Saturday Evening Posts

In case you missed it, here are some articles that caught my eye this week:

As much as privacy is about one’s ability to control what others know about one, it’s also about protecting the freedom of the modern democratic society.

The processes that make our democratic and free society possible are built on transparent and fair decision-making. If you strip out transparency you end up with totalitarianism. The current practice of harvesting and analysing individual’s private and public data jeopardises the whole system of fair decision-making.

You can be a sharp writer and a nimble researcher who is skilled at analyzing cases. But for law school graduates entering the workforce, it’s the softer skills, like work ethic, collegiality and a sense of individual responsibility, that really impress legal employers, according to a new study.

Barely a week has gone by this year without some MOOC-related news. Much like last year, massive open online courses have dominated ed-tech conversations.

But if 2012 was, as The New York Times decreed, the year of the MOOC, 2013 might be described as the year of the anti-MOOC as we slid down that Gartner Hype Cycle from the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and into the “Trough of Disillusionment.” For what it’s worth, Gartner pegged MOOCs at the peak back in July, while the Horizon Report says they’re still on the horizon. Nevertheless the head of edX appeared on the Colbert Report this year, and the word “MOOC” entered the Oxford Online Dictionary – so whether you think those are indications of peak or trough or both or neither, it seems the idea of free online university education has hit the mainstream.

MOOCs expanded greatly in 2013 – expanded their partner institutions, expanded their course offerings, expanded their investment dollars, grew the number of students enrolled, and so on. But there were lots of questions along the way: who’s succeeding in MOOCs; how will MOOCs make money; how will MOOCs affect higher education; and how will MOOCs affect open education?

Richard Susskind’s popular book “The End of Lawyers” highlights a future where disruptive technological change and increased commoditization of legal services fundamentally changes the practice of law. Susskind and others have written on the power of automation, of computers not just changing the way we practice law, but possibly bypassing lawyers completely.

As algorithms take over an increasing amount of the investment market, and surgeons rely more on the precision of robots, what is to stop computers from taking over the practice of law?

Librarians and faculty in the disciplines tend to think differently about knowledge.

One of the major differences is that librarians have a tendency to think of knowledge as made up of things and faculty in other disciplines think of people.


Post-Thankgiving Errands

Post-Thankgiving errands
Post-Thankgiving errands by jkbeitz

This is exactly what I’m wearing as I grocery-shop for nut- and dairy-free ingredients to make cookies for post-Thanksgiving guests.

These pants, by the way (from Costco!), are awesome. I have three pairs. And you already know how much I love these t-shirts.

Insert obligatory Thanksgiving post here


Although somewhat expected, it’s probably a good idea for me to do some kind of an inventory of things I’m thankful for this year; it’s frankly been kind of a crappy year.

So! To shift my mindset, here are (some of) the things I am thankful for:

  • my good health
  • the good health of my family
  • the health insurance we all enjoy to keep it that way
  • reconnecting with (and making new) friends, in virtual and physical worlds
  • a job that challenges me and keeps me on my toes, in addition to paying me a salary
  • a daughter who does the same thing (except for the salary part)


Hope you all had a safe, happy, and abundant Thanksgiving. May we all be fortunate enough to do it again next year.

Forever Nuts

Forever Nuts is a delightful herbal blend from DavidsTea that’s perfect with a little Bailey’s, just before heading to bed.


It contains beetroot so it turns pink, especially if you add some kind of creamer. (Or Bailey’s).


One of the things I quite like about it is, the following morning, the leaves act as a really good blend with almost any of the black teas I favor in the morning, adding a great nutty flavor (especially to the chocolate teas I enjoy). I don’t typically have good luck re-steeping used leaves, but this tea is different. It’s very subtle, though, so I find I have to use a lot of it (as in, three to four teaspoons for a large mug) if I want a more robust flavor.

Definitely recommended. Simple, sweet, tasty. And caffeine free!

Don’t know if I should be pleased or embarrassed

As of this morning, I was the most prolific tweeter using the hashtag “aln13” (that was the designated hashtag for the conference I attended last week). Check to see if I still am here.

These seem to have been particularly endearing posts:

Sloan-C Conference wrap-up


I recently returned from the Sloan Consortium’s International Conference on Online Learning. It was quite fascinating and well worth my time (and employer’s money).

Law schools seem way behind other academic institutions when it comes to distance ed; mostly because the ABA severely restricts the amount of online courses students can take (from accredited law schools), and perhaps in part because legal academia is more conservative than other types of academia. (I think. I just made that part up). Still, law professors are incorporating more online learning in their courses (if you have a hybrid class where 1/3 or less of is online, then it doesn’t “count” as an online course), and law schools are offering certificate and LLM programs that are completely online. That was why I and my boss went to this conference: so we could better assist our professors who want to do this.

I counted three of us there as being from law schools (if anybody knows differently, correct me. There were over 2,000 attendees and the list of them was not organized in a fashion that I could decipher). People were sort of fascinated by us. (To be fair, we are fascinating). I was left wondering, as I often am at conferences, if there is really something different about law school/law students from other disciplines, or if this is something we (in legal academia) tell ourselves to make us feel special. I still don’t have the answer to this.

My notes, if you are interested.

Saturday Evening Posts


Selfies, Selfies and more selfies: so much so it is the word of the year and in order to celebrate and understand the concept of selfie, I decided to curate seven of the best pieces I have read around selfies.

Part 2 of my Top 10 Ed-Tech Trends of 2013 series

I’m not going to summarize all the education-related political developments from 2013. Pardon me while I skip over the Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind waivers; the impact of sequestration and the federal government shutdown of education programs; the Supreme Court’s Fisher v Texas decision; (failed) education in Tennessee to tie a family’s welfare benefits to children’s grades; “the missing Michelle Rhee” memo; Senator Alexander’s attempts to let Congress, and not peer review, decide who gets NSF money; court cases against administrators in Tennessee and Georgia involved in test-cheating scandals; the hiring of former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to head the University of California system; the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure in NYC (and as promised by newly elected Mayor Bill De Blasio, an end to many of Bloomberg’s edu policies); and the publication of Ron Paul’s book on education. Might I recommend instead POLITICO’s new education vertical, which launched this year – particularly its morning email that summarizes all your daily (US) politics-and-education news. (Or on second thought…)

When information is digital, it is nothing but strings of 1s and 0s. Unlike printed text or analog recordings, those 1s and 0s can be rendered in many different ways without changing the underlying information. This flexibility has the potential to throw the doors of disability wide open, letting in those who cannot see or […]

Online consignment shop for women’s clothing, Twice, has made the move to mobile, starting first with a dedicated app for iPad, out now. The company, founded in 2012 and backed by $4.6 million in outside funding, was already seeing over half its emails opened on iPad, indicating a need to better address users on this platform with a native experience. Now that the app is live, the company expects it will drive around 25% of all revenue post-launch.

I know that we’ve talked for years about the amount of information that people give out freely via social media platforms, but I haven’t seen any video that’s better than Jack Vale’s Social Experiment in showing strangers how much he can know about them just by reviewing their social media posts.

My favorite part of the video comes around the 3:15 mark where one of the ‘pranked’ victims says “Thanks for invading my privacy.” I don’t think he understands what privacy means. He’s not alone.

Yesterday Google Scholar Blog announced the launch of Google Scholar Library, a feature that allows a user to:

. . . save articles right from the search page, organize them by topic, and use the power of Scholar’s full-text search to quickly find just the one you want – at any time and from anywhere . . .

You’re able to use “labels” to organize the material you’ve saved to your library.

A user must log in to Google and via this link activate the Library feature.

In keeping with the theme of the evolving role of the law librarian, it may be time for law librarians to start thinking about online legal research instruction. Currently, Standard 306 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools allows for no more than a total of 12 credit hours in online or distance […]

Legal Futures this week posted on the results of the third annual survey of what clients want from their legal service provider, conducted by legal technology service provider Peppermint Technology in the United Kingdom.

The post included two points that caught my eye. First, the survey found that clients are concerned about whether their legal advisor is able to provide online accessibility:

“There is now a significant body of businesspeople for whom online access has become a necessity of their working life,” the report said. “If their legal advisers are not perceived to be up to speed with this development,


For anybody interested, my luggage is safe and sound and with me, after some undoubtedly exciting adventures in Atlanta.

Home again home again

Am only doing this quick note so that I technically complete all posts for NaBloPoMo this month.

Had an adventurous flight from Orlando. As we were getting ready to board, we were told that people in rows 37-42 had to wait for something to be attended to. I sort of assumed that there was a … vomit incident. Although one that wiped out six rows would be something else, I guess.

Well, we all boarded (even those in the errant rows), and had all settled in for about a half an hour. I was pleasantly dozing. Captain got on and said he had bad news: the thing that they had been trying to fix for the last hour was missing a part (I don’t know how it took an hour to notice that little problem), and they didn’t have any of said parts in the Orlando airport. So, everybody off the plane. Did I mention this was a full flight? And basically everyone (save me and the people behind me, who had been commenting on everyone else’s baggage the whole time) had stuffed all their belongings in “carry-ons”?

I dashed off and called Delta. They were able to get me on a couple of American Airline flights home, the initial flight left Orlando at 7:40. It was 7:00 at the time. The Orlando airport is very conveniently set up so that if you have to go between Delta to American, you have to jump on a tram, exit the concourse, enter a new concourse, go through security again, jump on another tram, and go to your gate. Also, I had to run to the AA counter and get a boarding pass, or I couldn’t get through security.

Long story short, I made it. Barely.

I have no idea what will happen to my luggage.