17 Mar 2021

What I'm Reading #4

The latest in an approximately monthly series of posts on what I've been reading.

Books

84K

This is the first book I've read by Claire North, and I found it astonishingly good. It is a tale of a dystopian United Kingdom where a price is literally put on people's lives. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more books by the author.

The Abstainer

This was a highly rated book from Ian McGuire, with rave reviews ('The Wire by gaslight'). The first 2 thirds of the book were enjoyable, but the ending was very anti-climatic. As a result, I found it only a so-so read - not so much watching 'The Wire' but more like suffering a rather humdrum episode of NCIS.

Articles

Exiting the Vampire Castle

Mark Fisher's classic take on the infighting and policing that takes place in left-wing social media.

Unionist Identity in Ireland

An in-depth analysis of unionist identity from Choyaa.

Demystifying SEO with experiments

An interesting article from the Pinterest Engineering team on how to experiment with search engine optimisation (SEO) at scale.

What’s the point of a lecturer?

A provoking article on the future of Higher Education and lecturing in universities from Terence Eden. I'm not personally entirely convinced that online learning is the paancea that he thinks it is - the research so far suggests that online learning results in poorer engagement with students, and worse outcomes for disadvantaged students. Blended learning, as proposed by Terence, seems to have similar outcomes to traditional lecturing, but most EdTech seems focussed on online learning only, as this appears to offer the greatest cost savings for institutions (though the evidence for this seems sketchy at best). In the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and a year of enforced online learning, it will be interesting to see what effect it has on current students, and what their opinion of it is. I susoect it will be like my opinion of working from home - that it is highly overrated.

Electronics and the Dim Future of the University

Courtesy of John Naughton's recent column on Universities and the upheavals in Higher Education due to the pandemic, I read this prescient article (from 1995!) on the future of the University in an online world. We are certainly seeing universities being forced to consider what exactly they are for at the moment.

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