Twitter buzz 
My department has a widget on its homepage which lists recent department news, and I came in today to find that something had broken in the string of tin cans which I had relied upon turn the Facebook feed to RSS to Javascript to a news box. So the other things I had to do got put on hold while I tried to unbreak our website.

After some searching, I gave up on finding a solution that mirrors the Facebook feed. The same information, more or less, is posted to Twitter. And Twitter provides widgets for mirroring feeds.

However, actually getting one of the Twitter widgets required registering for Twitter. So I did. I had no interest in having a Twitter account for actually tweeting, but whatever.

Almost immediately, I got a notification that someone I know is now following me on Twitter.

[Insert hold music: dum dah dum, doo doo]

I got distracted mid rant. Returning to finish the post, I realized that I might actually prefer Twitter to social microblogging alternatives like posting on Facebook or Google+.

Twitter posts are in many ways like tiny webpages: You can get at them with third-party clients. They are public things that you can link to. You can aggregate or sort them in different ways.

Those are things which are good about the web.

Facebook posts and comments, in contrast, are kept inside Facebook's private garden. You can't link to them. You're at the mercy of Facebook's interface. And Facebook will filter what you and others see in whatever ways they decide to use for now.

So maybe I should use my Twitter account.

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UAlbany philosophy, still changing 
My colleague Bonnie Steinbock has retired after long and distinguished service to the department. There was a retirement party for her earlier this week. This time, we thought to take a group photo before anyone had left.


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Amalgamating ratings 
Although I haven't been following it closely, last year President Obama proposed rating universities using factors like affordability and graduation rates. TIME recently hacked together an example of how such a system might turn out for 2500 colleges and universities in the US.

The ranking is generated from just three components: graduation rate, percentage of students receiving Pell grants, and affordability (the inverse of cost).

The University at Albany comes in at a respectable 129th.

That showing depends on how the various factors are weighted, however, because UAlbany does not do as well given any of the components separately: 299th in graduation rates, 535th in Pell grants, and 277th in affordability.

The greater oddity is that none of these components indicate the quality of instruction offered by the institution. However, they might be as good a thing to base a decision on as alumni giving rates, which is a major component of the usual rankings.

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Albany is hiring in early modern 
My department is making a tenure-track search this year for an early modern historian of philosophy.

It has been several years since our previous search, and several things are different this time around. Jobs for Philosophers has now combined, Voltron-style with another source of job listings to make JFP/PhilJobs. We are going to be doing preliminary interviews via skype rather than in person at the Eastern APA. And I'm the search committee chair this time around.

It is unlikely anyone will read about the job on this blog who would not have seen it on PhilJobs anyway, but I'll take this chance to exhort you to apply if you fit the profile. Albany was not someplace I would have chosen before I got the job here, but it has turned out really well. I enjoy both the department and the city. I recommend both enthusiastically.

Our ad at JFP/PhilJobs
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UAlbany philosophy a'changing 
My colleague Robert Meyers is retiring after long and distinguished service to the department. There was a retirement party for him yesterday, and Bonnie Steinbock had the idea to take a group shot of faculty and staff past and present.


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