Archive for: June, 2010

Friday Fun: Students Blame Innovative Incentive Program for Tricking Them into Learning

Jun 04 2010 Published by under friday fun

What can I say, The Cronk is my new Internet crush. I think I might be stalking them. But in a good way.

In any case, check this out: Students Blame Innovative Incentive Program for Tricking Them into Learning

Psychology professor Edgar Stevens is a popular topic of conversation at Farmington College today as he has become the center of an unusual campus debate. Stevens, a recent recipient of the Farmington Innovative Teaching Citation, inspired heated conversation at the recent Student Government Association (SGA) meeting as a result of an assignment in his second-tier psychology course.

Stevens assigned an online exam last week with the intent, as he told his students, to give them another major exam that counted for double the points in response to what he told them were dismal scores on the first two exams.

Weeks of preparation allowed students to prepare, and when the big exam day came the stress was palpable. Awash with fear of the difficult exam, students visited the link for the test and they instead found a link to a Rick Astley video of the song "Never Gonna Give You Up" and an explanation that they had just been "Rick Rolled."

3 responses so far

All complex ecosystems have parasites

Jun 03 2010 Published by under acad lib future, librarianship, social media

A cautionary tale from Cory Doctorow in his most recent Locus column, Persistence Pays Parasites.

My friend Katherine Myronuk once told me, "All complex ecosystems have parasites." She was talking about spam and malware (these days they're often the same thing) and other undesirable critters on the net. It's one of the smartest things anyone's ever said to me about the net - and about the world. If there's a niche, a parasite will fill it. There's a reason the cells of the organisms that live in your body outnumber your own by 100 to one. And every complex system has unfilled niches. The only way to eliminate unfilled niches is to keep everything simple to the point of insignificance.


And I'm media-literate: I have a good nose for scams and linkbait, I know that no one's planning to give me millions for aiding in a baroque scheme to smuggle cash out of Nigeria, and I can spot a phishing e-mail at a thousand paces.

I know that phishing - using clever fakes to trick the unsuspecting into revealing their passwords - is a real problem, with real victims. But I just assumed that phishing was someone else's problem.

Or so I thought, until I got phished last week.


But all the stars aligned for that one moment, and in that exact and precise moment of vulnerability, I was attacked by a phisher. This is eerily biological, this idea of parasites trying every conceivable variation, at all times, on every front, seeking a way to colonize a host organism. The net's complex ecosystem is so crowded with parasites now that it is a sure bet that there will be a parasite lurking in the next vulnerable moment I experience, and the next. And I will have vulnerable moments. We all do.

I don't have a solution, but at least I have a better understanding of the problem. Falling victim to a scam isn't just a matter of not being wise to the ways of the world: it's a matter of being caught out in a moment of distraction and of unlikely circumstance.

The moral of the story is that nobody's perfect, we're all vulnerable. I know I've been hit once or twice with things where I should have known better (fortunately, nothing serious).

Read Doctorow's complete tale of woe -- it's a great story by a great story-teller.

And think a bit about distributed expertise, a topic I've been thinking about quite a bit for the last day or two and the subject of my next post. No one of us, as a family or a profession or a society, can know everything or have every talent or be ready for every eventuality or fill every role. Something I think libraries and librarians try and do sometimes: be all things to all people.

No responses yet

« Newer posts