Caution: This Post may cause a Trigger Warning

Caution Sign

I hadn’t heard of Twigger Warnings before the other day but it seems like a hot topic today.

For all of their reputation for free thinking, universities can be governed by well-meaning but stifling liberal orthodoxy. The latest example comes in the form of the push on several campuses for “trigger warnings” — statements that advise students that a particular book or other work includes disturbing content that might trigger traumatic reactions in certain people. – Warning, this editorial may upset you: Our view

As you might expect, Rich Lowry doesn’t mince words.

It is profoundly infantilizing. If someone can’t read Crime and Punishment (warning: includes scenes of near-madness, violence, sexual exploitation, cruelty to animals, and smoking) or Hamlet (warning: includes poisoning, drowning, stabbing, and intense intra-familial conflict) without fear of being offended, he or she should major in accounting. – Warning: Literature Ahead

And here is the opposing view.

Trigger warnings in the classroom don’t censor material. Neither are they an excuse to avoid challenging subjects; instead, they offer students with post-traumatic stress disorder control over the situation so that they can interact with difficult material. They don’t protect “fragile personal sensibilities” or remove offensive content. They recognize and validate a real mental issue. – Trigger warnings avert trauma: Opposing view

Here I think is the obvious problem: There is simply no way for someone to anticipate something that will someone else will find to be a Trigger. That is what Mental Health Professionals do in one-one-therapy sessions, it is never going to work on a large scale. And I have to admit that I find it interesting that the advocate is a College Sophomore.

University of Pennsylvania plan to cut Math and Science Libraries Unpopular

UPenn Engineering Library

A plan by the University of Pennsylvania to cut back on two of its branch libraries – one for engineering and the other for math, physics, and astronomy – has yielded an outcry from students and professors who say the books are critical to their studies and research. Both libraries are housed within the same campus buildings as their departments, and are heavily used by undergraduates and graduate students alike. Mathematics students, in particular, said many of the books and materials they need are not available electronically, and they must browse the library to find what they need. – Students, faculty decry Penn plan to cut math and science libraries

Technically, the books will still be available but they will be warehoused in New Jersey and it could take up to 5 days to fill a request for a student who wants one for a project. It seems like this is kind of a brute force method of going digital.

Library 2.0 Challenge

My Director attended the “Tampa Bay Library Consortium Annual Meeting(sylvar’s photos / Tags / tblc2006)”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/tags/tblc2006/ last week and came back with an interesting flyer.
bq.Web 2.0 is all the buzz. Library literature and conferences, the general news media and the internet at large are focusing on these new integrated technologies. Typically Web 2.0 technologies are “supposed second-generation of Internet-based services that let people collaborate and share information online in new ways, such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies.” TBLC is challenging it members to get up to date and integrate the new technologies into their library services. In the next 18 months, TBLC will offer regular workshops, and online tutorials on various Web 2.0 topics. In additions, TBLC will facilitate 1 to 2 hour think tank sessions on 2.0 topics, to help libraries and individuals figure out how to implements these technologies. The “Think Tank Schedule(Library 2.0 Challenge)”:http://www.tblc.org/ws_classes.php includes “Blogs and RSS Feeds,” “Podcasts and Vodcasts,” “IM Tools,” “Gaming,” “Social Networking,” “Tagging/Folksonomies,” and “Gadgets.” Oh, and a January 17th event will feature “Helene Blowers(About Helene)”:http://librarybytes.com/about.html. It is always nice to make contact with people a little less geographically diverse and I look forward to attending as many events as I can.

Pluto Power

Everyone once in a while, there is a story that just makes me angry. This is one of those.
bq.Pluto, beloved by some as a cosmic underdog but scorned by astronomers who considered it too dinky and distant, was unceremoniously stripped of its status as a planet Thursday. The International Astronomical Union, dramatically reversing course just a week after floating the idea of reaffirming Pluto’s planethood and adding three new planets to Earth’s neighborhood, downgraded the ninth rock from the sun in historic new galactic guidelines. – “William J. Kole(Dinky Pluto Loses Its Status as Planet)”:http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2006/08/24/338594-dinky-pluto-loses-its-status-as-planet Some of us are not going to take this lying down. If we allow this self-appointed group of space cadets to do this, who knows there they will stop? Fortunately, the outcry is growing.
bq.It’s an awful definition; it’s sloppy science and it would never pass peer review – for two reasons. Firstly, it is impossible and contrived to put a dividing line between dwarf planets and planets. It’s as if we declared people not people for some arbitrary reason, like ‘they tend to live in groups’. Secondly, the actual definition is even worse, because it’s inconsistent. – “Alan Stern(Pluto vote hijacked in revolt)”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5283956.stm And the battle has just begun.
bq.I believe the IAU’s vote could conceivably stifle the imagination of those of us who still wonder at the glories of our solar system, and who reach for the stars. And I hope that in 2009, when the IAU meets again in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, they will reconsider the vote that they have taken today in Prague. – “Michael A. Burstein(Pluto’s Demotion: My Initial Response)”:http://mabfan.livejournal.com/267566.html So “join the movement(Pluto is a Planet!)”:http://plutoisaplanet.org/ and “show your support(Pluto T-Shirts and Gifts)”:http://www.cafepress.com/buy/pluto/. I can tell you that my library is not going to be rushing to buy “any new astronomy books(Textbook publishers grapple with Pluto demotion)”:http://news.com.com/Textbook+makers+grapple+with++Pluto+demotion/2100-1025_3-6109409.html for now.

Mobile Computer Lab Contest

Last night, I attended an open house at one of our local places of learning, “Sebring Middle School(Sebring Middle School)”:http://www.highlands.k12.fl.us/~sms/. The vast majority of the time was spent voting in the “FutureReady Mobile Computer Lab Contest(FutureReady – Mobile Computer Lab Contest)”:http://www1.futureready.org/mobile-lab/. When last I looked in on the voting, which ended at 12 am CST, they were firmly in fifth place. I checked this morning only to find out the winners will not be officially announce until March. That seems like quite a while to wait.

Kutztown 13

Anyone who has ever had to manage any number of public computers knows what an ordeal it can be. It is also something of a running battle betweens administrators and users.
bq.The trouble began last fall after the district issued some 600 Apple iBook laptops to every student at the high school about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The computers were loaded with a filtering program that limited Internet access. They also had software that let administrators see what students were viewing on their screens. But those barriers proved easily surmountable: The administrative password that allowed students to reconfigure computers and obtain unrestricted Internet access was easy to obtain. A shortened version of the school’s street address, the password was taped to the backs of the computers. – “Michael Rubinkam(Laptop hijinks, or cyber crime?)”:http://www.boston.com/business/personaltech/articles/2005/08/10/laptop_hijinks_or_cyber_crime/ I don’t know the story behind how the program got started, but I can’t quite understand how they can keep their job after what went on. They pretty much issued an engraved invitation to the students. But … Taking responsibility for your own actions is a part of life. Apparently, these students were given fair warning that their behavior had consequences and they chose to ignore them. I don’t have sympathy whatsoever for their plight.

Handheld Kenya

I have always felt that the true appeal of e-books lay in replacing textbooks.
bq.Fifty-four 11-year-old students are willing guinea pigs in an extraordinary experiment aimed at using technology to deliver education across the continent. In the Eduvision pilot project, textbooks are out, customised Pocket PCs, referred to as e-slates, are very much in. They are wi-fi enabled and run on licence-free open source software to keep costs down. – “Richard Taylor(Kenya pilots handheld education)”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/4727617.stm It sounds like there are a number of potential obstacles to the program such as availablity of electricity for recharging as well as wear and tear on the units, but there is a great deal of potential as well. It will be interesting to see if this project could spread to more developed countries.

FlashCP

SanDisk has introduced “FlashCP(SanDisk Introduces FlashCP — Technology To Put Student Textbooks on a USB Flash Drive)”:http://www.mobileburn.com/pressrelease.jsp?Id=1455, which amount to a sort of text book on a stick system. This could be huge if the companies involved realize the potential of what they have. People will be willing to put up with a limited amount of DRM if they seem enough benefit. But based on past experience, I expect that the textbooks companies will be so interested in putting restrictions in, that they won’t remember that usability matters.

Proto-Indoeuropean

I learned a long time ago that most Europeans shared a common ancestry. But what I didn’t know was the similarity between “Hindi and Welsh(The common Indoeuropean heritage of Welsh and Hindi)”:http://portal.wikinerds.org/welsh-hindi-indoeuropean-2005mar, since apparently it was only discovered recently.

Schools and Taxes

Remember when I complained about the “class-size amendment(Florida Class Sizes)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2002/10/23/florida here in Florida? As you may recall, it passed, anyway. Of course, as I complained at the time, it is one thing to pass such an amendment and another to pay for it. Yesterday, we had a local referendum in order to increase sales taxes by .5% in order to pay for the school construction required both for the amendment and to meet the needs of a growing community. Of course, in this case, the “referendum failed(Voters Slam School Sales Tax)”:http://www.highlandstoday.com/MGBHFZUYK8E.html. A “recent effort to amend the amendment(Voters Won’t Reconsider Amendment)”:http://www.tampatrib.com/News/MGBVE6JQK8E.html at the state level also failed. I predict dark times ahead.