All posts by jwaters33

Quantitative Research and its Misconceptions

In this week’s reading, author Franco Moretti argues about trends in novel literature over a span of several decades, and how literary history is defined by data sets and not by individual works. He states that:

Quantitative research provides… data, not interpretation. Quantitative data can tell us when Britain produced one new novel per month, or week, or day, or hour for that matter, but where… and why–is something that must be decided on a different basis.

While I do agree that quantitative data does provide data, such data sets are capable of exhibiting a limited form of interpretation. Collection of large data sets can be passed off to outside viewers as being completely unbiased, but for the most part, data mining does not exist for the sake of mining data; the motivation is almost never that circular. Big data, therefore, presents a watered-down form of interpretation of a subject through both the data it provides, and that which has been purposefully omitted from it. Applying a more concrete argument to a data set is essential to strengthening the claims made by both, but the fact is that data sets are assembled for specific, situational purposes, and therefore carry within them implicit arguments to be defined by the viewer/reader.

LINKED—Why Do You Play Video Games?


With time, video gaming has become an integral part of global culture, reaching across the globe as a popular and much hyped entertainment medium. However, while we regularly indulge in this medium, we don’t know the reasons why. What compels people to play video games? Is it just because video games are fun, or is it all part of something greater? In this essay, I will delve deep into the human psyche and the global culture, to answer the titular question: WHY DO YOU PLAY VIDEO GAMES?

Continue reading LINKED—Why Do You Play Video Games?

The Strongest Link: Finding Suitable Sources for Your Research Paper

My post revolves around my pursuit of the source denoted at the end of Page 5 in this week’s class reading; for those who didn’t know to which i was referring, it is 16 McGraw-Hill, “Building the Best Student Assessment Solution,” New York: Acuity, 2009.


I was actually surprised at the ease with which I found what I feel was the original source of information behind the citation; it was literally the second link I encountered when searching for the citation in full on Google. I found that the webpage contained a full-length PDF file explaining the Best Student Assessment, and I felt I could trust the site’s authenticity. I decided to experiment with three other sources found in the weekly reading and they, as well, were discovered within the first 5 links when searched on Google. I am not pointing this out to say that all research paper sources can be found this easily; I just assume I had good luck.

Regardless, finding a reliable source does not effectively constitute a research paper, and the source that is employed in its construction must be utilized in such a manner that its general focus coincides with that of the paper. In addition, the research paper must accurately refer to the source and make either make effective use or reinterpretation of its contents, to reinforce the paper’s claim.

In the case of Big Data and the Best Student Assessment Source, both the paper and its source promote the process of data mining (or data warehousing) as a new and effective means of pushing along student achievement and improving the student learning experience. Both the purpose of the paper and the source agree on this point, and the two possess a certain synergy when paired together, and serve to further reinforce the author’s claims on data mining in education.

Facebook’s Critical Number: 140.3 Billion



Note: I was encountering problems scaling the picture to the screen, so you’ll probably have to go to the link to see the infographic in full size. In addition, this blog post tackles infographics in general.

I’ve found this infographic in several Internet blogs, and in several entries on Imgur and Pinterest, but I dug deep as possible to find the closest to original source from which this image comes. Seeing as how it is a Facebook infographic, and its source (Facebook Newsroom) is pointed out in the bottom left, as the reader I safely assume that these statistics were acquired from Facebook itself, and not just made up; I trust Facebook as being the credited source of the data. However, despite the credit I give to this infographic, it took over an hour of digging through the Web to find a source I felt was authentic, or the most trustworthy. Considering the length of time I spent searching, and the dozens of sources I checked for authenticity, I hold the conviction that infographics are unreliable display cases of information until an original source can be found.

For infographics in general, not just the aforementioned Facebook statistics, I feel they are an effective means of organizing and displaying data, but they themselves cannot quantify an argument; they require a blog poster, a web editor, or some other outside entity to bend the information held within towards a specific argument, goal, objective, or what have you. Furthermore, I lose trust in a website or blog that sporadically uses infographics without citing their source, as the creator/editor of the post may have just carelessly slapped the image into the text to make it more visually appealing, doing little to nothing good for the structure of the post or its argument.

To be blunt, infographics should not be trusted UNTIL a primary source can be identified and drawn upon. Simply finding one on the web and thinking to oneself “Hmm, this looks trustworthy” without bothering to look into the source(s) may prove to majorly mislead the reader.

Adolf the Wolf: Analyzing the Dr. Seuss Political Cartoon



Apologies for the poor resolution: It’s the result of hunting for old political humor.

Resolution aside, this 40’s-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss reflects the United States’ sentiments towards the tyranny of Adolf Hitler, and the events leading up to the beginning of the Second World War (and arguably, the events that occurred after the initiation of the fighting, but before America’s involvement). The picture sets a mood of indifference, perhaps even enmity, towards the Europeans, particularly the nations that were victimized by and assimilated into the Fascist regime. Simply put, Seuss implies that America cared not in the slightest for those ill-fated nations that were flattened under the Nazi steamroller–nations like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria.

The ‘America First’ sweater hints at the daunting American crisis of the time–the Great Depression. With countless Americans jobless and crippled by poverty and a shattered financial institution,  the focus of the U.S.’s efforts were entirely internal, to the point that the rest of the world could be lilt aflame by the Fascists before America would turn its gaze away from itself.

Additionally, the cartoon hints at the anti-foreigner convictions many Americans developed due to the influx of immigrants at Ellis Island in New York, and Angel Island in California. The Depression gave many Americans an opportunity to lash out aggressively against minority races, particularly the Eastern Europeans who had escaped the tyranny of Nazi Germany. The Americans saw these newcomers as an added threat to an already unstable economy, and they would have nothing of them.

Finally, the image may be alluding to America’s disinterest in WW2 before the events of Pearl Harbor. Apart from the government’s financial backing of Great Britain, Americans for the most part would have nothing to do with the war, a conflict taking place far overseas, and having no direct effect on the homeland, harkening back to the “But those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter” comment.

Lifelogs: Unimportant Yet Unnerving

I haven’t directly created a lifelog for myself; I do not actively post pictures or update my timeline consistently on Facebook, nor do i have a Twitter. However, I do use Google everyday and I am aware that it tracks my location wherever I go. My lifelog is largely the product of my mother, the one who posts the majority of things related to me to her timeline, and then shares them with me. Facebook is creating a log of me indirectly through her, but the fact remains that my life, in photo and video form, is being stored and saved electronically. My strongest formulated thought on the concept (and process) of the lifelog is that while its existence is acknowledged, it does not necessarily constitute the whole of the advancements of the Internet.

I do find the whole concept of this never-ending collection of data by networks such as Facebook and Google to be slightly creepy at times, as if the Internet itself is creating a biography, or even an electronic mugshot,  of me whenever I use it, whenever I click a link or type down a few keystrokes to assemble a search item. However, I have grown used to this logging aspect of the web, and I feel that despite the logging’s unnerving nature,  it is a useful tool to gauge not only my life as it was in years past, but how the information the Internet collects about me can help solve problems I am facing in the present.

I do not often delve into my own past, and as such, the developing lifelog technology may be wasted on me. However, this also means that I will not abuse these technologies and services in the years to come as they will undoubtedly appear like the Remem in Truth of Fact. I guess what I’m try to say, to conclude this post, is that while I do acknowledge that the Internet is creating a lifelog of me, I will probably not be the man who looks at it for guidance, or even for reminiscence–it will just be a small blurb in the back of my mind, present yet forgettable.

TFTF Response Video

Here is my TFTF Response Video! I, uh… don’t know what else to say, other than that.

I focused the video on the question I found related most to my persona. I am very connected to the Internet, and as an avid MMO gamer, the question of how I portray myself on the web is constantly called into question. While I didn’t include specifics of my personal life in the video, the information I presented had very much to do with my Facebook activites, as well as my behaviors on gaming media such as Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.

One major point I thought about when I was making this video was my long distance e-relationship with my ex-girlfriend, and how, like on video games, how my integrity and trustworthiness were called into question every minute of the day. However, even if I did have more time to make this video, I feel that I wouldn’t have added any more points, as I was satisfied with what I had included.

The only real challenges I found in making a video over an essay was finding my computer’s integrated video capture software, and writing a script and making it fit into the 90 second time frame. I found making this video much easier to make an essay, as such a writing assignment instills a need to overprepare, and to be self-critical on a far higher level than with a video; I feel more natural and human being able to convey my opinions through speech rather than writing.