Cory Leonard

Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Leadership Hall of Fame | Richard Barton, technologist

In career, tech on August 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

If consistency and the ability to produce are the goals, Richard Barton is the king of Silicon Valley–even though he lives in Seattle.

Mr. Barton’s successes have not brought him the multibillion-dollar returns of the latest tech sensations, or the name recognition of some of tech’s leaders. But by producing and investing in a series of successful start-ups, Mr. Barton, 46, has managed to accomplish something few others have done.

“You can name people who are richer than Rich, but you can’t name very many people who have his track record,” said Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist who was an early investor in Amazon and is a close friend of Mr. Barton’s. “You will find very few people in this country who have as many times created something from nothing.”

via The Art of ‘Something From Nothing’ –


MOOCs Are Usefully Middlebrow | Chronicle Review

In tech on May 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter

The problem with MOOCs is _____? Get ready for a  backlash, since for the last few years we have endured the prophetic declarations about how online learning would solve all problems.

Maybe the real issue is that they essentially useful–but  in a particular way, short of being revolutionary:

It’s easy to dismiss middlebrow culture. William James visited the Chautauqua Institute in 1896 and wrote that “the middle-class paradise” was “too tame, this culture too second-rate, this goodness too uninspiring.” Virginia Woolf waxed vitriolic: “If any human being, woman, man, dog, cat, or half-crushed worm dares call me \’middlebrow\’ I will take my pen and stab him, dead.\” Intellectuals and academics have been whaling on middlebrow culture since Dwight Macdonald\’s 1960 essay \”Masscult and Midcult.\”

The ambivalence is understandable. There is a dumbing down that\’s intrinsic to middlebrow efforts. Real scholarship, criticism, or commentary is slow, detailed, and difficult, even in the hands of the clearest teacher or smoothest writer, and very few of us are those. Middlebrow culture offers lists, hooks, easy handles, formulas in the place of getting to know a text, working through a problem, mastering a difficult philosophic chain of reasoning.

Still, I can\’t find it in me to dismiss the middlebrow. I vividly recall my mother, an underemployed Ph.D., frantically preparing to give a presentation to a book club on War and Peace, or rushing home from school to hear my father\’s lectures on world literature broadcast on WSUI, the radio station of the University of Iowa. Limited though it may be, the middlebrow enterprise is as inspiring as it is troubling. It is democracy at its best and its worst.

via MOOCs Are Usefully Middlebrow – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Just keep studying. (The liberal arts crisis will pass.)

In career, tech on February 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Everyone seems to want to work at Google. And they want to talk about the end of liberal arts. If you aren’t following Scott Sprenger’s Humanities+ blog you should do so; he marshals all of the latest posts–and has been cited by a number of others such as Andrew Sullivan , Inside Higher Ed and the CHE.

Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman visits the Mountain View, California campus to figure out what hiring managers look for in new candidates.  Friedman learns that cognitive ability, leadership, and humility make all the difference.  

To continue this theme with we get more from Adam Gopnkik  on “liberal arts versus the world,” via GPS, one of the consistently best programs on CNN.  Gopnik talks about why studying lit isn’t elitist, the link between pop culture, the world of ideas and a lot more:

Apple is primarily an enterprise in the arts and design, perhaps before anything else. But I also think it’s true that we don’t have to apologize for the humanities and the arts in that way, because the truth is that in every civilization that we know of, that interests us at all, there’s an ongoing conversation about books and pictures.

via Are the humanities worth studying? – Global Public Square – Blogs.

via .

Holiday 2013 Reading List for Young Creatives

In career, media, tech on December 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Tis the season for booklists, and reading is a wonderful thing.  Books make great gifts–and without weighing into the delivery mechanism (False dichotomy? Buy ebooks from independents and everyone wins who matters?)

This is my favorite list for students and seekers of an intellectual bent–with The Circle for the Google/Facebook fans, The Flamethrowers for creatives, Americanah for bloggers, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (post-Gatsby viewing because Baz Luhrman is irresistible), and Tenth of December because everyone says you should (and its good.)  Finally, if you are thinking about studying abroad, consider Necessary Errors.

via 2013’s 20 Best Books for Every Kind Of 20-Something – PolicyMic.


7 Data Viz Sites to Inspire Your Creative Eye

In tech on October 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Worth checking out for infographcs insights and designs:

via 7 Data Viz Sites to Inspire Your Creative Eye.

How Not to Be Alone: Technology and Human Interaction

In tech on August 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Simone Weil wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” By this definition, our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves, are becoming increasingly miserly. via How Not to Be Alone –, a 2013 Middlebury College commencement address by Jonathan Safran Foer

Thinking about how technology threatens and reshapes the experience of travel. In particular, when wi-fi is more important the breakfast, you know that today’s study abroad travelers think differently.


Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen:”The New Digital Age”s Futurist Schlock | New Republic

In tech on June 2, 2013 at 3:16 am


My favorite anti-tech guy, Evgeny Morozov in TNR takes on the Google dynamic duo with his gloves off, tackling “Panglossian” techno-worship and what he regards as the “superficial and megalomaniacal” book.  Its like Wired magazine with the hyperdrive stuck in reverse.

In the simplicity of its composition, Schmidt and Cohen’s book has a strongly formulaic—perhaps I should say algorithmic—character. The algorithm, or thought process, goes like this. First, pick a non-controversial statement about something that matters in the real world—the kind of stuff that keeps members of the Council on Foreign Relations awake at their luncheons. Second, append to it the word “virtual” in order to make it look more daring and cutting edge. If “virtual” gets tiresome, you can alternate it with “digital.” Third, make a wild speculation—ideally something that is completely disconnected from what is already known today. Schmidt and Cohen’s allegedly unprecedented new reality, in other words, remains entirely parasitic on, and derivative of, the old reality.

via Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen:”The New Digital Age”s Futurist Schlock | New Republic.

You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In tech on May 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Now that you have read this online…go offline and contemplate what technology is doing to you: Information and Contemplation: a Reading List – A selection of readings from a course taught by David M. Levy at the University of Washington

Introduction to Contemplative Practice

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pages 3-19)
  • Alfred W. Kaszniak, “Contemplative Pedagogy: Perspectives From Cognitive and Affective Science,” in Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines

Smart or Stupid?

  • Adam Gopnik, “The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us,” The New Yorker (2011)
  • Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (2011; pages 151-170)
  • Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011; introduction and conclusion)


  • Warren Thorngate, “On Paying Attention” (1988) in Recent Trends in Theoretical Psychology (1993; pages 247-263)
  • Antoine Lutz, Heleen A. Slagter, John D. Dunne, and Richard J. Davidson, “Attention Regulation and Monitoring in Meditation,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2008; pages 163-169)


  • Stephen R. Barley, Debra E. Meyerson, and Stine Grodal, “E-Mail as Source and Symbol of Stress,” Organization Science (2010)
  • Linda Stone, “Just Breathe: Building the Case for Email Apnea,” Huffington Post (2008)

The Body

  • Galen Cranz, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design (1998; chapters 3-4)
  • “Is All That Sitting Really Killing Us?,” The New York Times, “Room for Debate” (2010)

Emotional Regulation

  • Chade-Meng-Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace (2012; Meng, as he is known, founded Google’s mindfulness course, “Search Inside Yourself.”)


  • David M. Levy, “No Time to Think: Reflections on Information Technology and Contemplative Scholarship,” Ethics and Information Technology (2007)


  • Claudia Wallis, “The Impacts of Media Multitasking on Children’s Learning and Development” (2010; report from research seminar, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop)
  • Victor M. González and Gloria Mark, “‘Constant, Constant, Multi-Tasking Craziness’: Managing Multiple Working Spheres” (2004; paper presented at Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
  • David L. Strayer and Jason M. Watson, “Supertaskers and the Multitasking Brain” (2012), Scientific American Mind (pages 22-29)
  • David M. Levy, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Alfred W. Kaszniak, and Marilyn Ostergren, “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment” (2012; paper presented at Graphics Interface Conference)


  • David M. Levy, “More, Faster, Better: Governance in an Age of Overload, Busyness, and Speed” (2006; First Monday)
  • Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (2010)
  • “The Unplugged Challenge,” The New York Times (2010)
  • Sabbath Manifesto (Web site)

via You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Brooks on Why Big Data Isn’t Always the Answer

In tech on April 17, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Big data is a tool, not a worldview.  We need better data–and it helps make more informed decisions–but what are the limits?  Brooks probes:

If you are relying just on data, you will have a tendency to trust preferences and anticipate a continuation of what is happening right now. Soros makes money by exploiting other people’s misinterpretations and anticipating when they will become unsustainable.

Then there is the distinction between commodity decisions and flourishing decisions. Some decisions are straightforward commodities: what route to work is likely to be fastest. Big data can help. Flourishing decisions are things like who to marry, who to befriend, what career calling to pursue and what college to choose. These decisions involve trying to find people, places and things that harmonize with your subjective self. It’s a mistake to take subjective intuition out of this decision because subjectivity is the whole point.

One of my take-aways is that big data is really good at telling you what to pay attention to. It can tell you what sort of student is likely to fall behind. But then to actually intervene to help that student, you have to get back in the world of causality, back into the world of responsibility, back in the world of advising someone to do x because it will cause y.

Big data is like the offensive coordinator up in the booth at a football game who, with altitude, can see patterns others miss. But the head coach and players still need to be on the field of subjectivity.

via What You’ll Do Next –


TED Haters?

In media, tech on March 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I like TED, but am intersted to consider the critics viewpoint.  They boil down to charges of elitism, Silicon Valley-buzzword talk, and a sense of positive psychology.  And then:

The biggest charge critics level at TED is that it glorifies “ideas” for their own sake, and rewards snappy presentation over rigorous thought or intellectual debate.

via Why do people hate TED so much? | FP Passport.