9.19.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “The Learning Machines”

“A graphic history of classroom technology, from the writing slate to the electronic tablet.”

2. “Cleaner for the Environment, Not for the Dishes”

“Now that the content in dishwasher detergent has plummeted to 0.5 percent from as high as 8.7 percent, many consumers are just noticing the change in the wash cycle as they run out of the old product.”

3. “Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs”

“A thin line separates the temperament of a promising entrepreneur from a person who could use, as they say in psychiatry, a little help.”

4. “Better Health, With a Little Help From Our Friends”

“Is your social network making you fat?”

5. “A Zillion Friends, and a Few Enemies”

“As the film opens, Mark Zuckerberg is having an argument in a loud bar with his about-to-be-ex girlfriend and muse in abstentia …. Socially inept, he misses a growing number of signals that she finds his relentless ambition revolting. Ms. Mara’s character waits for an opening and then, with a few well-chosen words, reduces him to tongue-tied misery. It is classic Sorkin, eight pages of dialogue with two smart humans locked in verbal combat. So what’s the Fincher part? They shot the scene 99 times.”

6. “Turn on, Tune in to a Trippy Afterlife”

“You’re just playing with very simple emotions.”

7. “The Age of Citation”

“Once a symbol of ambition, the epigraph is now more likely to be an indication of community. It tells us less about whom a poet hopes to equal and more about where he’d like to hang out.”

8. “The Plot Escapes Me”

“Why read books if we can’t remember what’s in them?”

9. “Achieving Techno-Literacy”

“Technological literacy is something different: proficiency with the larger system of our invented world. It is close to an intuitive sense of how you add up, or parse, the manufactured realm. We don’t need expertise with every invention; that is not only impossible, it’s not very useful. Rather, we need to be literate in the complexities of technology in general, as if it were a second nature.”

10. “Chunking”

“In recent decades, the study of language acquisition and instruction has increasingly focused on ‘chunking’: how children learn language not so much on a word-by-word basis but in larger ‘lexical chunks’ or meaningful strings of words that are committed to memory. Chunks may consist of fixed idioms or conventional speech routines, but they can also simply be combinations of words that appear together frequently, in patterns that are known as ‘collocations.'”

11. “Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind?”

“A career in computer science makes you see the world in its terms. You start to see money as a form of information display instead of as a store of value. Money flows are the computational output of a lot of people planning, promising, evaluating, hedging and scheming, and those behaviors start to look like a set of algorithms. You start to see the weather as a computer processing bits tweaked by the sun, and gravity as a cosmic calculation that keeps events in time and space consistent. This way of seeing is becoming ever more common as people have experiences with computers.”

12. “The Pen That Never Forgets”

“Taking notes has long posed a challenge in education. Decades of research has found a strong correlation between good notes and good grades: the more detailed and accurate your notes, the better you do in school. That’s partly because the act of taking notes forces you to pay closer attention. But what’s more important, according to some researchers, is that good notes provide a record: most of the benefits from notes come not from taking them but from reviewing them, because no matter how closely we pay attention, we forget things soon after we leave class.”

13. “Hacks Into Hackers”

“He says hacks should be hackers, and he isn’t alone.”

14. “Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom”

“The language of gamers is, when you begin to decipher it, the language of strivers. People who play video games speak enthusiastically about “leveling up” and are always shooting for the epic win. Getting to the end of even a supposedly simple video game can take 15 or more hours of play time, and it almost always involves failure — lots and lots of failure.”

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