I was saddened when I woke up this morning to read that author Robert James Waller had passed away at the age of 77.
Waller was renowned as a romantic author. His books were praised in the press, but criticized because they exploited extramarital affairs. The subject matter of his two biggest best-sellers were men who pursued married women.
The top seller, Bridges of Madison County, appeared in 1992. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for over three years, which was the longest tenure for a title since the early 1950’s. Later, it became a movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Last year, I saw the Broadway production of the play at the Dallas Summer Musicals. His second major work, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, was also a huge success.
According to Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, Waller was an instructor in Management, Economics, and Applied Mathematics at the University of Northern Iowa from 1968 to 1991.
Waller died of cancer on Friday at his home in Fredericksburg, Texas.
A recent study conducted by Pew Research published on Friday, February 24 in the Washington Post, and distributed nationally by the Associated Press, indicated that Social Media users are “managing their privacy settings and their online reputation more often than they did two years earlier.” You can read the entire article by clicking here.
Nearly half of respondents said that they deleted comments from their profile, where two years ago, only 36 percent indicated the same thing.
Here are some other findings, published here directly from the article, that may interest you. The paragraph labels in red are my own.
Women. Women are much more likely than men to restrict their profiles. Pew found that 67 percent of women set their profiles so that only their “friends” can see it. Only 48 percent of men did the same.
Education. Think all that time in school taught you something? People with the highest levels of education reported having the most difficulty figuring out their privacy settings. That said, only 2 percent of social media users described privacy controls as “very difficult to manage.”
Privacy. The report found no significant differences in people’s basic privacy controls by age. In other words, younger people were just as likely to use privacy controls as older people. Sixty-two percent of teens and 58 percent of adults restricted access to their profiles to friends only.
Young Adults. Young adults were more likely than older people to delete unwanted comments. Fifty-six percent of social media users aged 18 to 29 said they have deleted comments that others have made on their profile, compared with 40 percent of those aged 30 to 49 and 34 percent of people aged 50 to 64.
Men. Men are more likely to post something they later regret. Fifteen percent of male respondents said they posted something regrettable, compared with 8 percent of female respondents.
Regrets. Possibly proving that with age comes wisdom, young adults were more likely to post something regrettable than their older counterparts. Fifteen percent of social network users aged 18 to 29 said they have posted something regrettable. Only 5 percent of people over 50 said the same thing.
Here is how the study was done. Pew Research conducted a phone survey of 2,277 adults in April and May 2011. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. The data about teens came from a separate phone survey Pew conducted with teenagers and their parents.
Are you surprised by this? Is your own use in line with these findings? What would you have said if you were surveyed with the same questions?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
Earlier this month, the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, proposed that Texas abandon using traditional textbooks in public schools and replace them with computer technology.
In the story, published by the Associated Press in newspapers across the country, Perry asked participants at a computer gaming education conference in Austin, “I don’t see any reason in the world why we need to have textbooks in Texas in the next four years. Do you agree?”
“Paper textbooks get out of date quickly,” Perry said, sometimes even before they reach the classroom. He noted that since he took office in 2000, some schools have used textbooks saying Ann Richards was governor. She served from 1991 to 1995. You can read the entire article here.
There is no question that authors can update electronic content faster than traditional textbooks. Indeed, by the time that a book is released for distribution, up to 18 months can have passed since the author wrote the material.
However, faster is not the equivalent of better. The Governor’s proposal removes a critical element of scholarship, and that is peer review, or refereeing.
When your child reads a traditional textbook, you can be sure that its content has passed strong scruitiny by expert reviewers. In most cases, at least three independent experts review the content of each book prior to publication. I know this because I have served as a reviewer for several publishing companies over the years, and my own co-authored book, Organizing Change, published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, underwent rigorous peer review.
If we allow authors to update their own material without subjecting those changes to referreed expert review, we are placing the quality of our children’s education in severe jeopardy. The entire purpose of having texts read by experts is to eliminate and correct factual errors before they reach the printed stage.
Two parallels come to mind. The first is the entire self-publishing industry, frequented by many of my colleagues who are members of the National Speakers Association. In order to get a book out quickly and effortlessly for back-of-the-room sales, they create their own work through a made-to-order publishing arm, using a process that bypasses refereeing. The second is Wikipedia, whose content is built by users, and whose corrections are formal and bureaucratic, but hardly scholastic in the tradition of academic review.
Maybe it is wrong that today’s students read that Ann Richards is Governor of Texas. But, the reality is that the history is true. She was the Governor of Texas. I would rather my children read accurate history than up-to-date fallacies.
Should this be an issue that affects his re-election at the polls? Do we really want a Governor who thinks that faster is better, and who is willing to sacrifice quality and accuracy for speed?
What about you? Send me a note so we can start some dialogue about it.