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Brooks on …


The best American colleges should be able to establish a magnetic authoritative presence online.

Margaret Soltan, May 3, 2012 9:34PM
Posted in: faculty project

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9 Responses to “Brooks on …”

  1. dmf Says:


  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    dmf: Yes – the whole question of whether / how non-profits will start to think about monetizing this endeavor is an important one.

  3. Mike S. Says:

    In 25 years there will be a spate of articles about the failure of massive data mining to live up to expectations.

    Same as it ever was: complex subject, new insight, new technology, rapid adoptation and what does it produce? The realization a generation later that things were oversold.
    For example, the catecholamine hypothesis of mental illness. Much more is known about physiology at the molecular level than 50 years ago but it did not produce objective diagnostics or specific treatments (at least no treatments that pharma didn’t lie to sell).
    AI is another example, predictions from the early days of computing have not yet been borne out but Watson can win Jeapordy and Deep Blue can win chess.

    When someone manages to predict the stock market with precision (while refraining from active manipulation or knowledge thereof) then I’ll believe data mining has earned its place.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mike S. – I agree. I doubt the MOOCs will have much to do with our learning about how people learn. That whole line strikes me as a kind of cobbled-together research justification for MOOCs. But since they’re in no need of such justification, I really don’t know why people are insisting on that. I guess researchers are looking for grants, etc.

  5. GTWMA Says:



  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Movimiento Argentino para la Producción Orgánica?

    … Oh… I get it – magnetic, etc.

  7. Alan Allport Says:

    Am I alone in wondering what the Big Fucking Deal is about MOOCs? Didn’t we go through this particular form of Tulip Mania about 15 years ago?

  8. david foster Says:

    “In 25 years there will be a spate of articles about the failure of massive data mining to live up to expectations”….I think this is probably correct. For one thing, this stuff isn’t as new as the hype would lead you to believe. People were doing similar kinds of analysis, albeit with more constraints, on IBM punched card equipment back in the 1930s. More fundamentally, too much focus on data mining/”big data”/”dashboards”/etc can again lead to the overemphasis on structured, quantitative data at the expense of unstructured and even anecdotal data that may well be more important.

    There are companies that are spending kazillions of dollars on “business intelligence systems” while completely ignoring the information that is accumulated daily by their front-line sales and service people.

  9. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Alan: I do think people should be more skeptical about MOOCs – but they are in fact quite different from the gruesome online ed stuff that has been dominating — the cheesy for-profit class taught by some salaried drudge… MOOCs tend to come from professors themselves; they are not (yet, at least) monetized; and they seem motivated, in many cases, by a passion for teaching and a passion on the part of students for learning. I don’t want to idealize these things – they can be as much about ego and dreams of eventually monetizing them as they are about a desire to democratize education. But for the moment many of them seem to me of pretty high quality, and quite promising.

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