The Care and Feeding of Co-Authors:
As Chris Uggen pointed out on the Twitters, it’s easy to disappoint your coworkers. Whether it’s producing actual Swedish Fish when a candy-mergency arises in a late-night writing session or dropping the ball when it’s your turn to write the lit review, there are just so many opportunities to co-write badly. Here’s my very quick editorial advice should you decide to undertake a co-authored project: (more…)
Missing the Point
I was so struck last night to hear a little piece about the sociologist Clifford Nass on NPR (in a fun side note, I’d like to point out that Nass was also a computer scientist and professional magician… which is pertinent to the next sentence). Yes, he was known for his warning that multitasking was dangerous to real thought and real learning, but what caught my ear was how his colleagues spoke of his relationship with expanding technologies. Nass didn’t seem to have any antipathy for the tech—he saw its utility, of course—but he realized that all those blinky things were going to be attention sucks. Multiple distractions tend to be bad when you aren’t a good multitasker (to be fair, he didn’t think anyone was a good multitasker), but worse, he seemed to believe, the divided attention meant that his students paid attention to too much noise. Over time, he felt his students were getting worse and worse at understanding an argument and repeating it clearly. They weren’t good at finding the point or pulling out a specific nugget of information from a whole article. They had trained themselves (or been trained by their technologies) to see the forest, not the trees. I’m not wholly convinced, but I am intrigued—and I’m sad that the world has lost another great sociologist in the meantime. (more…)
At a Loss
The Society Pages is housed, as many of you know, at the University of Minnesota, and stems from a vision Doug Hartmann and Chris Uggen formulated in their term as the editors of the ASA’s journal Contexts. That vision was also shaped by the young sociologists who made up the graduate editorial board of Contexts for each of its four years at the U of M, and later when it came to creating and sustaining The Society Pages. It’s now been a week since we lost one of those bright young minds: Tim Ortyl. I still don’t know what to say, other than that Tim did everything in his life whole-heartedly, and so I’m pleased that you can read some of his work here on our site, as well as a Contexts article that SAGE publications and the ASA are offering as a free download. I believe Tim had contributed immensely to the discipline already, and I hope that having known him as a friend, teacher, colleague, or student will continue to inspire sociological imaginations long after our quiet time of mourning fades. Right now, that time seems impossible. (more…)
Root canal: that’s what I’ll be doing with my morning. In fact, I’m in the chair awaiting my fate right now. You are welcome to send mocking notes of semi-pity via the comments below. It’s a combination of a routine-emergency thing, and hopefully by noon or so I’ll be nice and numb, by Monday I’ll have a bruised face, and by this time next week I’ll be right as rain, happily eating and breathing and whatnot. But it’s super weird to suddenly become aware of one tooth. (more…)
A Digression on Writerly Fitness:
I’ve been reading and writing a bit about fitness lately, and I’ve noticed two trends come up again and again: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and “body confusion.” What does this have to do with TSP and writing you ask? Excellent question. (more…)
What Does the Letta Say?
EEP! There was no Friday Roundup. Guess who’s fault that is? Mine-oh-mine. But to make it up to you, here’s some fresh Monday morning reading!
In Case You Missed It:
“The Fascination and Frustration with Native American Mascots,” by Jennifer Guiliano. A look at the history and fight over mascots, as the Redskins go 1-4 in the NFC East.
“Sketch #4: TSP @ White House,” by Chris Uggen. Dr. Uggen goes to Washington. (more…)
For the next couple of Roundups, I’d like to welcome TSP’s graduate editor Hollie Nyseth Brehm. She’ll be covering for me as I head off on a 3-hour cruise. Actually, there’s no cruise. But I do expect to find myself washed up on a beach for a stretch, so I won’t be rounding up the site until… October 11th? Craziness. For now, one last hurrah before heading for the airport (yet again). (more…)
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts
In just three days, a new school year is upon us. For my part, I enjoy the ritual: I buy a new pair of Converse (high-top Chucks, black, always). I make sure I’ve got a fresh notebook or two. I think hard about how to be organized and motivated (this will fall away quickly), and I try to draw on the enthusiasm of all of the incoming students swarming the campus. And then I get geared up for the next wave of great ideas and new readers flowing into The Society Pages. Then Doug gives me a good “Coach Taylor” pep talk, and we dive in. Can’t wait to see what the inbox brings. All I know is, with readers and authors like these, we can’t lose.
If all else fails, show a movie (see the comments for many suggestions). (more…)
Home Again, Home Again
So, we are back from that extravaganza of society’s science, the annual American Sociology Association meetings. Among all the usual parties, plenaries, and pleasantries, the conference, held this year in New York City, featured lot of talk about blogs and social media, websites, and public sociology. For example, incoming ASA President Annette Lareau has created an ad hoc task force on social media, and apparently several different proposals are floating around to create an association-sponsored blog. Who knows whether or how these ideas will come to fruition before next year’s meeting. What is particularly intriguing and exciting for us is that The Society Pages seems to be very much on people’s minds and it’s been at the center of many of these conversations. Even as our HQ dispersed for the meetings and our authors circulated in NYC, our bloggers continued to blog and contributions and exciting ideas continued to come in. Among the highlights on the site this past week was a roundtable on one of the most fascinating cultural festivals in the nation, Burning Man, assembled by Matt Wray. Below, Letta Page has assembled some of the other weekend reading from the past couple of weeks of site work.
One last note: for those who joined us on Monday night, you know that W.W. Norton & Co. throws a fantastic annual party, and we’re honored to be invited. Thanks for coming, and thanks to Karl Bakeman and his team for putting together such a fun night. The Norton Party is always the home of some unforgettable moments. (more…)
Still Wise Words
Hopefully, we all have a teacher or two who stirs fond memories. For me, one of the first to spring to mind is Loren J. Samons II, a professor of classical studies at my alma mater, Boston University. Prof. Samons is notable for many reasons (one of his brilliant strokes was to refer to the class, collectively, as “scholars”—a convention that set the tone for each lecture in just one word), but this week, I found an old syllabus. I wondered why I’d kept it—I took several classes from Prof. Samons in my time at BU, but it still seemed an odd document to cling to, some 12 years after graduation. And then I read. Nestled within many wise words for young students learning to learn, write, engage with literature, and find their way through sources both ancient and modern, was this gem: (more…)