Fellow scholars, I read this in todays Guardian about two "culturomics" researchers at Harvard who are using Google data and $ to study the English language "genome": "In their inibal analysis of the database, the team found that around 8,500 new words enter the English language every year and the lexicon grew by 70% between 1950 and 2000. But most of these words do not appear in dicbonaries. "We esbmated that 52% of the English lexicon – the majority of words used in English books – consist of lexical dark mafer undocumented in standard references," they wrote in the journal Science (the full paper is available with free online registrabon)." Lets talk a bit about terms like "culturomics" and "genome" and the apparent need to sound like a scienbst (a wacky scienbst at that) in order to be taken seriously by the media and govt grant dispensers these days.
Module Objecbves As a result of working through this module, students will: • Idenbfy themselves as public intellectuals and change agents, • Demonstrate willingness and ability to pursue complexity, depth, mulbple contexts/ perspecbves, and nuance in their individual thinking, social processes, and discursive products, • Employ self-‐deﬁned, inquiry-‐driven learning, analysis, cribcal thinking, and reﬂecbon….
Blogging (15%): One of the key aspects of your work this semester is our course blog, on which you’ll write frequently, using your posts to respond to our course readings, to draw your classmates’ afenbon to arbcles and arbfacts you’ve found, and so forth. You are required to post at least one entry each week, which should directly engage with the week’s readings, before the start of class on Monday; this entry should be as formal as a printed reading response would be, paying afenbon to the quotabon, citabon, and explicabon pracbces involved in close reading. Other entries are greatly desired; these can be as informal as you like…. This weekly requirement is meant as a minimum acceptable level of parbcipabon; I hope that you’ll all contribute more, creabng an ongoing, engaging dialogue.
Beware Administered Intellectuality We should always be wary of the imperial impulse—the possibility that any interest in mentalibes is betrayed by a ... preexistent interest in maintaining and jusbfying a structure of privileges. James Fernandez, Ediﬁcabon by Puzzlement (1980) hfp://home.uchicago.edu/~jwf1/Puzzlement.pdf
No one knows what it would do to a creabve brain to think creabvely conbnuously. Perhaps the brain, like the heart, must devote most of its bme to rest between beats. But I doubt that this is true. I hope it is not, because [interacbve computers] can give us our ﬁrst look at unfefered thought. J.C.R. Licklider, “Computers in the University,” in Computers and the World of the Future, 1962.
We’re sbll in the early days of understanding how to amplify collecbve intelligence. It’s telling that many of the best tools we have—tools such as blogs, wikis, and online forums—weren’t invented by the people we might suppose are the experts on group behavior and intelligence, experts from ﬁelds such as group psychology, sociology, and economics. Instead, they were invented by amateurs, people such as Maf Mullenweg, who was a 19-‐year-‐old student when he created Wordpress, one of the most popular types of blogging sowware, and Linus Torvalds, who was a 21-‐year-‐old student when he created the open source Linux operabng system. That tells us we should be wary of current theory: while we can learn a great deal from exisbng academic studies, the picture of collecbve intelligence that emerges is also incomplete.