A great book review about technology

Via slashdot.org, here is a New Yorker book review about the history of technology. It’s very well written and the point it makes, which comes from the book being reviewed, is that we are surrounded by technology of all vintages, not all of which we are consciously thinking of as technology. How about an old teapot that makes a really good cup of tea? Cutlery? The tried-and-true method of executing a condemned person by hanging? Did you know that the U.S. military is finding horses really useful in operations such as the current ones in Afghanistan? All in all, this is a fascinating essay, well worth reading.

Movement against US News and World Report’s ranking of colleges

Not a moment too soon. A good article in the New York Times about colleges getting together to agree to not participate in the rankings any longer. Instead, they pledged to develop their own framework for comparing colleges and universities in collaboration with other such institutions. Now, if only they could do it without an over-reliance on easily measurable variables… How about a bit of qualitative judgment and student reports instead of counting acceptance rates and publication records, all of which can be easily gamed? (How can you game acceptance rates? Easy. Attract a whole lot of applicants and then reject most of them. How can you game a faculty’s publication record? Easy. Push faculty to publish as many articles as possible, and watch thoughtless, really narrowly focused articles appear by the ton in a constant stream of academic journals sprouting all over the place.)

Webmaster headaches

Two sites I manage were inaccessible today. Apparently the web hosting company was under a DDOS attack. By mid-day the situation was corrected, but I did not really recover peace of mind or productivity for the rest of the day. Here’s hoping that the wild and criminal element on the internet will be contained. Who wants to see the internet drown in malware excrement?