Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Just like that the semester is at a close. With hardly any idea how it happened, we have all found ourselves drowning in assignments, essays, finals, and group projects that seem to have been dropped on us unannounced, and certainly unempathetically. As a way to remind you that there still is goodness in the world, Swat Visually compiled your recommendations for a feel good playlist. The songs you all submitted are great and promise to lift your spirits while you’re jamming out. Shout out to whoever included Aaron’s Party on there, by the way. Brilliant. I’ve also made the playlist collaborative, so if you feel compelled to add some more songs, go for it!
Also, someone brilliantly added the website, listen.hatnote.com, which plays out the sounds of Wikipedia in real time. I definitely recommend giving it a listen, since it’s pretty cool, and will provide a soothing complement to the funky goodness emanating from the Feel Good playlist.
Before I sign off for the semester, I would like to share some of my reflections from working on this column over the past few months.
1. Swarthmore students have diverse opinions. As much as some of us like to pretend we are a more or less homogenous community, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every time I thought we would all agree on something, we didn’t. If there was this much variety in my sample sizes alone – which range from 3 – 8% of the student body – just imagine the community at large. As a result, I’ve tried to remind myself that when I think of a “Swattie” or the “Swarthmore community” I am referring to a limited microcosm of students that largely share my interests, hobbies, and perspectives.
2. Majors and discipline have no bearing on anything we have measured thus far.
3. Some people actually like potato bar, which I really just can’t wrap my head around.
4. Numbers are powerful. While I initially presented this column as a “collection of snapshots” as opposed to a “rigorous study” (see original post here), I have seen data from this column affect people. Numbers can be misleading, evocative, unrepresentative, and even dangerous. As I have come to realize this, I have started asking myself, should I make my sample size more visible? Should I refuse to publish without a statistically sound sample size? Am I approaching this column and its data thoughtfully? I have learned that there are real consequences for negligence when data is involved, and I intend to be more thoughtful about that in the future.
Before you finish reading this article – and lose your excellent excuse for procrastination – I would like to ask you all for feedback. My goal for Swat Visually is to give the Swarthmore community accurate, interesting, and relevant information through a meaningful format. If you don’t think I have done that, have ideas for how I could do so in the future, or have any suggestions for topics you are curious about, please reach out to me.
That’s all for this semester, folks. Look for us again the first week of school for more questions, answers, and hopefully a few flame wars if we’re lucky.