MonthFebruary 2013

30% Of Community College Grads Out Earning Those With Bachelor’s Degrees

CNN reports:

Nearly 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. In fact, other recent research in several states shows that, on average, community college graduates right out of school make more than graduates of four-year universities.

The average wage for graduates of community colleges in Tennessee, for instance, is $38,948 — more than $1,300 higher than the average salaries for graduates of the state’s four-year institutions. [...]

And while by mid-career, many bachelor’s degree recipients have caught up in earnings to community college grads, “the other factor that has to be taken into account is that getting a four-year degree can be much more expensive than getting a two-year degree,” Schneider says.

Full Story: CNN: Community college grads out-earn bachelor’s degree holders

Another issue is that “mid-career” might not ever exist for many of today’s college graduates. But it’s worth noting that these sorts of comparisons aren’t apples to apples — not all degrees are created equal. That’s also the problem with most studies that show that people’s with bachelor’s degrees out earn those who don’t have one. Someone with an associate’s degree in HVAC repair may very well out earn someone with an art history degree, but someone with a computer science degree will likely out earn them both. But I like that this study supports the fact that there are alternatives to getting a four year degree just for the sake of earning it.

Follow-up Chat With Chris Dancy, The Quantified Man

My profile of Chris Dancy for Wired generated so much interest that we did a follow-up video chat where we took questions from readers about how much time he spends collecting data, how much is too much, etc. The video is embedded above.

Is Speed Reading Actually Possible?

Brian Dunning writes:

To truly measure reading speed, we’d have to draw a line at some minimum acceptable level of comprehension.

Ronald Carver, author of the 1990 book The Causes of High and Low Reading Achievement, is one researcher who has done extensive testing of readers and reading speed, and thoroughly examined the various speed reading techniques and the actual improvement likely to be gained. One notable test he did pitted four groups of the fastest readers he could find against each other. The groups consisted of champion speed readers, fast college readers, successful professionals whose jobs required a lot of reading, and students who had scored highest on speed reading tests. Carver found that of his superstars, none could read faster than 600 words per minute with more than 75% retention of information.

Oh, and you know how speed reading instructions tell you not to subvocalize? Apparently that’s impossible — if you’re actually comprehending the words, you’ve gotta subvocalize.

What does work: practice.

Full Story: Skeptoid: Speed Reading

The Quantified Man: How an Obsolete Tech Guy Rebuilt Himself for the Future

Chris Dancy

I wrote about the extreme quantification of work for Wired:

Tesco — the company that runs a chain of grocery stores across Great Britain — uses digital armbands to track the performance of its warehouse staff.

A former Tesco employee told The Independent newspaper that the armbands provide a score of 100 if a task is completed within a given time frame, but a score of 200 if it’s completed twice that fast. “The guys who made the scores were sweating buckets and throwing stuff around the place,” he told the paper.

Tesco representatives said the devices allow users to switch into a “break mode” for up to 25 minutes a day. But that anonymous employee claimed that using the toilet without logging the trip as a break would result in a surprisingly low score, even if the task was finished within the allotted time.

That’s just one of the many ways that employers are using technology to track employee productivity. Call centers have long used metrics such as call time to rank employees, and gamification software may take it to new levels. Darpa wants to track soldiers’ health. Apparently, IBM has a tool for detecting disgruntled employees. And Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has boasted of a “Chatterlytics” system for ranking employees on their use of the company’s internal social network.

Our work is being re-quantified — in a big way — and Chris Dancy, a director in the office of the chief technology officer at BMC Software, thinks it’s time for employees to take these metrics into their own hands. “If you can measure it, someone will,” he says, “and that somebody should be you.”

Dancy is connected to at least three sensors all day, every day. Sometimes, it’s as much as five. They measure his pulse, his REM sleep, his skin temperature, and more. He also has sensors all over his house. There’s even one on his toilet so he can look for correlations between his bathroom habits and his sleep patterns.

He’s on the cutting edge of the “quantified self” movement kickstarted by Wired’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly. But it’s not just his body and environment that Dancy tracks. He constantly takes screenshots of his work, and everything he does — every meeting, every document he creates, every Tweet he sends, every file he shares, every screenshot he takes — is logged in Google Calendar, providing him with a timeline and his entire work life. If you ask him what he did on a particular day, he can tell you with great precision.

And he thinks every white collar worker will need to adopt a similar regimen soon.

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: The Quantified Man: How an Obsolete Tech Guy Rebuilt Himself for the Future

See Also:

The first half or so of Marshall Brain’s design fiction novella Manna

The Rise Of Workplace Surveillance

Previously Unreleased Coil Tracks

Frisk film cover

A treat for all you Coil fans:

Oh my…yes, I do believe I have a show stopper for you all. This soundtrack to Todd Verow’s film adaption of Dennis Cooper’s novel “Frisk” (IMDB info here) features original compositions by both Coil (also using their alter ego ELpH here) and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, as well as a handful of pieces they’ve co-composed and/or have had pastiched together, medley-style. All of this loot has languished on this soundtrack up till this point without any formal release. Now, here it is for your collective predilection and as a stand-alone gesture in its own right, it works a charm.

Full Story (and download link): COIL/ELpH/LEE RANALDO-FRISK-ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDING, UNRELEASED, 1996, UK/USA

(Thanks Zir)

Also, last November a group of fans raised money online to buy the rights to a bunch of previously unreleased Nine Inch Nails remixes that Coil did for the Fixed album. You can learn more and download it here

Uncoiled album cover

Distopian Literature: Marrying Up

“Marrying Up” by Diane Cook, a disturbing story with a surprising ending.

“What if someone needs help?” Did I mention he was also a very good-hearted man? He was.

“No one needs help,” I said, feeling like an awful person. “It’s a trap.”

He looked at me like he didn’t know who I had become. I was so ashamed I couldn’t look back, even though I knew I was right.

“Someone needs help,” he said resolutely, shrugging on his robe. I’m told he fought hard, scrappily, but was dragged to his knees, and then dragged down the street. Bits of his torn pajamas blew around the neighborhood for days afterward.

Eventually, I married a man more than twice my size. He terrified me. Making love felt like getting run over. I was pancaked like in cartoons. My ribs crunched if he was on top, and my hips were belted with bruises if he was behind. He twirled me until I puked.

Full Story: Guernica Magazine: “Marrying Up” by Diane Cook

Rap Stars Turn to Punk Aesthetics

punk-jacket

Former Technoccult guest editor and EsoZone co-organizer Nick Pell drops some knowledge on Vice:

Hip-hop and punk were born at about the same time (the late 70s), in the same place (New York City), with the same rebellious and aggressive spirit; however, their fashion aesthetics have always clashed. Although there have been some instances of style cross-pollination—Public Enemy rocking Minor Threat gear, Lil Jon cloaking himself in Bad Brains apparel—rap stars have traditionally liked things loose-fitting, expensive, and flashy, while punks go for tight, ripped, and dirty.

Full Story: Vice: Anarchy in Hip Hop

(FWIW, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge says Lil Wayne was seen performing in a TOPI Psychic Cross hat)

The Rise Of Workplace Surveillance

The Independent reports:

The former employee said the device provided an order to collect from the warehouse and a set amount of time to complete it. If workers met that target, they were awarded a 100 per cent score, but that would rise to 200 per cent if they worked twice as quickly. The score would fall if they did not meet the target.

If, however, workers did not log a break when they went to the toilet, the score would be “surprisingly lower”, according to the former staff member, who did not want to be named but worked in an Irish branch of Tesco. He said that some would be called before management if they were not deemed to be working hard enough. “The guys who made the scores were sweating buckets and throwing stuff around the place,” he said. He said the devices put staff under huge pressure and many of his colleagues using them in Ireland were eastern Europeans, with limited English. He said lunch breaks did not result in staff being marked down. Tesco confirmed that the devices were also in use across its UK stores.

Tesco in Ireland told the Irish Independent that a “break” function could be used to register genuine stoppages and around 25 minutes had been allowed per day for that. But any other time would be monitored. A Tesco spokesman told The Independent: “Arm-mounted terminals are a working aid and at no time are they used to monitor colleagues while on their breaks. They make it easier for our colleagues to carry out their role as they don’t need to carry paperwork around the distribution centre.”

Full Story: The Independent: Tesco accused of using electronic armbands to monitor its staff

Alternet’s coverage has even more examples of employees being monitored.

(via A.Lizard)

See also:

Monitoring Employees Online Behavior – When They’re Not at Work

Time Wars

The Dark Side of the Gamification of Work

On attention, myware, and the precience of Headmap

Free Online Comic From Invisibles/Seaguy Artist Cameron Stewart

Panels from Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart

Cameron Stewart is known for his work with Grant Morrison on Batman and Robin, Seaguy, Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian and a few pages of The Invisibles, amongst other things. But he also wrote and drew a serialized online comic called Sin Titulo, a surreal mystery in the vein of Haruki Murakami or David Lynch that won an Eisner award. It will be released in print later this year by Dark Horse Comics, but you can read it online now for free.

Sin Titulo

Interview with Stewart on Sin Titulo

Alan Moore, Art Spiegelman and RZA Head Up New Comics Line

ballistic_issue_1

Black Mask Studios, the recently formed transmedia publishing company — founded by comic book writer Steve Niles, entrepreneur and transmedia production shingle Halo-8’s Matt Pizzolo, and Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz — has recruited some of comics’ biggest guns to help create their first wave of comic book titles.

Among the luminaries participating are Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore, V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd, Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus creator Art Spiegelman, The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard, Mike Allred (Madman), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League, Spider-Man), Molly Crabapple (Shell Game), as well as Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Ghostface Killah.

And there’s not a superhero in sight.

Full Story: Hollywood Reporter: ‘Watchmen,’ ‘Walking Dead’ and ’30 Days of Night’ Creators Launch Black Mask Comics

(via Hal Phillips)

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