The Updates #20

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Week 20 of the updates and I'm shocked--SHOCKED--that I've kept this up!


Not enough work done here this week but the next two weeks I will be aiming for a transcript a day and finished up by the new year so January 1st onward is analysis, analysis, analysis.
  • 72 days until March 1
  • 86 days until March 15
  • 117 days until April 15
  • 166 days until June 1

LinkedIn Post about ChatGPT similar to what is written in the work paragraph
LinkedIn Post about ChatGPT
Well, last week I was reflecting on ChatGPT and its implications for education (You can even see the ongoing list of questions and answers I've asked and received from ChatGPT). This week, I had a little more real-world considerations as we discovered some students actually using. I'm so grateful for responsive and thoughtful faculty who reach out to me to collaborate about the best ways of navigating this tricky terrain and other issues as they arise. So that's where we are this week--trying to think about an intentional and inclusive policy that recognizes the benefits and opportunities to use ChatGPT and balance it with the concerns about how it could be used to misrepresent one's work. No matter what we do, we want to figure out something that includes the students' and faculty's voice.

What I'm Reading

The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Change Your World by David Robson: Robson probes a range of research studies in the areas of self control, diet, pain, recovery, physical ability, intelligence and other fields that's quite compelling to consider for anyone trying to make a difference in their own lives or others.  Time and again, research is showing us that our mental models and frames for things have a powerful effect on what happens inside our bodies and minds.  This is not a case for "the secret" or using new-age "believe it into reality."  Rather, it's a way of recognizing how context, intention, and framing can change the chances of better outcomes. It doesn't guarantee it but it can help us do better than operating under a limited, fixed, negative mindset (points that Robson reiterates).  The implications and uses of this book are substantially and it will definitely have me thinking about how that might help me in many different ways.  

Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson: A delightful straightforward and strange novel--like much of Jackson's work. Everything looks perfect until it isn't.  Natalie Waite is about to go off to college and it's probably for the better as her family life is filled with seething tension between her parents.  Yet college is filled with people who seem to love and hate each other simultaneously and there's a thief in the women's rooms that keeps taking things.  In the final arc of the novel, Natalie befriends someone who pushes her beyond her limits and the result leaves her questioning all of it.  Having read Stoner last week--a novel that also includes a depiction of college in the mid-20th century, Jackson's take on it does fit in nicely with Williams but adds a bit more edgier that is both interesting and fleeting.  

The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore: One of those stories with lots of stories. A group of people show up at The Grand Hotel and the night clerk gives them a tour of the facilities. In each room, they stop to talk to an inhabitant about who they are and how they ended up there.  Each person has a tale of the macabre or supernatural to spin about how they came to be there.  It's a fun novel that has its haunted elements but doesn't try to scare or freak readers out. It's the kind of dark tale that many can enjoy.

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell: I found this book, "meh." It was an amusing reflection on the characters that the author has witnessed in his bookstore over the years.  I might not have been in the mood when I listened but I just didn't find it that interesting or amusing.

Mazebook by Jeff Lemire: A book about the literal and metaphorical mazes that an middle-aged man finds himself in as he tries to resolve the loss of his daughter. Like Lemire's other work that explores the personal and the human condition, it has strong atmosphere and lingering depths that you ponder about after.  

The Passageway by Jeff Lemire: An interesting first gambit into his Bone Orchard mythos world that he's building over the next few years.  A geologist is sent to an island with just a lighthouse to explore a giant hole in the ground.  It, to no surprise, is not what it seems.

Little Monsters, Volume 1 by Jeff Lemire: Children vampires left to live on rats in an abandoned city for centuries.  However, some humans arrive and that changes the game.  Fun story telling from Lemire who knows how to use children to tell adult stories.  

Slash Them All by Antoine Maillard: Someone is murdering teens. But who it is and what motivates him is unclear but he walks the night like a slasher from the 1980s and some folks may have more of a target on their back than others.  A curious tale that warrants a reread to get past the violence and think about how Maillard is setting us up to see the teens, who survives, who escapes, and what the town has to do with it all.

What I'm Watching

Kindred: Watched the first episode of this and I'm intrigued.  They've made changes to the plot but thus far, I'm not feeling like these are having a negative impact. In fact, I think it works well in how they are modernizing it (the original novel was set in the 1980s, around when it was written).  

White Lotus Season 2: Finished the second season and the finale left much to be desired. We find out who the dead bodies in the sea are (not a spoiler as this is how the season opens).  Yet, there's nothing compelling or rooting for.  In that way, the season ends much like the first season where it seems like everyone is choosing the path of least resistance or most manipulative. And, maybe that's the mirror that the producers want to hold up to us, yet, that's a mirror that doesn't provide reflection.  If this is who we are, then we're not going to see that in this show. We're going to tell ourselves that we're different and we would make different choices than everyone else who we see as morally bankrupt. Or the show might be telling us to not be like these people and yet, that feels equally vague given how so many of the worst people get away with well, murder.  

This Week's Photos

LinkedIn Post about ChatGPT: I didn't find myself taking a lot of photos this week so I opted for a screenshot of the post I shared about what we're doing to spur additional conversation with folks on LinkedIn.

What's on My Mind

I'm listening to the book The 9.9 Percent--probably will be writing about it next week.  There's a discussion of meritocracy and the concept of how merit is something we earn and that we should look to uphold a system like that because it is fairer than at least anything else we've done as a society.  Putting aside the great many problems of meritocracies (and how they don't exist), the discussion had me thinking about the ways we talk about what we earn such as money, opportunity, and other forms of capital.  We often frame it as we have earned it--whether it is admission into an Ivy League school, a salary that leaves us with little to worry, or a house, we construct a narrative that we have earned it and therefore it should be ours.  

Yet, I would challenge anyone in the world of economics to be able to untie the knot that is, in each of those cases, "earn" hinges upon the choices and decisions of others.  That is, admission, money, even ownership of goods, are all granted by others.  Their decisions and their willingness to extend is what allows for anything that we claim to "earn".  Take other people out of the equation and the range of things that we can actually "earn" on our "merit" is extremely limited (hell, without other people, we don't even have language).  

In this framing, nothing is earned but rather everything is given.  This makes sense in some degree.  We don't earn life; we're given life.  We don't earn adulthood; we're given it through the care (even horrible care) that sustains us to get to adulthood. And so, that makes me wonder, is the only thing that we "earn" in the world is that which we can give freely?  It sounds strange, mayhaps, but it does make me wonder that if we framed our earning as that which we can (and should) give away, what might the world look like?  Would there be as drastic levels of inequality as we have seen (increasingly) over the last 30 years?  I don't know but there's something in that idea that I think is important in reframing our concept of merit and what we "earn".  

Till next week...

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