How the Other Half Works: an Adventure in the Low Status of Software Engineers

Michael:

Well worth the time to read for anyone with a career in technology. And I am amazed with the number of parallels between the social/political challenges of being a software engineer and being a teacher.

Originally posted on Michael O. Church:

Bill (not his real name, and I’ve fuzzed some details to protect his identity) is a software engineer on the East Coast, who, at the time (between 2011 and 2014) of this story, had recently turned 30 and wanted to see if he could enter a higher weight class on the job market. In order to best assess this, he applied to two different levels of position at roughly equivalent companies: same size, same level of prestige, same U.S. city on the West Coast. To one company, he applied as a Senior Software Engineer. To the other, he applied for VP of Data Science.

Bill had been a Wall Street quant and had “Vice President” in his title, noting that VP is a mid-level and often not managerial position in an investment bank. His current title was Staff Software Engineer, which was roughly Director-equivalent. He’d taught a couple of courses and…

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Is Facebook Making Us Into Lazy Friends?

facebook espiao

Image: Public Domain

I have been considering closing my Facebook account for a variety of reasons. I have been telling myself it is because of the company’s dishonesty, trickery, sneakiness, and liberal definition of privacy. They also use aggressive means to try monetizing their business with advertising, gaming, and selling of data, which are all rather obnoxious.

Of course we have control over this product. Although it is free, it is still a product and we are paying for it in some way. If I am in control over this, why am I considering canning the account instead of just ending my relationship with this company that I constantly complain about?

Facebook has become the only way I connect with friends (other than the few that live nearby). It is more than just a product because it is your social life, which is what makes it so brilliant and so dangerous.

So, this morning I realized the real reason I may be so uncomfortable with Facebook; it has allowed me to justify being disengaged from my friends. I don’t have to call, because I see a few things that are going on in their life on Facebook. Plus, I really have not been getting any satisfaction from using it lately. I know that it isn’t in my personality to really reach out to friends over a distance. And those distances have only grown in the last decade following high school graduation. But Facebook has made it worse by making me think it was okay to just settle for a few likes, because that’s what relationships are nowadays. But all relationships (romantic, familial, and friendships) take work.

What do you think? Does Facebook have this effect on friendships and the way we socialize? Is it worth closing altogether and go back to calling people and writing letters?

One Heck of a Teacher Pep Talk for Aug/Sept – from @loveteachblog

Depending of where you live, you are either in the middle of summer or within a couple of weeks of starting school. Either way, read this letter now and read it again on your first day back:

This will be the most difficult, challenging thing you will ever do. It will push you to your limits as a person. It will almost break you. There are times when it will feel like life has sucker-punched you, then offered you crutches, then taken the crutches and is beating you over the back with them while laughing hysterically.
Teaching will also be the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to you.

Read the entire post here.

Being a Better Online Reader, Reading Online vs. On Paper, from The @NewYorker

Maria Konnikova at The New Yorker discusses the differences between reading online and reading on paper:

One of her main hypotheses is that the physical presence of a book—its heft, its feel, the weight and order of its pages—may have more than a purely emotional or nostalgic significance. People prefer physical books, not out of old-fashioned attachment but because the nature of the object itself has deeper repercussions for reading and comprehension. “Anecdotally, I’ve heard some say it’s like they haven’t read anything properly if they’ve read it on a Kindle. The reading has left more of an ephemeral experience,” she told me. Her hunch is that the physicality of a printed page may matter for those reading experiences when you need a firmer grounding in the material. The text you read on a Kindle or computer simply doesn’t have the same tangibility.

Read the full article here.

Rethinking Ed Tech? MIT Blossoms story at Slate

Ed-tech enthusiasts who think they can do an end run around teachers will find that teachers are still the ultimate arbiters of what’s welcome in their classrooms: Witness the interactive “Smart Boards” introduced with such fanfare into America’s schools, now functioning as so many expensive bulletin boards.

Ed-tech proponents who think that technology can “disrupt” or “transform” education on its own would do well to take a lesson from the creators of Blossoms, who call their program’s blend of computers and people a “teaching duet.” Their enthusiasm for the possibilities of technology is matched by an awareness of the limits of human nature.

Read the whole article at Slate.