Sunday, 25 August 2013

So many links, so little time

I don't make enough time to share some thought on this blog. Weeks rush by with meetings, classes and late night reading of students' chapters 2 and 3 (they want to submit dissertations in November!). I do however have a few things to share.

The first came too late for my ESSA papers. Branco Malanovic (@BrancoMilan) tweeted a nice disclaimer that I could have used: All calculations are preliminary. All regressions are suggestive and show correlations, do not imply causation. And then he went on: Conclusions are provisory & not endorsed by the authors. Actually, the paper does not exist and was never written.

I have speculated a fair bit about why we need to upload full papers for this year's conference. I does not seem like they will be reviewed. Is there an oversupply of papers? Is the programme overbooked? Are the organisers prepared to turn away colleagues who have paid the registration fee and then have empty slots in the programme, or will they reorganise it into a shorter conference? Is the idea that having full papers available can give attendees a better idea of what they want to listen to before arriving in Bloem? I can see why full papers are required at something like CSAE, but I am underestimating ESSA? Could the whole thing be part of someone's research into papers and publications in SA economics and we are now part of the sample?

But anyway, other interesting links include this one to the Top 200 influential Economics blogs. There are some fun choices of names. By the way, Marginal Revolution blog celebrated 10 years this week. Someone congratulated Cowen and Tabarrok for blogging like they have never heard of opportunity cost!

On the subject of social media, David Roberts had a good post about why he is taking a year off from Grist. Burning out in the blogosphere is a real danger: "I spend each day responding to an incoming torrent of tweets and emails. I file, I bookmark, I link, I forward, I snark and snark and snark. All day long".

Finally, I found a nice MOOC article: MOOCs and beyond: The revolution to come. It gives a good summary of the brief history of MOOCs, the main players, the issues in the US. It makes a number of good points about the nature of this sea-change or revolution:

In the first instance, it is helpful to see this change not just as a new technology for delivering teaching to large numbers of students. It is really more a wider set of socio-technological changes that might be better explained within a theory of postindustrial education focusing on social media as the new culture.
And it goes on to explain:
Social media differ from industrial media: social media are based on "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content" (Kaplan & Haelein, 2010). In this sense then, MOOCs might be seen as a form of industrially scaled automation of the teaching function that uses Internet platforms to deliver content globally. MOOCs are based on the traditional one-to-many broadcast principle rather than the many-to-many, horizontal peer-learning structures. The question is to what extent massively large online classes permit or encourage peer learning or interaction.
Towards the end there is an interesting characterisation of MOOCs: as a type of marketing, as a financial policy for higher education, as an academic labour policy, as a speculative financial instrument, as an expression of Silicon Valley values, or as kind of entertainment media. It is worth reading the whole thing.


  1. Waldo, I'm with you on the ESSA papers.

    I've always thought about ESSA as an opportunity for the broader SA economics community to come together. It is also an opportunity for less experienced researchers to present work to an audience they would not ordinarily engage with. Uploading a paper adds a cost but little benefit and thus may be discouraging.

    Rather have a series of prizes for best paper, graduate paper etc. Those who would like to compete then can upload papers.

  2. Or maybe a special edition of the SAJE where a selection of the best papers are invited.