The new semester at the University of Kentucky starts on Monday, and I am flailing to try to get my data science course ready to go—including putting together an open, alternative textbook for my students. I’ve been borrowing heavily from Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s Data Feminism for my textbook: It’s a fantastic resource, and I’m hoping my students take a lot from it.
Of course, my kid’s semester has already started, and I’ve already blogged a bunch about my frustrations with her new school’s use of ClassDojo this year.
J’aime beaucoup la radio numérique, surtout parce que j’ai la possibilité d’écouter des chaînes radio francophones. Parmi mes chaînes préférées se trouve DKL Dreyeckland, une chaîne alsatienne. J’aime bien la musique, mais ce que j’aime surtout, ce sont les pubs. Normalement, je supporte pas la publicité dans mes médias, mais je fais une exception pour les pubs en français, parce que ça me permet d’apprendre un langage que je n’ai jamais appris dans un cours lycéen ou universitaire.
Twelve years ago, I spent a summer in Geneva completing an internship at the NGO Geneva Call ( « Appel de Genève » ). Being the bookworm that I am, I naturally grabbed a few books to bring with me. I know that I read through Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar that summer—I had just started using Ubuntu and was wildly (over)optimistic about the ideals of open source.
I’ve been blogging about ClassDojo enough over the past few weeks that I think it’s time for a quick recap before sharing some of the latest developments. I heard about ClassDojo being used schoolwide back in late July and started wondering what approach I should take as both a student’s parent and an edtech researcher. On Monday of this week, I talked to kiddo’s teacher about it and wrote up some thoughts the next day about teachers’ diminished agency in the realm of edtech.
I really will get back to blogging on other subjects sometime soon, but here’s an email I just sent to kiddo’s principal raising some concerns I have going into the school year. I’m not sure what will come of this—and I’m not at all sure this was the right email to write—but in the off-chance it’s helpful for someone, I thought I’d post about it here.
Dear Principal [so-and-so],
Last night, my spouse and I took kiddo to her new school to find her classroom, officially meet her teacher, and all that fun stuff. While we were there, we got confirmation of what we’d heard earlier: ClassDojo is going to be used in all classrooms this year as part of a school-wide initiative. It was helpful to talk to kiddo’s teacher about this. She understood my concerns, she had her own trepidations about being required to use ClassDojo, and she honestly wasn’t sure how she was going to bring it into the classroom.
Kiddo starts at a new school on Wednesday, and I’ve been putting off signing the Acceptable Use Policy and Chromebook Policy because I want to read them carefully. I don’t know how much I can do about anything that I’m really concerned with, but I’m a tech researcher when I’m not being kiddo’s dad, so I feel an obligation to be informed and raise a fuss when something is fussworthy.
I haven’t attended the Latter-day Saint congregation I officially belong to since March of 2020, and I’m coming up on one year of being an official member of Community of Christ. It’s pretty clear to me—and, likely, to others—where my religious future is headed.
Yet, I’ve always expected that I would remain a de jure—if not de facto—member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even if it’s not the right spiritual home for me or my family any more, and even if I have major disagreements with it, this church has been an important part of my life, and I’ve always wanted to preserve that by retaining my official membership.
Two of my major projects for the summer have been updating my website and submitting my tenure dossier for consideration. One specific thing I’ve been meaning to do at the intersection of these two projects has been to include a modified research statement on my website as well as a list of my publications along with links to PDFs for all of my research, ensuring that it remains accessible to everyone.
This week and last, I’ve been reading up on Mormons’ commitment to both the language of the King James Version (Philip Barlow’s Mormons and the Bible is a fantastic read) and what is seen as the authoritative text of the Book of Mormon. In Paul Gutjahr’s The Book of Mormon: A Biography, he quotes the official Latter-day Saint Scripture Translation Manual as including the following guidelines for translators of the Book of Mormon:
Nearly a year ago, a friend gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation as a gift for my confirmation into Community of Christ. It (obviously) took me a while to start it, and it’s taking me some time to read through it, but there’s a lot in there that I like. This afternoon, this passage stood out to me:
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.
This summer has been a good one for getting back into tabletop roleplaying. I played a lot of the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPG in middle and high school and have been spending most of my life since then wishing that I were still that involved with RPGs. I’ve compensated some by listening to actual play podcast: Total Party Kill rotates through several great D&D campaigns, the original Fantasy Flight Star Wars run of Campaign is so good that I’m listening to it a second time, and Penny Arcade’s Tales from the Loop campaign blew my mind when I listened to it a few months ago.
The past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about a memory from my junior year of college. It was the end of a semester, and on top of all of my own finals, I was teaching FREN 102 for the first time, so my end-of-semester was busier than it had been in previous years. I don’t remember all of this busy time, but I do remember specific parts of taking my online FREN 362 (French Civilization II) final while sitting in the office shared by instructors from the Department of French and Italian and the Department of Scandinavian Studies.
Kiddo starts at a new school this year, so we got the chance to all go as a family today and get introduced to everything. Kiddo got to meet teachers and other kids while we filed into a meeting to fill out a ton of paperwork and learn about how this school does things. For years, I’ve been wondering when my research in educational technology (and, increasingly, critical research on social technologies more broadly) were going to become relevant as a parent with a kid in school, and it looks like it’s going to be this year.
When I was growing up, our family had a three-VHS set of the original Wallace and Gromit shorts, and while “Wallace and Gromit fan” was never at the forefront of my identity, I have always loved The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. Naturally, things that I loved as a kid are near the top of my list of things to introduce to kiddo. I showed them to her a couple of years ago—probably near the beginning of the pandemic—but she had no memory of them, so this weekend, I had the pleasure of reintroducing her to the series.
J’ai déjà écrit cette semaine sur mon amour pour Dijon, et c’est peut-être pour ça qu’un souvenir précis me vient à l’esprit ce matin.
Quand je vivais à Dijon, je n’avais pas d’ordinateur et ce n’était pas encore l’âge de l’ordiphone. J’allais donc chez un cybercafé toutes les semaines pour écrire des courriels à ma famille et à des amis. Le cybercafé que je fréquentais s’appellait Cyberbisey, justement parce que c’était un cybercafé sur la rue Berbisey (ce n’était qu’après plusieurs semaines que j’ai compris la blague).
One of the highlights of the summer has been getting an article accepted in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. This article takes as a starting point Cragun and Nielsen’s argument (also published in Dialogue) that:
what is really at play in the debate over the use of “Mormon” is legitimacy.
Cragun and Nielsen are writing in 2009, at a time when Big Love is on the air and the April 2008 FLDS Temple raid is (or was recently) on the news.
Over the past several months, the University of Kentucky has been pushing us to set up profiles on a new research analytics platform. The platform looks… fine, but I’ve been irritated with some of how the platform works and curious why UK is so keen on having us fill out our profiles. It’s felt from the beginning like this is something more for UK’s benefit than for our individual benefits as faculty.
Ça fait quelques années que mon frère regarde la chaîne YouTube Not Just Bikes, qui parle des vélos, des transports publics, et de l’infrastructure qui les soutient (où pas). Il m’en parle assez souvent, mais ce n’est que récemment que j’ai enfin décidé de regarder quelques vidéos. Vu mon amour pour les sujets abordés dans les vidéos (les vélos, les transports publics, l’Europe), ça m’étonne que je n’ai pas découvert cette chaîne avant.
Over the past several months, I’ve been slowly working my way through Mark Scherer’s three-volume The Journey of a People, the most recent quasi-official history of Community of Christ. The first volume was interesting, since it covered an era of Mormon history that I’m familiar with from a perspective that I’m not familiar with. I found the second volume a bit harder to get through—some individual sections were fascinating, but it seemed to lack an overall throughline or narrative.
When I was in college, I ran into a friend on my way to a professor’s office hours. He saw that I had a copy of Superman for All Seasons with me and gave me a hard time about it—he was much more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan (these were the days when this was primarily a reference to comics, not sprawling cinematic universes) and just didn’t get the appeal of Superman—how could you do anything interesting with a character that powerful?
I just barely microblogged something about what I want to say here, but over the past hour, it’s been nagging at me more and more, and I want to write some more about it.
I was introduced to academia through educational technology, and I was introduced to educational technology through a class at BYU taught by David Wiley. This class was not about educational technology, but David’s passion for Web 2.
When I made the decision to join Community of Christ, it wasn’t (just) because this was a denomination that aligned with my current religious and social values, but because I knew it would be a denomination that pushed me to improve my current religious and social values. I know that I have room to grow in being a better person and in making the world a better place, and I felt that Community of Christ is a denomination that would not only show me grace for who I was but also walk with me as I tried to grow in these ways.
I’m not going to link to it, but I am fascinated by a recent post on the Gab blog where Andrew Torba announced some new features to help Gab users push back against research on the platform. Not only do I have two or three ongoing projects using Gab data (one is in the very, very early stages and—ironically—uses Gab blog posts), but some of what Torba wrote also aligned with some of the (fortunately mild) trolling my co-author, Amy Chapman, and I have experienced because of my work on the far-right-influenced DezNat hashtag in Mormon Twitter.
One recurring question that I’ve had while working on my “rereading the Book of Mormon” project is asking what should be understood by the common phrase “the Lord” in the text of this book of scripture. In Bible translations, this is a bit more straightforward: “the Lord” is often used as a euphemism for the divine name YHWH and could be read in that way. Before going any further with this discussion, I want to acknowledge that my writing out and speculating on the divine name here may (or will likely) be seen as disrespectful or offensive by many Jews (and even some Christians—I admire Wil Gafney’s approach to the divine name).
My unit (the School of Information Science) at the University of Kentucky teaches all of the composition and communication courses for the College of Communication and Information, and I just received word this morning that we’re hiring a full-time lecturer for these courses. I feel conflicted about the existence of the lecturer position at UK, but I can say with some fconfidence that lecturers are valued, respected members of the SIS faculty.
Whenever I book travel for work, I pull up the Amtrak website to see if it would be in any way practical to add a rail component to the trip to replace flying (or driving, but it’s rare that I drive for work travel). Given the state of American rail, this is most often an exercise in disappointment. My only success story in four years at this job was when I attended a conference in Bordeaux; I flew into Paris and then took a low-cost OuiGo TGV for my trips between Paris and Bordeaux.
A couple of weekends ago, I had my first experience with a Community of Christ Reunion camp. Kiddo and I only stayed for a long weekend rather than the whole week, but it was still a great experience. By far the best experience I had at Reunion was a Monday morning class for young adults and “90s kids” (which is not a label I’ve ever actively applied to myself, but it fit just fine.
Shortly after last week’s mostly-successful experiment with Hypothesis, I noticed Chris Aldrich posting to Micro.blog about the software and started up a conversation. I’d followed Chris a few weeks before in trying to get more into Micro.blog (perhaps my favorite indie social media platform out there, though I’m also enjoying getting into Mastodon) by following academia and academia-adjacent folks, and was pleased to see an area of common interest.
It wasn’t until a separate conversation on Mastodon this morning that I remembered that my Hypothesis setup was dependent on my manually checking annotations on my website.
The title of this post is a bit misleading. My wife and I aren’t really big on “Parent’s Day” celebrations: Years of Latter-day Saint “all women are mothers” (read: motherhood is the most important part of womanhood) Sunday services grated on us during our years of infertility, and even now that we are parents (and aren’t practicing Latter-day Saints—though my current denomination certainly isn’t immune from a cringeworthy celebration of parents either), it’s just not a thing we do.
A few months ago, during a weekend where my family was out of town, I binge watched both seasons of « Au service de la France », a hilarious spy comedy available on Netflix. One of the running gags of the series is the (fictional) French secret service’s obsession with bureaucracy. So, for example, when the service suspects a mole in its midst, one of the responses is to make sure that every piece of paperwork is signed multiple times before being stamped twice.
I’m happy to report that a paper of mine (in collaboration with David E. Williams at the University of Saskatchewan) has just been published in The Internet and Higher Education. We topic modeled 77,514 tweets from 59 academically-themed but anonymous or pseudonymous Twitter accounts. This resulted in five broad topics, and we followed up with a qualitative analysis of the 100 most-representative tweets from each of those topics to generate some narrower codes.
As I’ve been working on updating this website and revamping my web presence over the course of the summer, one of the items on my to-do list has been to add a commenting feature to the website. I love Hugo, but the absence of any in-built commenting feature is definitely a downside. I’ve looked over various Hugo-compatible commenting systems, but I honestly don’t know how much commenting activity I’ll see, and I’ve been hesitant to pay a third-party platform to do all of this for me.
A few weeks ago, John Hamer (from the Toronto-based Beyond the Walls inclusive online congregation of Community of Christ) reached out to ask if I would be interested in contributing a pre-recorded prayer to a June 12th “millennial prayer service” focused on Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles. The denomination describes its Enduring Principles as follows:
Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.
Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving for 3ish days of camping with kiddo. This is the first time that I’ve gone camping for well over a decade, and I’m a bit nervous, even though I’ve got lots of (rusty) Scouting experience to draw on and even though we’re also going to be staying in a cabin at a semi-structured church camp. Probably not too much to worry about in terms of camping.
Ce weekend, j’ai regardé une émission sur la ligne ferroviaire Lausanne-Échallens-Bercher qui m’a beaucoup plu:
Quand j’ai vécu à Renens pendant quelques mois, c’était toujours un plaisir de voir passer une rame du LEB en me promenant sur l’Avenue d’Échallens. Je n’ai jamais eu l’occasion de voyager sur cette ligne, mais j’ai fort envie de retourner dans le Vaud pour l’essayer. Regarder des vidéos comme celle-ci (ou bien des vidéos « en cabine » qui montre les gares différentes ainsi que le paysage vaudois) me donne une nostalgie profonde pour le temps que j’ai passé tout près du LEB.
A few weeks ago, I posted about Book of Mormon dependence on the King James Version and the way that that sometimes raises interesting questions about how the text should be understood. As I continue my project of what a modern-language version of the Book of Mormon might look like, I’ve run into another example.
1 Corinthians 15:55 is referenced three times in the Book of Mormon, including in Mosiah 8 (Mosiah 16 LDS), where I’m currently working my way through the text.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been putting a lot of work into adjusting my online presence, a project that I expect to last through most of the summer. In dividing my website into distinct subareas and pivoting from a single Twitter account to a number of Mastodon accounts, I’m trying to do something about the context collapse that’s been keeping me from sharing some of the big things going on in my life lately.
I don’t know how many folks are subscribed to this blog via RSS, but if you are, chances are that you subscribed out of an interest in my professional writing. I’m making some big changes to the blog in part to give me the freedom to start writing on some other topics as well. You’ve probably seen some of these posts already, but I want to make it clear that it’s going to continue.
Today, I heard from a student that I had a couple of semesters ago asking for a letter of recommendation for a master’s program. I only had the student in one class, his attendance was spotty, and I didn’t have a lot of sustained interactions with him, so I am questioning whether I would be the best letter writer for him. However, while I said as much to the student in my reply, I also told him that despite all of that, I would still be willing to write him a letter.
Thanks to a recommendation from BoingBoing, I just finished reading a Business Insider article describing a recent video in which Marjorie Taylor Greene:
predicted that identifying as heterosexual will be a thing of the past within a period of less than 200 years thanks to LGBTQ-inclusive sex educators, who she called “trans terrorists.”
More specifically, Greene was quoted as saying that heterosexual extinction would come about “probably in about four or five generations.
Like in many PhD programs, my comprehensive exams included an element that was intended to help me prepare for my dissertation proposal, dissertation, and dissertation defense. Building off of my research interests and experiences up to that point, my advisor wrote me a lengthy question asking me to define and describe simulation games—the intent, of course, being that at least some of this could be worked into a literature review for a dissertation.
I got word that a recent publication of mine was now published in an issue of Learning, Media, and Technology. It has actually been available online first for the past ten months, but since I haven’t been good about blogging about recent publications, I figured this was as good a chance as any to write a post about it. This piece is called “Lifting the Veil on TeachersPayTeachers.com: An Investigation of Educational Marketplace Offerings and Downloads” and is a collaboration with Catharyn Shelton,Matt Koehler, and Jeff Carpenter.
One of the most interesting parts of teaching information communication technology classes despite not being formally trained in that field is picking up terms and concepts that I never learned as part of my degrees. One of the most interesting concepts I’ve picked up along the way is the formal distinction between digital and analog phenomena. I often use clocks or thermometers as examples of this in class: Analog phenomena can take on any number of values within certain bounds, whereas digital phenomena are limited to discrete values within those bounds.
Last week, I was interviewed by a reporter at WEKU about social media and content moderation in the context of the horrific recent shooting in Buffalo, and I was pleased to see the interview appear on the WEKU website this morning.
I wish that the headline didn’t frame this as a question of “free speech”—and that I’d perhaps been more forceful in emphasizing that these really aren’t questions of free speech so much as content moderation.
It’s a bit of a truism to say that the Book of Mormon is dependent on Biblical language, but one thing that’s been on my mind for the past few years (especially since reading Thomas Wayment’s excellent The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints) is how specifically dependent it is on the particular language of the King James Version of the Bible.
Over the past year or so, as a personal project, I’ve been toying around with what a modern-language version of the Book of Mormon would look like.
Since April, I’ve gotten sucked into the Slow Horses British spy series after really enjoying the Apple TV+ adaptation. I’ve been powering through all the full-length novels and am now reading 2021’s Slough House, which features a character who’s survived a bullet wound to the head. Her description stood out to me for one particular detail, though:
Her hair was different. Maybe that’s what death does to you. I twas still mostly red but now punkishly short, with a white stripe across her left temple where the bullet had passed…
I’ve been a big fan of audio-only media for a big chunk of my life. I grew up listening to NPR radio shows like Car Talk and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on Saturdays while my dad drove us around to do errands. TV wasn’t allowed in my family on Sundays, but the NPR Sunday Puzzle was—depending on what time church was that year, we’d listen to it on our way to Sunday meetings.
Last week, I got the chance to chat with Salt Lake Tribune religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack about Latter-day Saint missionaries use of social media videos, and I was pleased to see the article published on Sunday. I hadn’t been paying attention to online missionary videos, but the subject fit nicely with the reading I’ve been doing on platform and platform values recently:
Both kinds of accounts “are drawing from the internet/influencer cultures of these platforms,” [Greenhalgh] says.
This passage about the anti-Semitic Dreyfus Affair (from a book I’m reading on the French Third Republic) is coming to mind today:
Long before the end of the Affaire, as the French called it, the question of the guilt of Dreyfus became almost lost in the melee, giving way to a fundamental conflict over the very moral concepts of French society which cast its shadow over the Third Republic from then on to the end.
Pour le 6 janvier, Urban Federer, l’abbé d’Ensiedeln (Suisse), écrit au sujet de « la peur d’être perdant » de Hérode et Saül, qui a inspiré « une jalousie, laquelle les a poussés a la haine meurtrière ». C’est un message pour l’Épiphanie pour tous les temps et tous les lieux, mais ça fait bizarre de le lire en particulier aux États-Unis ce 6 janvier 2021.
Missing teaching French today for a few reasons. First, my first time teaching FREN 102 began ten years ago this month 😱. Second, my kid insisted this morning on pronouncing “sept, huit” as “sept, tweet,” and even though that’s not really liaison, it’s close enough that I could have used it in a lesson. Third, this is the time of year where I could have shown Gad Elmaleh’s great “Happy new year!
I once had a neighbor who argued that because it had higher fidelity, 3-D was the future of cinema. To prove his point, he asked “who would prefer an audio adaptation to a video one?” and was surprised when I, a big radio fan, raised my hand. To be honest, I don’t know that I’d prefer radio to TV/cinema in every instance, but I believe firmly that it’s more about how you use a medium than it is about what medium you use.
I have five months left in my twelve-month planner, which naturally means I’m already thinking about my next one. I’m only half-joking. I spent a lot of time last summer setting up productivity systems, and this semester is showing their weak spots. Eager to revisit.