A blog post worth reading is Mihai Patrascu's post on, essentially, coming in second, if only for the chance to play armchair psychologist and try to deconstruct Mihai based on his blog posts. Of particular interest to me was his reaction to being offered a job at UCSD as the second-choice candidate -- an offer which he turned down, and apparently would have taken if offered first.
This is interesting to me because this very issue came up in our last search (which I was leading), where we ended up making 6 offers (and got 3 acceptances). We (the hiring committee) recognized that we were making a rather significant request to have 6 simultaneous outstanding offers. We also recognized the dangers in trying to sequentialize these offers. First, there was the internal danger -- the complex discussions (we had such a great committee, we wouldn't have argued) we would have had to undertake to rank-order everyone we wanted to make an offer to. And second, there's the external danger that the candidate -- who will, of course, find out they were the "second choice" -- takes the ordering as a negative signal and becomes more inclined to take another offer. One can argue whether or not a candidate should take such an ordering as a signal, or whether such a reaction is a purely emotional response. (See Mihai's post, for example, and judge for yourself in that case.) But it was clear to us that, even if no such signal was intended, there was a high risk that would be the interpretation from the standpoint of the candidate.
Mihai's post provides a solid empirical data point that we were right to have this concern; it's something I will keep in mind (and if necessary point to) in future hiring discussions. I'm glad we were able to make 6 simultaneous offers, and give all of the candidates we made offers to the right signal.
Something not worth reading is Kevin Carey's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, where he seems to be saying that Harvard should be doing more for undergraduates and in particular admitting more undergraduate students. It's so bad, I can't bring myself to link to it. Without judging the point of criticism, I've pointed out that his rant is pretty much devoid of an actual argument; if you care (and really, I'd suggest reading Mihai's stuff first!), you can see that I'm somehow now embroiled in an argument with him here and here.