While preparing to submit my dissertation for committee review (and eventual defense), out comes some news and analysis that paints a sobering picture for anyone interested in a life of academe.
A new book indicts the system of higher education in the United States for failing to prepare many students for the rigors of modern adult life. Grade inflation is up, undergraduate studying is down – to an average of 12-14 hours a week.
Specifically called out as a pressing dilemma is an apparent systemic failure to impart critical thinking skills to college students. Associated commentary from the Chronicle of Higher Education puts a finer point on that: Continue reading “College: Too Easy?”
A week ago I got a small jolt when I opened my mailbox to find a letter with a return address titled “ABOUT.COM LAWSUIT.” After opening it, though, it tripped me down memory lane.
DIYmedia.net is a direct outgrowth of a project I began, literally, as a second-income (for pocket change). That was my stint as Pirate/Free Radio “Guide” for a firm called the Mining Company. This was 1996: the Interwebs was just catching fire, and search engines generally sucked.
The Mining Company’s business model was to hire “Guides” to oversee websites on specific topics. Guide duties included writing one feature story a week on their assigned subject and maintaining a well-organized links library (to outdo the search engine), for which we were paid a modest monthly stipend. Continue reading “About Time”
…I decided to remove the store-section of this web site. For years I have affiliated with alternative or independent retailers of books and music, but nobody really bit, partially because e-commerce on this site is somewhat antithetical to its nature; it’s really a labor of love. (Even so, many thanks to those who do occasionally throw a buck or few my way via the donate button).
Apologies to those who had linked to my book reviews; perhaps those will be resurrected in the future. Continue reading “Just in Time for the Holidays…”
I know that one of the prime adages of the media reform movement goes something like that if your first issue-of-interest is not “fixing the media,” then it should be your second. Can that sometimes work the other way around? With respect to recent developments in the auto industry, I would argue yes.
Since 1997, the year I started writing online, I’ve been the (somewhat) proud owner of a Saturn SC2. Not the most perfectly-built car (at least it looks fast). I just flipped the 108,000 mile-mark on it this weekend; I drove it off the lot with just 215. It’s the first and, perhaps, the only brand-new car I’ll ever own. Now, General Motors has gone into bankruptcy, and as a part of this move it’s spun Saturn off to a third party (so at least I’ll still get parts and service). That’s nice. It’s the rest of GM I worry about. Continue reading “GM Loses A Potential Customer”
Yes, Grandma, you may very well be right. Seriously, though: while the previous link is to a parody, check how many views it’s gotten. Now compare that to the number of overall viewers that were exposed to the NASCAR “DTV Transition Ford” which, in its four glorious races as-sponsored by the FCC, finished at best in 27th. Crashes aside, was this ‘lil stunt really an outreach effort worth $350,000 of taxpayer money? Granny’s probably more done to elevate DTV in the public mind than the FCC has so far – with a homemade video that clocks in at under two minutes. Continue reading “"Is This My New TV?"”
It’s that time of the semester when my teaching duties kick into high-gear. This fall, I’ve got 33 students in an introduction to the political economy of the media class (which is right up my alley, and I had loads of fun teaching it last spring). Each of them are now busy researching and writing 10-page papers on a media policy issue of their choice. I’m spending long days in the office doing paper-counseling sessions as well as the necessary work for class-prep itself. In addition, I’ve got some deadlines looming to submit paper-abstracts for a communication research conference.
As a result, I’ll be shortly suspending multi-weekly news-updates to concentrate on getting the legacy projects of the site back up to currency. In the meantime, outside of the instances when I simply can’t help myself from bloviating, I strongly suggest that (if you aren’t already) you supplement your info-diet with a subscription to either the Benton Foundation’s Communications-Related Headlines newsletter or Free Press’ Media Reform Daily. Both are free; they’re also required reading for my students.
It should come as no surprise that my experience as a Comcast broadband subscriber is matching up with many others: extra-sh*tty. Comcast has been flogged extensively elsewhere about its draconian “bandwidth management” techniques – throttling some traffic, blocking others, and now testing new technologies in preparation for implementing this non-neutral network management practice nationwide. And Comcast is not alone in this trend.
My problem with Comcast, however, has had nothing to do with BitTorrent, Skype, Gnutella, or Lotus Notes. It has everything to do with the most important application for which I use the Internet – e-mail.
The problem began a couple of months ago, when those of us in Champaign-Urbana began to be assimilated into the larger Comcast network-borg. I expected an increase in intermittent service outages, but I did not expect my e-mail to stop coming in. But it did, and after two months of sleuthing with Comcast’s evasive and mostly-impotent technical support, I think I have figured out the problem. Continue reading “Comcastic Adventures: Spiking Your E-Mail”
It’s been a long, difficult academic year, but it was successful: I’m now all-but-dissertation and have given myself two years to complete the research I came here to do. Over the next week I’ll update the legacy projects on this site, and hopefully over the month I’ll get back into the swing of regular analysis.
I have learned some important lessons this year. Continue reading “(Not Quite) Back From the Dead”
A much-needed break: preliminary exams, teaching new classes, and a wonderful vacation. I’m still struggling to make the transition from “relaxed” to “busy,” though I never really did get away from the latter.
Long story short, “regular” updates to resume in September.
Interesting stories abound in the news about the world’s largest broadcast/outdoor advertising/live music venue conglomerate entertaining the idea of going private, possibly selling itself out to a “vulture capitalist” firm.
Clear Channel’s official line on the buyout talks is that it seeks to “enhance shareholder value,” which is an eloquent way of saying there’s greed at play, and the typical sources of funding aren’t working out so well anymore. Continue reading “Clear Channel: For Sale?”