A quick collection of the latest links in the past two weeks worth reading:
1. DIGITAL GET DOWN.
- Andy Rutledge wrote a great piece today about the inadequacies of digital news media – and the ways in which sloppy data visualization is part of a larger problem for the news trade and its cultural function.
- Introducing Orphan Works, U Michigan’s effort to make digitally accessible ‘orphaned’ works, that is, works under copyright whose owners are nonetheless M.I.A. or untraceable.
- A bookish equivalent to Pandora? Presenting: Byliner.
- This post may look like it’s from a year ago, but it relates to the on-again-off-again relationship of AAAARG (AAAARG as in Piracy? AAAAARG as in how it makes some writers feel?) with the Internet: I noticed last week 4-A AAAARG.org went down, only for a 5-A AAAAARG to rise from the ashes. Just like last year apparently– since that is the only news that comes up when I google ‘what happened to aaaarg?’. Most who comment on it are ambivalent as to the ‘ethics’ of the service it provides, as a repository for PDF editions of mostly academic works, works of critical theory and philosophy, and sundry highbrow productions (Kathy Acker’s interview with the Spice Girls particularly). These are exactly the kind of works most publishers won’t touch, given the riskiness of making back what you’d spend cranking them out. They’re the bread-and-butter of university presses and otherwise publishers willing to accept that sometimes the production of knowledge is a costly and thankless task. And it’s unfair to the toiling academic who should get a cut, managing a schedule of teaching and researching on a tenure track like the worst nightmare of single parenthood you’ve ever had. On the other hand, I think the idea of the DIY University, learning without schools, is pretty compelling now that I’m free from the academy, and I am skeptical of the general publication and packaging of ‘academic’ texts to begin with: why should we materially and monetarily keep these distinct from the rest of the printed world? Why should the latest scholarship and philosophy run me $45-$60? Intelligent commentary on the history of information transmission, literature, and history, should not be for sale only to those with research stipends. There is something to be said/agonized over about the ways in which marketing publications in the English-speaking (I can think of at least one counter-example in French bookshops, that is) world really compartmentalize their readers. It’s not only that the ‘Dark Romance’ section of a bookstore uses distinctly creepy typefaces to say to me ‘this is a vampire novel’ as opposed to the ‘military’ section which uses a lot of sans-serif IMPACT fonts that are grainy and dirt-splattered, as opposed to ‘this is printed by Oxford University Press’, but these differences in design also map onto serious differences in price and, consequently, access. And all of these decisions of appearance, paper stock, binding, dust jacket, are decisions actively made. So if you’re going to exhaust my budget I’m going to download Jean Genette’s complete works in PDF instead.
- And counter to all of that, U Chicago has made the History of Cartography available in PDF format for free. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
- A Watermark archive!
2. CRIME LOG.
- Prominent American Historian and Antiquarian Bookseller Barry Landau, it transpires, is a thief. The Washington Post reports: what a shame this is that a public intellectual would get nailed like this, as the public intellectual is already such a scarce figure in the states…
- The Latest on John Charles Gilkey.
- Toronto is the latest city whose libraries are under threat. This really is getting to be a global crisis.
- Librarians ARE radical. Treat them as such!
- Journal Subscriptions are expensive, so some of them are getting scrapped by libraries facing tough times.
- I was lucky enough to follow enough folks on twitter to the extent that I felt I attended SHARP’s 2011 conference in Washington D.C. “The Book in Art and Science”. The Society did such a fantastic job at encouraging attendees to record their experience via twitter, that so many of the amazing presentations and ideas really were well distilled to the likes of someone an ocean away! This is such a right-headed approach toward integrating social apps into intellectual life, and it shows just what the success of that relationship holds for us: newer ways of speaking, connecting, remembering. Here is their archive of the event, and here is a statistical summary: who was tweeting, to whom, @ whom, and about what. I’m dying to join/go next year to Dublin now…