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Eszter

Saturday art blogging: Kitchen Trees in Manhattan

by Eszter Hargittai on October 13, 2018

One fun aspect of public art is that you can stumble into it without any planning on your part to have an artistic experience. Such was the case when I found myself staring at columns of colanders and looking up at fruits and vegetables hanging from pots and pans in City Hall Park in New York. The exhibition is by B. Wurtz who likes to draw on everyday objects in his work. Since I am a huge fan of reusing objects, this appeals to me a great deal.

Another neat aspect of public art in such a location is that by taking a step, you can get an entirely different visual experience. With both trees and scyscrapers in the background, this is not an exaggeration. The pictures on the exhibition site were taken in daylight while mine (see album on Flickr) were taking during dusk so they offer different views from that perspective as well. The trees will be on display in this park through December 7, 2018.

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Saturday art blogging: I am your father!

by Eszter Hargittai on October 6, 2018

In a small town in the French-speaking part of Switzerland is a fantastic exhibit dedicated entirely to Star Wars. It showcases several artists using very different media to pay homage to the popular series. From digitally-edited photographs of classical sculptures to various creative 3D-renderings of well-known characters, from photos of lego scenes to drawings in countless styles, the exhibit offers lots of interesting visual stimuli. It’s hard to pick a favorite. I very much appreciated Kyle Hagey’s pieces and can’t believe I had never come across them before. Conveniently, you can view and buy copies of his work on Etsy. There is also a free-to-play Star Wars pinball machine on the top floor of the museum as well as an old-school video game. This is a must-see for any Star Wars fan. The show runs through Oct 14th. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to visit and as far as I can tell, sadly it is not a traveling exhibition. While not the same experience, I did upload some of my photos here for those who are interested, but can’t make it there in person.

Saturday art blogging: Sculpture Milwaukee

by Eszter Hargittai on September 29, 2018

For any public art lover or sculpture lover, the Sculpture Milwaukee exhibit will be a thrill. Along the city’s Wisconsin Avenue, the event showcases over 20 pieces. There are additional sculptures along the way to enjoy that are not part of the exhibition per se. The styles differ considerably and many are good conversation starters. It’s worth visiting in person, but if you can’t, you can see the pieces here, captured during my August visit. The exhibition runs through Oct 21st.

Posters for your March For Our Lives event

by Eszter Hargittai on March 20, 2018

Are you participating in a March For Our Lives event this coming Saturday, March 24th? There are hundreds of events taking place across the world. And now you don’t even have to worry about what sign to carry. Members of Action Together Zurich have created March For Our Lives posters, 89 of them (plus two to carry up front for some context). Each one is unique, with the front listing a common-sense gun bill that Congress has failed to act on, and the back listing the names of gun violence victims. The idea is for folks to print out the posters for marchers to carry at their local March For Our Lives event. Please spread the word. Bit.ly/mfolposters is the link to share.

Sunday photoblogging: clouds

by Eszter Hargittai on September 3, 2017

Clouds over LA As of this past week, I’ve posted over 500 photos in my “a sky photo a day” project. I love taking a moment each day to look up and see what patterns, or lack thereof, surround my area.

This was the January 22, 2017 shot. I was at the Getty in Los Angeles when this curious cloud formation appeared. I have more photos of the neighboring sky on Flickr if you’d like to explore. Does anyone have any idea what would result in this? I was so intrigued.

Come work in Zurich

by Eszter Hargittai on July 21, 2017

Last week, I shared a bit about what my work day looks like. Want to come be a colleague? My department, the Institute for Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich, has two open positions. Applications are due soon, rather out-of-sync with the usual US job market time line for this field, so I’m trying to spread the word. If you know of academics for whom these positions may be of interest, please share the info with them. One is a tenure-track assistant professor position in political communication, the other is an open-rank position in media politics/media policy. Knowledge of German is not required although an openness to learn it is. I teach all of my classes in English. Starting my fourth year I may be asked to do some of my teaching in German. It’s a great work environment and it’s a wonderful city!

Wait, so what is this science-a-thon thing?

by Eszter Hargittai on July 13, 2017

I’m nine hours into posting for science-a-thon and someone (thanks, DT!) finally asked me to clarify what the fundraising is for. I didn’t realize that accessing Tracey Holloway’s description of Science-a-thon—which is what I used for explanation—requires a LinkedIn login so I’ll copy her note here:

From Tracey Holloway:

Hi All –
You’ve probably heard about the study that over 80% of American’s can’t accurately name a living scientist—and my guess is that the numbers are similar when asking “what do scientists actually do?” Of course, we do lots of things – work in labs, go out in the field, teach classes, program computers – but the public doesn’t get to see this.

As a large-scale public outreach initiative, and the first major fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), we’re launching Science-A-Thon. … an international “day of science” where participants share 12 photos over 12 hours of their day. From morning coffee through the ups and downs of a day in the life of a scientists (any scientist, any field of STEM, students, professionals – all are welcome).

We already have 100 scientists signed on – lots of earth scientists of course, but also cancer biologists, computer scientists, and more. Men and women, from 10 different countries so far. We’d love to have you! Just go to scienceathon.org/how to sign up. (And you’ll get a great “I love science” t-shirt)

If you’re not up for showcasing your own day, you can support ESWN and Science-A-Thon by sponsoring your favorite scientists (like me!)

Even if you’re not interested in donating to the cause, I highly recommend checking out the #scienceathon hashtag on Twitter as it’s a great way to get a sense of what a scientist’s day looks like. You can see my own Twitter photos here or on Facebook if that’s your preference. Or simply as updates to my earlier CT post today. Actually, I’ll make it easy and am copying the material to the bottom of this post.

Thanks to those who have contributed, I much appreciate it! Perhaps now that the goal is clearer, others will join in. You can donate here, any amount appreciated.

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How to Think about Digital Research

by Eszter Hargittai on July 13, 2017

As part of #scienceathon, I want to give some context to my work. My PhD is in sociology, but I work in a communication department (for 13 years I was at Northwestern University in the Department of Communication Studies, for the past year I have been at the Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich). In 2002, when I was on the job market, colleagues in communication seemed much more interested in my work than sociologists so I decided to pursue that route. Of course, some sociologists were very supportive, including my wonderful advisor, but others seemed to see any study of the Internet as a joke. I still remember an interaction in 2008 (!) where a well-known and very established sociologist introduced me to her sociologist colleague using very kind words to describe my work only to have said colleague laugh as though the introduction was meant as a joke since how could a sociologist possibly take the Internet seriously? A few awkward moments followed, but I wasn’t new to it (although a bit surprised for it to continue happening). In any case, I’ve very much enjoyed being in this line of work. But skepticism likely still exists. Although addressing the skeptics wasn’t really our goal, the introductory chapter [pdf] my co-editor Christian Sandvig and I wrote to our edited book Digital Research Confidential can serve as some guidance to such people as well. In it, we discuss the Internet as instrument and the Internet as object of study. We thought it was a helpful intro to the ten chapters that follow describing the behind-the-scenes details of how empirical social science about studying behavior online gets done. I thought it fitting to post about it as part of Science-a-thon since this day is about how researchers work and that entire volume is about the messy reality of everyday research endeavors as compared to the polished versions we see in published accounts.

You can contribute to Science-a-thon here.

It’s Science-a-thon!

by Eszter Hargittai on July 13, 2017

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am participating in Science-a-thon today, which has two goals: show the world what the day in the life of a researcher looks like and raise money for science. I will be posting twelve images as updates to this post throughout the day. (I won’t overwhelm the feed by making each image a new post.) I will also be writing about issues related to doing research. My first image is of the main University of Zurich building that I passed with the tram this morning on my way to my office. (For those who’ve been reading CT for a while, yes, this is a change, I moved institutions and countries last year.) If you’d like to support science-a-thon, you can do so here: http://bit.ly/scienceathon. I’m 23% toward my goal of raising $1,000 as of this morning.

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Next Thursday, July 13th, is Science-a-thon and I will be participating by writing several posts and sharing pictures about how science gets done. If there are questions you’d like me to address, please post in the comments as I welcome suggestions for topics to discuss.

Science-a-thon is being organized by a graduate school friend of mine, Tracey Holloway, who is an Earth scientist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The idea is to showcase in 12 pictures throughout the day the work that scientists do with the goal of raising public awareness. I decided to join even though my work is rather different since I very much support the cause of raising funds for science. Here is my fundraising page if you’d like to support the effort financially. Or if you’re a scientist and would like to join Science-a-thon yourself, you can do so here.

Getting creative in a computer science course

by Eszter Hargittai on June 24, 2017

Lane Tech College Prep CS Chicago Flag

There are lots of stats out there about how seriously computer science (CS) education is lacking in the United States (and I suspect many other places). Issues range from high schools not offering computer science classes at all to CS classes not counting toward graduation requirements. There are exceptions, however, and I wanted to highlight a very impressive project from a CS class at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep High School taught by Jeff Solin. Jeff had his students create a 3D representation of the Chicago flag. Check out his description and many pictures of the finished project. There is so much creativity in that project! So neat and so impressive.

Doodle some music

by Eszter Hargittai on June 22, 2017

Today’s Google Doodle in honor of Oskar Fischinger’s 117th birthday is very impressive and fun. Click on the image on the linked page and then click on the image again. Click on the little squares to create your music. You can change all sorts of aspects of your creation by clicking on Modify on the bottom and making various selections on the left, and also by changing the instrument on top. (Note that as far as I can tell, changing the instrument reverts to a clean slate so take care with the timing.) Enjoy!

Would you eat bugs? How about a dog?

by Eszter Hargittai on May 21, 2017

In my German class in Zurich this week, we read a piece about how important bugs may be to the future of feeding the planet thanks to being high in protein and having considerably lower environmental costs for production. Several of my classmates seemed visibly disturbed by this. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten bugs before – have you? – but I don’t have a problem with the concept. I’m not a vegetarian and don’t see why I should be any more put off by bugs than a cow or a chicken. If I think about the origins of a cow or a chicken, I may wince, but I still like the food. Why would that be different with bugs?

In the domain of animal consumption, Switzerland tends to garner outrage, because it is legal to eat cats and dogs. This may be disgusting to many Europeans and Americans, but it’s not at all uncommon in countries elsewhere such as in Asia. It is clearly in many ways a cultural issue. While many Europeans and Americans don’t think twice about eating cows and pigs, they are not on the menu elsewhere. (I purposefully said “cow” and “pig” in that last sentence instead of “beef” and “pork”. Why don’t we just say the animal at hand? I enjoyed the ponderings on this MetaFilter thread about that question although didn’t really get a satisfying answer.)

Growing up in Hungary, I ate cow tongue on occasion, something quite tasty, but clearly revolting to some who had never considered it (I base that on personal experiences talking to folks elsewhere about it). Unless you are a vegetarian, it seems it would be hard to make the case that one animal is okay while another is not as long as it is produced and prepared under healthy conditions. (And let’s not even get started on how much of the meat we consume anyway would not qualify as such!) Should pet Miss Piggy be an easier case for dinner than pet dog Spot?

Curiously, the author of the piece advocating for bugs as a source of nutrition and who herself eats them said that she is a vegetarian due to ethical reasons. I cannot reconcile then, how she can justify eating bugs. Anyone want to defend her position?

The mystery behind a group of electoral maps

by Eszter Hargittai on October 23, 2016

Yesterday, when I was going through my Facebook feed, I saw several people in my network post a copy of the map below. (As far as I could tell, 9-10 people in my network had shared it, I figure this from the fact that I saw two and then saw a link “8 shares” or “8 more shares” below them.) To clarify, the images I saw were posting the map without the question that I overlaid on it. I am not posting the original so as not to perpetuate what I think is likely misinformation circulating. As a point of comparison, it is very rare that that many people in my FB network post the same thing, or at least FB doesn’t seem to suggest it often. Three of the people who posted it were academics, one works in the policy realm, all work on Internet-related topics. I mention that simply to note that people of all sorts may be prone to spreading online what seems like factual information without necessarily knowing its source. (See below for more on why I don’t know who the other people were, a bit of a mystery in and of itself.)

Seeking source for group of electoral maps

As far as I can tell, there is no source listed on the image. My searching led to all mentions of it linking to the same image-sharing site, one that as far as I know is associated with people sharing images on Twitter. There are lots of mentions of it on Twitter. But scrolling all the way to the end doesn’t clarify (not on my list of results anyway) who may have been the person to share it on Twitter first since the first link I see actually uses a Facebook short URL. (I guess that could have been the person, but there is nothing to confirm it. There seem to be all sorts of FB links on that person’s Twitter feed that no longer exist.)

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PSA: ATM skimmers

by Eszter Hargittai on June 28, 2016

I suspect – hope – many have heard of ATM scammers, people who try to get information about your card while you are withdrawing cash from an ATM. I will usually look at a machine to see if it looks like someone has tampered with it and I always use my other hand to cover the one entering the PIN. Perhaps that’s silly, but it’s not much of an inconvenience and it’s routine for me now. But as far as I know, I have never encountered an actual ATM skimmer, thankfully.

A security expert happened upon one during his travels recently and captured it on video. In addition to reading his account of it, I highly recommend a careful look at this image from another observer who breaks down very carefully how some components of the ATM (most importantly the section next to where you insert the card) was different from the adjacent ATM that did not have a skimmer. That is likely where the camera resided. In addition to the skimmer, there is usually a camera nearby that captures your motions entering the PIN (if I am understanding this correctly, but do correct me if I am wrong), which is why I tend to cover my hand (and have noticed that now some machines supply some coverage themselves). Snopes has pictures of another version, an older model.

I found the video interesting as I find actual examples of such things helpful thus this public service announcement. Hopefully no one here has related experiences, but if you do, please share.