy Today”