To Notice and to Learn

Observations on ideas, human mind, and the world around us

Get Introduced to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels…

I recently completed my first Learnist board, collecting reviews of each of Ishiguro’s six novels.  He is primarily famous for ‘Remains of the Day‘, but his other works are also really well-written and compelling.  His writing is famous for his emotionally-repressed ‘unreliable narrators’, his poignant writing style highlighting the interior mental life, and his demonstration of the weakness of memory. Learnist, if you are not familiar with it, is sort […]

Continue Reading →

Interview about new MOOC: Intro to Recommender Systems

Here is an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Professor Joseph Konstan on his upcoming MOOC about recommendation engines/systems, which has more than 20,000 people signed up.  It starts today, is free & open to anyone online, and is also the source of lectures for his semester-long on-campus class at the University of Minnesota.  He’s an early pioneer in this space, and the class should be highly informative.  People […]

Continue Reading →

How I Blog a Summary of a Nonfiction Book

Do you blog or want to blog about nonfiction books you’ve read?  If so, do you lean more towards summarizing their content or providing your commentary/reactions to the book?  How do you find that balance?  There are many ways to go about this depending on your purpose as well as your personal style.  I have an approach that works for me which I’ll share.  I tend to lean towards summarizing […]

Continue Reading →

A Heartfelt Note from a Humanities MOOC Professor

Amid the storm of controversy surrounding how MOOCs (massively open online courses, see a prior post here) will disrupt/enhance/destroy higher education, is a more basic question people ask is how suitable MOOCs are for teaching the humanities. It is true that most MOOCs have focused on science & technology subject areas, as many of the innovators are from the computer science department.  Also, these subjects are fairly amenable to one-way […]

Continue Reading →

Summary: The Stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker

In a Part I of this post, I summarized what I thought were the most interesting points in Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct.  Now, I’d like to continue on to his, in some ways, more impressive book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (link on  Since they are both related to language, how might I characterize the relationship between these two books?  Here’s what I […]

Continue Reading →

Nudge Idea: Reinforce foreign language vocabulary with (almost) no effort

Okay, in a previous post summarizing the book ‘Nudge’, I described the concept of nudges, in which you can reap large benefits from very small, seemingly effortless changes.  In my last post I described an example idea to help conserve napkins, which relied on a nudge to (hopefully) create enough motivation for people to undertake a small effort.  Now I would like to offer an example of what I think […]

Continue Reading →