Nice Marmot: Blogging like it’s 1999.
Later: Dr Vornov says, “With our symbolic tools of language that abstract the maps into notes, conversations and blog posts, we can get out of our heads and team up with other minds to improve the usefulness of our internal maps, even to the point of knowing things that are beyond any ability to experience.”
This post has been simmering in the back of my head as I’ve been running around town today, and I wanted to expand on it. I think of how fellow bloggers, my readers and others have shaped my perception of reality, my interpretation of events, my interpretations of groups of facts over the years. It’s been invaluable. However, after near fifteen years of blogging, I have to face my own … sluggishness? … to change the mental maps of late. I wasn’t so slow to change in ’99. Today? Glacial by comparison. Is it age? Is it exposure to poor quality articles? Is it comfort in an attractive rut? Is it a reflection of the knee-jerk post-9/11 fear-and-panic in our culture? I know it’s not media-driven - I don’t watch television! Not even Jon Stewart (though he served me drinks at City Gardens in Trenton eons ago). That seems to shock people.
I circle back to something the Barrett boys [Cam and Damien] underlined for me. Weblogs are best when they’re about stories. A good story is from the heart, from the soul. “I lived this.” A good story changes my mental map, because it is a convincing direct experience I can feel. It’s the direct experience I don’t have, but when I hear it from a person I trust, it bends my opinion to the bloggers’ experience. My mental map extends beyond my direct ken.
Why are today’s stories not changing my maps? Why are stories less compelling than they were? I think it’s because there’s a difference between a fellow blogger, posting as a virtual friend, and a stranger posting a story to Medium or other venue. Stories are told at an arm’s length now - even worse, when they’re on sites with no comment areas. There is no interaction. And historical storytelling has always been about adjustments for the audience as the story is being acted out. I think of the famous photo, the elder at the bonfire, spinning out stories to the next generations, animated look on his face. Our old blogger-banter served that need for interaction - that banter, that back-and-forth is largely gone today.
I suppose that’s why I mourn for the ‘old days’ of blogging. And I make a mental note (scribbled on my mental map margin) to tell more stories.
Daily Kos: Germany offers free college tuition to U.S. and international students.
Wow. Totally great. And I was just cracking open a Goethe again - and preparing for the next Presidential season by reading Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Zeit für mich zu lernen Deutsch. Thanks, Craig.
Nautilus: Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense.
“We are provided with so much activity from so many overlapping and interacting relationships between words that we do not notice the jags and hiccups, nor our own proficiency in accommodating for them.” A jester of words and rhythm.
Vox: ‘Grit’ might be more important than IQ. Now schools need to learn to teach it.
SciAm/Nature: Manure Fertilizer Increases Antibiotic Resistance.
“Perhaps we’ve been enriching inadvertently for bugs that could eventually jump across agriculture to hospitals. [snip] Before we say anything about ‘nitrogen treatment is terrible and organic is wonderful’, we need to see what the downsides are.”
AndrewGelman: Are Ivy League schools overrated?
Um ... it’s more than just the good-old-boys network. Ivy League schools are tribal.
Archaeology News Network: New dinosaur from New Mexico has relatives in Alberta.
“The horns on the back of the skull are thick and curve downwards, and the snout has a mixture of flat and bumpy scales—an unusual feature for an ankylosaurid.” No doubt the snout was caused by the enormous amounts of prehistoric green chile eaten ... (joking, just joking) ...
Archaeology News Network: Amphipolis ‘Caryatids’ hint Olympias may lie within.
Archaeology News Network: Fourth chamber may hold key to Amphipolis riddle.
BBC: Why grammar pedants miss the point.
Personally, I simply want to be able to understand what I’m reading. Spelling and grammar have a minimum-acceptable level, IMHO. If someone’s in a rush, I’ll forgive mistakes. News agencies with editorial and proofing staffs ... I’ll be ruthless.
Guardian.UK: Deciding who should pay to publish peer-reviewed scientific research.
“But how can these [open-access] journals survive? They do that by charging the author. Fees range anywhere from $100–$1000 or so.” So, as we continue to argue our points, we need to be careful to source the journals we’re pulling studies from. I promise to try to link the originating journal’s source docs when I pull a study from now on.
ISAW Papers: “The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism.”
This is a couple of years old, but since the mechanism is in the news these days, I thought it might enlighten some who didn’t take the time to skim through it.
Archaeology News Network: Massive 5,000 yr old stone structure found in Israel.
Guardian.UK: Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change.
Stop it (again). I deal with so many clients overseas now, I find myself constantly apologizing for media-reported American idiocies.
Archaeology News Network: Third chamber at Amphipolis tomb deemed unstable.
Includes a diagram of the tomb, as excavated. I wonder if they couldn’t also remove the overburden above the tomb, to reduce the weight.
Crux: Photos from inside the Vatican Secret Archives.
PS Mag: For-Profit Colleges Are Equivalent to High School.
“Community colleges, in other words, open just as many doors to possibility as for-profit ones.” Not surprised. Talked to one for-profit grad who ‘majored in Powerpoint’. Yeah! That holds up well against this.
Archaeology News Network: Video footage of Amphipolis tomb from the air.
Not on the scale of the pyramids, certainly, but still impressive.
Past Horizons: Roman wooden toilet seat found at Vindolanda.
“Now we need to find the toilet that went with it as Roman loos are fascinating places to excavate – their drains often contain astonishing artefacts. Let’s face it, if you drop something down a Roman latrine you are unlikely to attempt to fish it out unless you are pretty brave or foolhardy.” I have to ask, who’s the poor sod who has to fish it out of the very-well-ripened bog? I mean, look at that photo. Eeee-yuck. I’d wear noseplugs.
Archaeology News Network: Monarch butterflies plummet 90 percent, need protection.
I’ve not seen one in at least five years. We used to have a couple dozen sail through and drink at puddles.
Archaeology News Network: Inside the antechamber of the Amphipolis tomb.
“The hole in the decorated wall and signs of forced entry outside the huge barrel-vaulted sculpture are of concern to scientists and indicate that the tomb may have been plundered long ago.” Drats. ‘Course, it depends on what ancients thought was valuable (precious metals, likely) ... treasures may still be found.
OpenCulture: The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Now Completely
Hyperallergic: Cultural Destruction by Islamic State Continues with No End in Sight.
The opening GIF animation pretty much says it all.
Archaeology News Network: Amphipolis tomb entrance gradually revealed.
More and more tantalizing. Read the comment, also.
NPR Interview: Benedict Carey, Author Of ‘How We Learn’.
Uh-huh. As I’ve mentioned copiously over the years, the ancient Greeks walked their students around while teaching. Seeing as how so much of ancient Greek knowledge is still kicking around, I think that proves out the theory of benefit.