The Canadian media have been very busy in the last few days trying to keep up with the story about members of Canada’s Senate making suspicious expense claims. However, at the same time, another dispute involving governmental expenses has been largely overlooked – the one involving Daniel Caron, the head of Library and Archives Canada (LAC). This past week, he stepped down when it was discovered Continue reading
New trends now start not from exhibitions or publications but from conferences. It was, after all, the 1966 conference at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man’, attended by [Jacques] Derrida and other Parisian savants, that first put the ideas of poststructuralism into circulation in America, where they were developed, institutionalized, and ultimately re-exported to Europe and the rest of the academic world.
(David Lodge, “Through The ‘No Entry’ Sign: Deconstruction and Architecture”)
The start of May is usually the start of my academic conference season, and as my previous post indicated, I recently spent a few days in the Boston area. I went there to attend MiT8, the “Media in Transition” conference that happens every two years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The conference is sponsored by MIT’s Communications Forum and the wonderful MIT Comparative Media Studies (CMS) program.
You might wonder how or why someone who works in a school of business administration ended up at a conference that has presentations on topics like slash fiction, snark websites, Farmville, sexting, and reality television. Continue reading
Boston is one of my absolute favourite cities. And so I was horrified, as we all were, at the bombing at the Boston Marathon and the chaos afterwards. When I’ve visited Boston, I’ve spent a lot of time in Cambridge, where the two bombers grew up and where they escaped to after the bombs went off. It was surreal for me to watch TV and see police in full combat gear running down streets that I know very well and where I always feel very safe.
I’m posting a few pictures that I took in Boston today, to show why I love visiting here. It’s a beautiful and resilient city, Continue reading
This week, a shock went through the Canadian media world with the leak of an internal memo predicting a very dark future for Vancouver’s two daily newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and the Province. The memo, entitled “Next Steps”, was written by Gordon Fisher, the newly installed president and publisher of Pacific Newspaper Group (PNG) – the division of Postmedia which publishes the two papers. The memo called the business “unsustainable” because of declining revenues, announced yet another voluntary buyout program for employees, and warned that the new “audience-first, four-platform organization” would “continu[e] to aggressively cut costs”.
Full disclosure: I am a former employee of both the Sun and the Province Continue reading
Back in October of 2012, British Columbia’s premier, Christy Clark, proposed the idea of a 10-year-long collective agreement for teachers in BC’s public school system. The proposal came after a long and bitter round of bargaining, which saw, among other things, a brief teachers’ strike that was shut down by back-to-work legislation, a BC Labour Relations Board ruling upholding the teachers’ decision to refuse volunteer assignments, and, eventually, a mediated settlement that produced a one-year collective agreement expiring in June 2013.
The idea of a 10-year-long collective agreement for the province’s teachers got a mixed reaction. Continue reading
Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us is being mentioned more and more as a good introduction to understanding workplace motivation. I’m not familiar with any of Pink’s other work, some of which has been fiercely criticized. But I was motivated (so to speak) to read this book because I teach about motivation in some of my classes, and some of my research deals with it as well. So I am always interested in what someone has to say about this particular topic.
Drive isn’t a textbook or an academic book. It’s a popular press book, and as such it’s clearly intended as a Malcolm Gladwell-style book – research experiments explained in an understandable way, and useful practical advice based on that research. The spare design of Drive’s cover even mimics the design of the covers of Gladwell’s books, and Pink’s writing follows Gladwell’s style of grandiose declarations and confident assertions. But, unlike Gladwell, Pink accurately describes the research he writes about, and I commend him for that. I also applaud him for explaining how motivation is both intrinsic and extrinsic (and pointing out that each kind has different effects), and for emphasizing that just throwing money at workers isn’t going to make them work harder. These are realities of motivation that often get ignored and which are always worth talking about.
Unfortunately, though, there’s more wrong with Drive than there is right. Continue reading
As a huge Kate Bush fan, it delights me to report that yesterday she was officially appointed as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to music”. The appointment was announced this past December in the 2013 New Year Honours List, but the actual ceremony was yesterday.
Here is her message on her website about the honour, along with a picture of her medal.