Comment on Excellent Sheep by Allison

BILL GETS ME GOING TOOOOOO! Like haha I am always heated about Deresiewicz. And he was so deeply obnoxious even on his good points. I know I said I agreed with him in my blog post, but what I really meant was that I agreed with his overall topic that Stanford likes to tell us we are the most intelligent, when really we are just the most qualified by their standards which don’t necessarily equate to intelligence or intellectual vitality or whatever measures.

So much I think Deresiewicz misses the mark. He’s so overly influenced by his own experience (Like, bruh, just talk to your plumber. It’s not that hard!) And yes, schools have made more of an effort to bring in low income and first gen kids than he gives them credit for. That is super important and I think Stanford does a good job of that, at least on paper. I also agree with you that at Stanford it feels dominated by the rich and privileged, whether or not it is true. Let’s talk about this more in class!!!

I especially like your point maybe the solution isn’t about admissions. Maybe Stanford is picking the students that will do the best at Stanford. Maybe the real problem is that we get too much as Stanford grads. We don’t just get an amazing education and opportunity to be with amazing people (teachers and students). We also get the name and label that makes us “elite.” We get to walk into a room when we are 45 and be seen as intelligent and driven because we did well on a test we took as 18 year-olds. Deresiewicz is much more in favor of small liberal arts colleges or liberal public universities. Graduates of those schools can be impressive but don’t get the name branding we do here at Stanford. You said “an elite institution is definitely not for everyone.” So other colleges might be a better “fit” for someone, but what kind of incentive is it to choose “fit” if choosing a college affects not just your time in college but how you are viewed for the rest of your life? If we were in a society that didn’t hold elite colleges in such high esteem, I could entertain an argument for elite colleges not needing to fulfill their promise of harboring the ACTUAL best and brightest students. But since it does, I see admissions being maybe one way to address this issue. Maybe… definitely still figuring out my opinion on the topic.

Like I said, lets talk about this more in person!!

Comment on Hey, Credit Belongs to My Throwaway Account! by Tracy Vu

Good point–made me laugh, since I’m usually the lurker stealing jokes to tell my friends in real life. I think though one reason a person might want it attributed to their throwaway account is so that if it ever reaches sensational heights, the individual could “redeem” their identity. As we discussed in our small group, certain things like norms and fear of judgment often limit our participation. A lurker creating a throwaway account to post a joke might not foresee that their contribution would be such a hit and relish in anonymity in case their joke wasn’t that great. BUT if it got popular (think doge-status), wouldn’t you want to claim it?

What does Scobleizer Mean?


Just added the link to “Seven Needs of Real Time Curators”  For some reason the link on the Schedule & Texts page didn’t take me straight there.

I thought the blog post was really interesting but I’m not sure I get it.  I would certainly like input from others or discuss this on Tuesday.  I don’t really see what Scobliezer envisions for this perfect curation system.  I thought it was great that he explained reasons why it hasn’t been made yet.  Cross platform approaches are super hard because everyone has a different APIs. That seems clear.  It also seems obvious that companies are weary to make features that plug into existing platforms because that platform can just make the same product, usually with more knowledge of the platform and with more resources.  However, I think Scoble too easily dismisses the argument that no one will use that type of tool.  Even in the example he gives… that has to be a super social media focused mother of a 1 year old to want to include tweets from her party.  Of course a lot of people have a FB, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and whatever else social media account. On the other hand, lots of people specialize and would be more interested in an easy way to just curate Instagram or just curate Facebook.  For example, I’ve been really curious why Facebook hasn’t figured out a way for me to search posts that have come through my NewsFeed or even save and organize those posts.  So many people Share cool stuff but if I forget exactly who Shared it, it’s super hard to find it later.  But that is a problem for Facebook and just Facebook.  I see less value in creating a way to curate across platforms, for the average user.

I also think that I don’t fully understand Scoble’s vision, and like I said, would love to discuss what he is saying more.  In these “bundles,” what makes them so brand safe?  How is Coca Cola more interested in those bundles than a trend or hashtag?  Also how was Twitter monetizing?  Would I pay to integrate my Tweets into this curation platform?  I bet Twitter would make a lot of money off that in the same way King games does.  There is a small group of people that pays a lot of money to do well in mobile games.  Yes, Twitter would make a lot of money, but most people still wouldn’t use that feature, in my opinion.


It’s late.  Leave the Night On :-))

Comment on Excellent Sheep Cont. by Tracy Vu

Relating to the freshman’s comment, I remember when I was at Brown’s admit weekend. I attended a lecture and saw SO many students on their laptops on Facebook. Definitely not what I was expecting from an Ivy League.

Anyway, I think we could say that anyone would dick around if given that 20% time in isolation. When I’m in my room and have an hour to kill before my next appointment, I know I could be using it to do something valuable, or I could just chat to my friends on messenger…

I think what’s pretty cool about the Innovations class is that it has structure even though it seems unstructured. There are requirements (i.e. blog post, think of a project, etc.) and, even more valuable in my opinion, you’re surrounded by passionate students. Those are the key requirements to making the most out of that 20% time. I never feel like I have “free time” to fully pursue my non-academic passions, but if I were required to take out a block of that time and told, “HEY! Pursue your passions! Not Facebook” I think I’d be more inclined to actually do it. And to see other people excited or motivated really drives me, which is one of the reasons why I love Stanford. But that’s just me–I need a push to not be lazy (:

Comment on Excellent Sheep by Tracy Vu

I really wanted to go to this talk! Thanks for sharing what you heard. I’ve heard of Bill since freshmen year when we had to read “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” for my IHUM course (linked here: There were a lot of things I agreed with (the homogenizing effects of the culture at elite institutions), but almost as many things that I disagreed with (partly because he disregards the recent increased efforts of elite schools in bringing in first-gen students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and the effects it has on the student body and partly because he ignores the fact that his experience is that of an affluent, white man while for first-gens, being at an elite institution might be completely different).

However, when I first came into Stanford, I really did think that Stanford was teaching us to be sheep. You have the academic portion–lectures, then section, then midterm, then final, all for the grade. And also the dominance of upper middle class to way way way upper class students. As a first-gen, low-income student, it was a very difficult adjustment, and initially, I believed that everyone’s end goal was to make it big whether that be through fame or fortune.

But as I’ve matured and went through Stanford, I’ve realized that I’m less sheep-like than I ever was in high school. Getting anything less than an A no longer kills me. I don’t avoid classes because I think I’ll do poorly. I’m exposed to different types of thinking, and as I near the end, I’m trying to take as many different classes as possible because I’ll never be around so many different types of thinkers and scholars. I’ve also met so many people who have been motivated by things other than grades or money, and Stanford provided them the resources so that they could pursue those passions.

“Best” is also very subjective. While elite universities do strive for “diversity,” the whole student body can’t be that different. At the end of the day, everyone in our majors are taking the same classes. Stanford needs to know that its admitted students have the right foundation to take its more rigorous courses, and grades or GPA might be one of the more accurate indicators. Schools like Stanford are structured in a certain way that encourage the success of students who fulfill required qualifications. During class, you made an excellent point when you asked the high school teacher how he could justify having the Innovations class with students who are reading at a second grade level. Say you have a student like that who is brilliant in Innovations, but is still struggling with basic reading. If you put her into Stanford, how do you expect her to succeed? These classes are taught with an academic rigor (at least I think so) that relies on the expectation that people have established part of the academic foundation in high school.

I’m not sure if the solution is for Stanford to “pick” different students. I think that there may be more optimal settings for people with different types of knowledges or skill sets. An elite institution is definitely not for everyone, even those who “qualify” on paper. There may be other schools that are just way more developed in other areas of education that are more suiting. For example, while yes, we do have some of the best faculty members in all of our departments, I think some schools may allot better opportunities for undergraduate in certain departments (i.e. attention, programs, etc.).

To address your concern about picking more privileged students who have had the opportunities to engage in activities that will help them stand out (read this:, top notch universities are making it a priority to have supplement applications through programs like QuestBridge where high-performing first-gen, low-income students are able to give more color on their background, for which the typical college application doesn’t have too much space. For students like me, that’s where we were able to show what we WOULD be passionate about if we had the spare time or money. But it’s challenging for the schools as well–how can they adjust for the disparity in the quality of high school education so that first-gens don’t sink because their calculus teacher didn’t really go through a concept critical to Math 51 while all of the other middle-class students had it solidified through private tutoring? I guess I’m looking at it through the institutions point of view. A lot of good ideas are very hard to execute well.

However, what I do believe is that Stanford should make more of an effort to diversify its curriculum with courses that aren’t “sheep-like” with the student body it currently has. Have students take “Innovations”-like courses. Expose them to different classroom styles and environments (like the one we’re fortunate enough to have with Howard). Have classes where students actually INTERACT with each other. Show students from various socioeconomic classes jobs that they hadn’t ever even heard of and maybe serendipitously discover a passion for a new field (I had no clue what finance was–took me 3 years to figure it out and I found that I actually love it. One of the very, very few first-gens at the division I’m going into!). At this point in time, I think I’ve learned a lot from my time here, but a lot of those things I could’ve learned earlier (kind of why I took a fifth year–the Master’s is a bonus, too).

Anyway, sorry it turned out long, but those are my two-bit. Bill always gets me going.

Comment on Rooms – Facebook moves into the “anonymity” space by Tracy Vu

It seems pretty interesting. Sort of reminds me of the old chat rooms organized by interests through MSN. I haven’t used it since I haven’t seen the QR code or know anyone using it, but I’m sure it’d be handy to have a bunch of chat rooms around different interests all on one app. However, I feel like this “exclusive community” can promote an online environment dominated by groups of friends. Who else would you invite besides your own friend? But I do think it could be a good safety mechanism against trolls. I’d love to see how this app turns out. I think it could prove really useful in connecting people with interests that are different from their immediate friend group.

Comment on Rooms – Facebook moves into the “anonymity” space by Annie

I wasn’t aware of Rooms before reading your post, but I find it interesting that Facebook is trying to transcend the friendship-driven space that it has dominated and get into the interest-driven space. I think that Rooms might pick up and transform the interest-driven space, much as Facebook did for the friendship-driven one. Facebook capitalized on the space in which people transferred their actual friendships to interactions online, so I can’t see why it couldn’t do the same in the interest-driven space. After all, Rooms isn’t too far from a typical forum, and it appears to have more appeal in terms of its design. It’s a throwback to traditional forums, but I think that the added layer of having participants needing to be referred and having to scan QR codes may work in its favor, in that it enhances the sense of community for those who participate and the enhanced exclusivity plus the sense of community could be attractive to people if it isn’t seen as too much effort.

Rooms – Facebook moves into the “anonymity” space


I’m not sure how many of your saw the announcement on TechCrunch yesterday, but Facebook has just launched its newest standalone app Rooms,  that is basically a chatroom with restricted access with semi anonymity (such as AIM screen-names) that is focused on creating spaces for interests rather than just known friend groups. The idea behind this is taking the internet back to the beginning, as the creator says, “the way you organized on the internet wasn’t around your address book contacts or the people you went to high school with, it was around these kind of islands of people and things that you felt an affinity to: interests, topics, those sorts of things.”.

The adoption of Rooms is thought to be quite slow in the uptake because to join a Room you must scan a QR code either from a physical location or be sent it from a current Room member. The creator defends this saying that this is the point, to create exclusive communities instead of just a chat room of friends. It’s an interesting remake of a forum but backed by the biggest social network to ever exist. I’m not sure how I exactly feel about it, I can see it working but I can also see it never picking up.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll be joining Rooms anytime soon, will any of you?

Comment on Etiquette in a Technological World by Allison

Love this post! The conversation about too much device use is overplayed, but people rarely talk about the places where people don’t use their devices. I like that you are using those spaces as a point of comparison to see how we can enforce similar rules in places infiltrated with mobile devices.

It’s pertinent to note that people don’t use devices in the places you described because it directly takes away from the experience. I feel like getting people to unplug is about convincing people that using those devices in other spaces is similarly taking away from the experience.
That commercial and many others try to convince us otherwise and we totally buy in. People do a pretty good job of explaining why mobile device + driving leads to a worse experience (i.e. care accident), but exploring how we can convince people that it is detrimental in just everyday interactions is for sure an interesting question.

Side note: a huge reason people overuse devices is insecurity. I’m at Coupa right now and looking across at the all people waiting at Old Pro, it is pretty fun to pick out the one’s feeling awkward at the bar checking their phone so they don’t look toooo lame. Such a common practice– I do it more than I want to admit.

Excellent Sheep Cont.

Oh don’t worry… I’m not done.


During Deresiewicz’s talk at one point he said that elite colleges should provide a space for students to take time and explore their passions.  This yielded two reactions.  My first thought was about 20% time, which the students on Tuesday talked about and is a concept associated with Google.  It definitely made me think about what I would do with my 20% time and I came to the conclusion that it would have to be something creative.  I want to learn to do graphic design better, I want to stop being lazy and actually learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript enough to be able to sit down and craft a website, and I want to write.  I’m glad both yesterday’s talk and the students brought up that topic.


The other reaction was from one of my freshmen who sat next to me at the talk.  He leaned over and said, “If Stanford gave us ‘free time’ everyone would just go on YouTube and Reddit and do nothing productive.”  I thought that was just such an interesting comment and maybe true for a lot of us.  I guess, that’s what I was talking about with internal and external motivation.  There are people that if they had time really and truly allocated for nothing, that would rest, sleep, troll the Internet.  And there are some that would be coding, drawing, reading, etc.


I’m super intrigued by this.  Comments from anyone else?