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December 17, 2008

Changes in our Local Media

I am interested in what is going on in the Ann Arbor area and consequently I scour the local media pretty thoroughly on a regular basis, reading in print: "The Ann Arbor Observer," "The Metro Times," "Between the Lines," "Current" and whatever other free papers I find around town. And online I read: "The Ann Arbor News" "Arbor Update," and now "The Ann Arbor Chronicle." Now, it seems that the News wants to change its ways and become more focussed on the local news, a role now being quite well played by the new Chronicle, and to emphasize the online aspects of keeping abreast with what is occurring in our town and surrounding areas. The editor of the News, in fact, wrote in an editorial on Sunday that he requests input as to what readers want to see in the paper. In reply to his editorial (I usually read all the commentary and blogs, as well), he received quite a bit of constructive criticism about the mlive.com website, which is not easy to negotiate, although it has become a little more organized and aesthetically pleasing lately. Respondents wrote both in the News blogs and in a Chronicle column. Of course, it goes without saying that the current economy is a huge factor in stimulating this desire for change on the part of the local media, but it seems very obvious that ordinary, everyday people's habits are changing, too, perhaps because they have become used to the ability to blog and comment and they want to maintain and expand this feature, thus having even more say in how the news is presented and even what it consists of. And, the corollary to this theory is that online is the way to go. I personally am staying tuned for even more changes in our local media.

Posted by schnitzr at 07:36 AM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2008

"What Have You Changed Your Mind About?"

Randolph M. Nesse "used to believe that truth had a special home at universities." Mr. Nesse, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan and an expert on evolution and medicine, now thinks "universities may be the best show in town for truth pursuers, but most of them stifle innovation and constructive engagement of real controversies -- not just sometimes but most of the time, systematically." Faculty committees, he complains, make sure that most positions "go to people just about like themselves." Deans ask how much external financing new hires will bring in. "No one with new ideas ... can hope to get through this fine sieve." --Josh Fischman
Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus 12/15/08

Just because you're smart doesn't mean you get things right the first time. That's the premise behind What Have You Changed Your Mind About? (Harper Perennial), a new anthology. In it, 150 "big thinkers" describe what they now think they were wrong about earlier in their lives. Much of this has to do with technology and education. Among the highlights: Ray Kurzweil no longer thinks that intelligent aliens exist. The oft-cited futurist and inventor, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and in making reading machines for the blind, says that conventional thinking holds there should be billions of such civilizations and a number of them should be ahead of us, "capable of vast, galaxy-wide technologies. So how can it be that we haven't noticed" all of the signals they should be creating? "My own conclusion is that they don't exist." Roger C. Schank used to say "we would have machines as smart as we are within my lifetime." Now Mr. Schank, a former Yale University professor and director of Yale's artificial-intelligence project, says: "I no longer believe that will happen... I still believe we can create very intelligent machines. But I no longer believe that those machines will be like us." Chess-playing computers that beat people are not good examples, he says. Playing chess is not representative of typical human intelligence. "Chess players are methodical planners. Human beings are not." We tend, Mr. Schank says, "to not know what we know."

Posted by schnitzr at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)