Friday, December 31, 2010

UW-Madison #1 in online brand presence in 2010 ... ahead of Chicago, Harvard, MIT and Columbia

Wisconsin was the top U.S. university in terms of online brand presence in 2010, according to the annual TrendTopper MediaBuzz university ranking released yesterday by Global Language Monitor. The University of Chicago, Harvard, MIT and Columbia rounded out the Top 5.

While other privates, including Stanford and Princeton, did not make the Top 10 this year, UW-Madison moved up from #6 in the 2009 rankings.

Some technical background from Global Language Monitor on the models and indices underlying the rankings:
"The list is compiled using a mathematical model to measure the 'brand equity' of colleges in terms of their global impact on the Internet and social media during the year.  It indexes standardized "data collected from the Internet, social media, and blogosphere as well as the top 75,000 print and electronic media.  The end result is a non-biased analytical tool that provides a gauge of relative values among various institutions, as well as measures of how that value changes over time."

Monday, December 06, 2010

YouCut: Crowdsourcing anti-science sentiment?

House Republicans recently presented their latest piece of anti-science campaigning.  This follows a failed amendment by Senator Tom Coburn earlier this year to cut off money for the National Science Foundation’s political science program. And funding agencies have been in the campaign crossfire before. During the 2004 election cycle, Congressman Brad Miller was targeted in a campaign ad for having voted against a Republican amendment that would have forced the National Institutes of Health to cancel five specific research grants, including four mentioned in the ad:
"Brad Miller voted to spend your money to study the sex lives of Vietnamese prostitutes in San Francisco.  Instead of spending money on cancer research, Brad Miller spent your money to study the masturbation habits of old men. Brad Miller spent your tax dollars to study something called the Bisexual Transgendered and Two-Spirited Aleutian Eskimos, whoever they are. Brad Miller even spent your tax dollars to pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia."
Now, some House Republicans are pushing the idea of stirring up anti-science sentiment among the general public even further, and are trying to crowdsource a "citizen review" of the National Science Foundation:
"We are launching an experiment - the first YouCut Citizen Review of a government agency. Together, we will identify wasteful spending that should be cut and begin to hold agencies accountable for how they are spending your money.

Among the keywords that Republican lawmakers "suggest" the public zero in on:
"success, culture, media, games, social norm, lawyers, museum, leisure, stimulus"
All of this would be somewhat humorous if the stakes weren't so high. Federal government funding of R&D as a fraction of GDP has declined by 60 percent in 40 years (a statistic that was -- ironically -- compiled by the very agency House Republicans are trying to cut). Meanwhile, U.S. leadership in science and technology is being challenged by China, Japan, and a number of European countries. And an excellent Harvard Crimson editorial today outlined what that may mean down the road:
"Republicans ... must consider the reality that science funding has been the backbone of America’s technical development and prowess. Any attempts to cut or draw down this funding are short sighted, and more importantly, undermine the engine that has catapulted the U.S. into its dominant position today."
The last word on this issue goes to Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin:
"I would rather trust the judgment of 10 doctors sitting around a table than I would 10 politicians sitting around a table when we decide how to allocate taxpayer money for those grants."