On spam, anti-spam, porn and robocalls

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I’ve been continually very impressed by WordPress’s Akismet spam filters—and annoyed and depressed that individuals spend so much time spamming or attempting to perfect successful spamming techniques. Not a day goes by when my filter doesn’t catch 7-10 spam messages—usually from abroad. Some are somewhat clever in their design.

This one in particular interests me because it is written not unlike how my juvenile undergraduate friends use to write silly/sometimes funny/ erotic/neurotic “pornography”. Unlike many spammers, this individual is reasonably literate in grammar and spelling, very clever in the number of ways of praising someone,and uses sound sound social psychological principles to fool the reader into thinking the comments are worthy of including in a blog post. A lot of work went into creating this. Such wasted intelligence.

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{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours
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{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content
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{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
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{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this
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{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
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{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
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{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
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{It is the|It’s the} little changes {that make|which will make|that produce|that will make} {the biggest|the largest|the greatest|the most important|the most significant} changes.
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{Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme.
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{Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate it|Kudos}!|
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{Reading through|Looking at|Going through|Looking through}
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{forward|send} {this article|this information|this post}
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{A lot of|Lots of|Many|Numerous} {other folks|folks|other people|people} {will
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IE {still|nonetheless} is the {marketplace|market} {leader|chief} and {a large|a good|a
big|a huge} {part of|section of|component to|portion of|component of|element of} {other folks|folks|other people|people} will {leave out|omit|miss|pass
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{Hi|Hello}, i think that i saw you visited my {blog|weblog|website|web
site|site} {so|thus} i came to “return the favor”.{I am|I’m} {trying to|attempting to} find things to {improve|enhance} my {website|site|web site}!I suppose its ok
to use {some of|a few o

Today, finally, is Voting Day in Wisconsin. For awhile, perhaps, my phone will not be ringing 6-7 times per night between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.with spam-like political robocalls  with lengthy, emotional, one-sided messages telling me how to vote. Ironically they have motivated me to vote—but not for the candidate most abusing my privacy.

Thank you WordPress for your continual enlightenment and enablement. Blog pieces like your recent one on voting make it easier to vote and illustrate the opposite of spamming. Let’s create a word for that! Anti-spam?

Off to vote!


USING Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning

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I hope I never find myself in the position of this monk where I need to call in technical support to figure out how to read an object called a “book.” In my judgment there IS a danger, however, in becoming too dependent on “technology learning tools.” My favorite tools remain a # 2 pencil with an eraser, a Pilot G-2 broad ink pen, some writing paper, and my mind. Nonetheless, this blog post is a heart-felt mini-festschrift to an Internet visionary.

I’ve written numerous blog posts about the tremendous value I find from Jane Hart’s annual identifying top learning tools. I have unbridled admiration and respect for her vision, willingness to share, and thought-provoking ideas. As I wind up (or wind down) my teaching career over the next few years, I am making an intentional, concerted effort to use things I have learned from Jane (directly or indirectly) over the past seven years. Thank you, Comrade and Mentor across the Pond!

  1. I have incorporated into my Experimental Social Psychology class use of a Ning (or see Julie Lindsay‘s superb utilization of a Ning). If you would like to visit this Ning, especially if you are a former student or classmate of mine or are also an experimental social psychologist, let me know. I would welcome incorporating into the Ning your thoughts about the course or your thoughts about being a social psychologist or using social psychology.
  2. Jane has influenced (favorably) my extra-classroom university academic life (e.g. I maintain alumni contact through Linkedin, and by my cross-posting my WordPress blogs across Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Jane’s influence has transformed the way I conduct my committee work (e.g. I recently began a Planning and Budget Committee meeting which I co-chair with a screenflow screencast which explained to colleagues how to access budget and planning information).
  4. Jane has transformed my daily interaction with my student research assistants who annually pilot test all tools on Jane’s list.  Among the tools we currently use or are bench-marking for student learning utility are Google Drive, Class Owl, and WordPress. These research assistants continue to revitalize me with their intelligence, playfulness, eagerness to learn, and youth. I have invited this year’s S -Team to identify what Top Tools they find most valuable and which they’d like to learn. Stay tuned.



Three Digital Tools in Need of My Sharpening

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I’m in the process of revisiting several resources that have influenced my choice of online teaching tools. This post focuses on the book by Steve Johnson (2011)—a thoughtful and concise compendium of his thinking about today’s “tech-savvy” (high school age) learners and how to prepare them for their digital future. He systematically  evaluates over 30 “etools” he judges to be useful for engendering collaboration, creation, and publication across the curriculum, and offers concrete suggestions for how to get started (and how to keep up) as an instructor. Among the many tools that he recommends that I have personally found especially useful for my teaching at the college/university level are the following:

  1. I have grown to like Animoto as a vehicle for creating and sharing video-like productions, despite its constraints of needing to use Adobe Flash and accepting only MP3 formatted music files. I have elected to have an educational account with them. Here is an example of how I have used it.
  2. WordPress is now my blogging tool of choice and the blogging tool that I teach to students. I myself move back and forth between WordPress.com (“David in Carroll Land”) and WordPres.org  (“Curious David in Carroll Land”). The latter gives me far more creative freedom (e.g. the use of plugins) but at an additional cost (both financial and time I need to devote to its higher learning-curve). Here is an example of a WordPress.com blog piece in which my student research assistants shared  “sand box” activities while they explored for me the value of some beta version software which showed promise to me of eventually being useful in the classroom.  Here, on the other hand, is a recent blog piece co-written with my students using the WordPress.org blogging software (which I still am at an early stage of mastering). Without doubt, my best etool  evaluators are my highly trained student assistants.
  3. Google Docs is becoming an increasingly important tool for me. Indeed, I would love to devote the time to create a Google Apps course for our students.  Richard Bryne, an educator thought leader whom I follow on Twitter and whose contributions I benefit from, has created a wonderful comprehensive guide to this tool.

Presently my students are more facile with this learning tool than I!.  We regularly use it as a means of collaborating and sharing documents —photos, videos, journal articles, rough drafts, spreadsheets. Just today one of my senior research seminar students shared with me, on Google Drive, a wonderful video she had made of her interviewing her twelve-year-old son about his experiences with a form of Asperger syndrome. Keri and I shortly shall be incorporating this video and her insights about parenting such a special child into a blog piece as a first step in assisting her in writing a book to share her knowledge.


 

Mapping New Directions for the Writings of Curious David

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David Simpson Teaching 1

Now that I’ve returned to writing this blog with some regularity, I’ve begun to have a sense of the directions I hope to take it—or it to take me. My present thoughts are to write more regularly.

I have just finished rereading Janet Majure’s wonderful Teach Yourself Visually WordPress, and have benefited much from studying online WordPress instructional resources.   Consequently, I feel I now have an ability to master and manage this WordPress.com blogging software. Once the semester ends I’ll have a summer free to think, read, write, and reflect before my teaching obligations of year # 36 at Carroll resume.

I’m thinking that one distinct thread of writing I want to explore will deal with technology applications to higher education. Another will have the theme of “David in Carroll Land” (perhaps co-authored with invited students, alumni, or other members of the Carroll family). A third will deal with whatever comes to mind (as has been in the past). Some of my most creative bursts of ideas are engendered after a long summer’s day of manual labor cutting grass, chain-sawing, and being engaged in other outdoor physical or recreational activity.

A fourth focus will deal with contemporary or local issues, and a fifth will just be intended to provoke thinking.

I welcome any reader feedback about these new directions. Am I being too ambitious? Will I have any readers? Is this a positive direction to go—or is it, in fact, directionless?

Blogs post topics  that I’ve been considering writing about in the near future include:

  • How can students best be served by academic advising?
  • My last lecture (things I would finally say)
  • Thank you, Diederik Stapel, for the lessons you taught me by your dishonesty.
  • Global Education
  • My most (in)formative learning experiences
  • Lessons learned from Robin the Newf
  • (Oh) Dear Carroll Alumni
  • On Immortality
  • Time
  • How technology can distance/enable/empower/enslave us
  • Reaching out, reaching within
  • The man who loves dogs students dogs
  • Loss of innocence
  • Labyrinths
  • The psychology of … (curiosity, religion)
  • Why I don’t give a Twit
  • Where do writing ideas come from?
  • What I wanna be when I grow up?
  • Distinguishing Science from Pseudo Science
  • Language—Leaving no Rosetta stone unturned

Which of these would readers like to see and, hopefully, discuss? I welcome your input, encouragement, or evidence that i have a readership.

Why Blog (Redux)?

I initially made a number of  many half-hearted attempts at blogging about seven years ago but didn’t seriously start using blogging tools until I was awarded an opportunity to become an online  “community blogger” as “Curious David” for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was during that year that I  discovered the seminal technology tool dissemination work of  my “virtual” mentor the indefatigable, never seems to sleep Jane Hart.  Thank you, Jane, for your idealism, generosity, and persistence. I value your collegiality.

I was also  blessed to have a supportive editor who gave me free license to explore Web tools and to write about whatever I cared to. Given freedom to explore I rediscovered the joys and challenges of writing. The following year I was given the opportunity to teach a semester-long course on Web learning tools to 25 Carroll (then) College freshmen. Blogging was one tool I introduced to them.

One of the best books about the history of blogging I have read is Suzanne Stefanac’s dispatches from blogistan.: a travel guide for the modern blogger. Thoughtful,witty, pithy, practical,thought-provoking—it opened my mind to the value of blogging tools.

I have investigated the relative strengths and weaknesses of WordPress, TypePad, Edublogs, Blogger, and Tumblr. In part because of the beautiful and lucid book Teach Yourself Visually WordPress by Janet Majure —I find I prefer the printed copy to the Kindle version— I have decided to invest a good deal of time exploring what WordPress blogging tools allow me to do. WordPress.com itself provides so many rich learning resources.

As Suzanne Stefanac points out, some blogs are linkfests, others diaries, some serve as club houses, others as news rooms, still others as soapboxes. I blog when I feel I have something to say that might be of interest to others. I have an enduring interest in life-long learning and enjoy sharing what I learn.  I have no particular interest in having a large number of followers, but do I cross-post to Linked-in, Twitter, and Facebook because those are venues that allow me to stay in touch with friends, former students, and people I learn so much from. I welcome comments and feedback. In the past few years I’ve corresponded with  a large number of interesting individuals from acoss the world who have enriched my life and informed my teaching and learning.

Here are some topics I am thinking of exploring in the new future:

  • Time
  • Popularizing (psychological) science with integrity
  • Favorite Books–or bookmarks!
  • On the strangulating limits of (over) efficiency
  • Ten psychological findings that have impacted my life
  • On replication
  • Fraud in Psychology
  • Best Courses
  • Canine Companions
  • Creativity
  • Current topics in psychology

Pensive Robin

Robin the Newf – My Canine Confidante
*Steam
Two research assistants too-soon-to graduate
Newf Teacher
Explaining to Robin where Newfoundland is.