Universities are being hollowed out

This letter was just published in the Irish Times

The parlous impact of managerialism on the sector is only too obvious: 52.4 per cent of all staff in Irish universities are not academics yet academics have seen a huge rise in their administrative duties to the detriment of time for research, teaching and contact with their students; the huge salaries commanded by presidents of universities, who see themselves as captains of industry, contrast ignominiously with the relative pittance earned by the rank-and-file lecture staff; and the cynical reduction of the number of tenured staff has resulted in 45 per cent of academics being employed part-time on salaries as low as perhaps €30 an hour, with no job security and no facilities to develop their teaching and research (many do not even have borrowing rights for the university library, a place to hang their coat, or an allowance to cover marking).

Live votes over WiFi during presentation

Live votes can increase participation of your audience but there are quite some technical challenges.

For my most recent presentation I have set up my own Wifi using an old Fritz! Box flashed with Freeze that can route all incoming traffic towards a Macbook (that is connected to the router by cable).

The Macbook itself is running a webserver that delivers the questions to the mobile phones in the audience. Mobile clients basically see this page


The presentation with all results is running in a Chrome full screen windows that is mirrored to the projector. It is basically an export from Powerpoint pictures that are shuffled around by a javascript framework (bespoke.js) with the inserted result charts being produced by d3.js.


All scripts are available per email request.

Datafication of Health

I had the unique chance yesterday to hear a talk of Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helsinki) about datafication of health. I think this is one of the most important topics of the last decade – being one of the largely underestimated, largely ignored development, but nevertheless relevant for the future of medicine. It basically means conversion of health into data (like Facebook is converting communication into data) which happens on multiple scales and at multiple levels. Her excellent paper at Annual Review of Anthropology was just posted a month ago and can be downloaded at the journal website (or at SciHub).

Minna Ruckenstein, ChipMe Meeting, Galway, Ireland

Recognizing that the datafication of the traditional health ecosystem is generating new power asymmetries and disrupting traditional regulatory and ethical mechanisms, some scholars have embarked on applied research projects, often collaborating outside their academic spheres. These citizen-centered initiatives appeal to patient organizations, savvy self-trackers, and ordinary people to address issues such as the tension between data openness and data ownership; asymmetries of data usage and distribution; the inadequacy of current informed consent and privacy protections; and the need to reappropriate and rearticulate concepts such as “sharing” and “the public good” that have been co-opted by technology companies seeking free access to their users’ data.