Friday, 13 February 2009

Marginal notes

The first in a new weekly feature here, highlighting several key news stories and various ruminations scattered around the web relating to early modern studies, open access, American politics, digital humanities, and other topics of interest to potential readers of this blog (those, I'm assuming, who share at least some of my interests).

The aim of these link-heavy posts is to summarise my web-based reading for the week, and also serves the useful function of forcing me to update the blog less sporadically than usual. I will, of course, write specifically about my own research interests in addition to what is gathered in these regular updates. So here goes...

Milton in the library
In relation to the image at the top of this blog entry (it's a quote from Areopagitica found in the Reading Room of the New York Public Library, sourced via the Milton-L mailing list), here's another one a little too large to post directly here - this one's to be found in the library at McGill University, and the quote is taken from The Reason of Church Government.

Rebuilding higher education in Iraq
News from my own university's website, with a Milton tie-in (the order of these snippets is deliberate). A high-profile group of scholars and politicans recently met with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, to discuss scholarships worth $1 billion earmarked to help Iraqi students travel overseas to pursue higher education in English-speaking countries. The group includes prominent Miltonist Professor Gorden Campbell of the University of Leicester, who is also the founding chair of the British Universities Iraq Consortium (he's the one with the impressive facial hair on the far left).

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access
Here's website which draws together an alliance of organizations supporting "open public access to taxpayer-funded research". Though it focuses primarily on research within the sciences and medicine, The Alliance for Taxpayer Access website highlights several key Acts which any active supporter of Open Access should do their utmost to oppose, including one I mentioned last week...

Protect the NIH Public Access Mandate From the Conyers Copyright Caricature
Stevan Harnad pipes in about the bill I mentioned last week which seeks to undo the NIH Public Access Act, effectively screening publicly-funded research from those who have invested tax dollars into these projects. I would echo Harnad's call here: head on over to the "Require open access for publicly-funded research" petition and let Obama know that the scholarly community supports public access to taxpayer-funded research.

Judge a president in three weeks? Breathe....
Speaking of Obama, here's a well-written piece arguing that it is folly to judge the new Commander-in-Chief based on the ups and downs of his first weeks in office - his Presidency will be based on "solid stuff and also the less tangible", ranging from the success of his recently-approved Stimulus Plan (albeit in a compromised form which tragically cuts back on funds designed to aid higher education) to the nature of his character in a crisis.

Reinventing the Academic Journal: First, Take Down Your Website
A recent entry in Jo Guldi's blog inscape highlights the need for publishers of academic journals to take take steps to adapt to the changing environment of knowledge dissemination in the digital age, a notion related to themes examined extensively in my own ongoing research. In discussing the ways in which journals might integrate more organically with some Web 2.0 applications already discussed in this blog, she comments: "...a scholar using zotero, jstor, google scholar, and delicious can instantaneously find other scholars' opinions of a particular article, the names of the disciplines and sub-disciplines they think it applies to best, and other articles of similar note to that particular scholar." The possibilities of this Web 2.0 interoperability have intrigued me a great deal in recent days, and is a notion I will blog about once I'm able to articulate my thoughts on this matter.

Academic Publications 2.0
Luis Von Ahn at Carnegie Mellon University writes on a similar topic to the one discussed above, asking if "a combination of a wiki, karma, and a voting method like reddit or digg [can] substitute the current system of academic publication?"

The Rise of Twitter, Academic Unconferences, and announcing THATCamp 2009
Dave Lester, in his Finding America blog, narrates an account of a fascinating to-and-fro which took place among various digital humanists on Twitter this week, the micro-blogging social network site (and yes, I'm on there myself, followed by all of two people). For those who aren't keen to scroll through his wall of text, here's the point I find so fascinating:
As it turned out, all my internet friends were busy working on a new project, called A Better CFP. The sequence of events leading up to this moment was simple. Matt Gold (@mkgold) of the CUNY Graduate Center tweeted the question: “How is it that the Penn CFP list still isn’t working? Does any other centralized CFP site exist?” Hours later, Dave Parry (@academicdave) of UT Dallas replied: “@mkgold re:CFP. Not that I know of, but we could just build one. Want to?” And shortly after, a wiki was setup to collaborate on this new project. To date, eighteen different people around the country (and world, for that matter) have contributed to the wiki by sharing ideas about the site, its design, and possible software implementations while considering a feature-set for both its initial launch, and our pie-in-the-sky ambitions.

In the not-to-distance future I will write at some length about the possibilities of utilising Web 2.0 applications to enhance accessibility into research projects. I'm still in the early stages of figuring out what these possibilities mean to me, but stay tuned and hopefully you'll see some outcomes soon enough.

And finally, The Onion reports...

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