Thursday, July 08, 2010
WordPress and Drupal. The new D&R is powered by the former, which I find to be more feature-rich compared to Google's proprietary Blogger platform.
The other impetus for the move was a change that happened to D&R's companion site, the Differences & Repetitions Wiki. At some point the folks over at Wikidot, which hosts D&RW, began placing ads on my pages. I understand their reasons for doing so. How else are they supposed to pay the bills? Nevertheless, I saw the involuntary placement of advertising on the site as incommensurate my own values, not to mention what I write about academically. Instead of paying Wikidot for a premium site unsupported by ads, I decided it would be preferable to begin an all new wiki as a sub-directory within a brand new D&R. I'm hoping to launch the new D&RW within a couple of weeks, once the blog is even more fully up and running.
In case you're wondering, I'm not starting the Differences & Repetitions blog over from scratch. I've imported all of this site's posts and comments to the new D&R, so, content-wise, you'll find there pretty much what you see here. I'm planning to shut off the comments feature here in about a week, which effectively will mark this iteration of D&R's transition to a legacy site. This will be my last post hosted on Blogger.
Thanks for five wonderful years of reading, sharing, commenting on, and tweeting about my posts here on (the old) D&R. I hope that you'll follow me over to the new D&R, where we can continue the conversation.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Among his proposals, he calls for corporate sponsorship of classes. Personally I'm looking forward to the day when the syllabus for my Introduction to Media class, which enrolls 250-plus students every fall, can finally say, "brought to you by the Walt Disney Company." Kembrew also suggests that undergraduates be given the green light to utilize paid-for research assistance companies, which makes a good deal of sense, really, for how else are we to grow the economy in tough financial times? My favorite idea of his, though, is to incentivize cheap graduate student teaching. Soon-to-be PhDs, Kembrew writes, ought to be able to outsource their doctoral dissertations:
By no longer having to conduct original research themselves, graduate students will have more hours to spend in the classroom as adjunct instructors. Let's do the math. PhD-Dissertations.com charges $17.00 per page, which adds up to $3,400 for a 200-page dissertation (plus, their website states that, "A discount of 10% applies to orders of 75+ pages!"). Although this might seem like a lot of money, consider the fact that most colleges pay adjuncts roughly the same, between $3,000 and $4,000, for each course taught per semester. Therefore, by just adding one extra course to his or her roster, a graduate student can pay for an entire dissertation in less than one academic year--while at the same time serving the university's undergraduate teaching needs. Once this new generation of scholar/project managers enters the profession, there will be no more need for traditional professors.Since I'm an overpaid university professor who's contributing to all the bloat, I'll happily step aside to let someone with a bachelors or masters degree do my job for, say, seven or eight bucks an hour. But don't worry about me. I'll be lapping it up over at PhD-Dissertations.com, where at long last I can put my skills and experience to some real use.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last week, the International Communication Association (ICA), in Conjunction with American University's Center for Social Media, released its Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies devised a similar statement of best practices way back in 1993 (it updated the document in 2009), so needless to say I'm pleased to see ICA catching up at long last.
These types of policy statements are vitally important for media and communication scholars, and indeed for scholars more generally. As more and more of our work engages words, sounds, images, and other artifacts drawn from the popular media, we need to be reasonably assured that we can criticize and, where necessary, reproduce content protected by copyright, trademark, and other forms of intellectual property law. That's exactly what these best practices statements do, in part by identifying a "community of practice" and carefully defining its -- in this case, scholarly -- customs. But it's not only about "show and tell." Reproducing copyrighted content in academic work is important to the scholarly process. How else would reviewers, other scholars, and anyone else who may happen to read our work assess the validity of our claims?
Academics routinely -- and often unnecessarily, I might add -- self-censor our work, for instance by opting to exclude images we're analyzing for fear we'll get sued by some deep-pocketed media giant. Heck, I've even done it myself. And that's why I'm such a champion of these best practices statements. They may not give us carte blanche to use intellectual properties in our work however we may see fit. They do give us a useful set of guidelines for making informed judgments about how best to proceed in these matters, though, plus they underscore how our own practices are in solidarity with others.
The other bit of good news is that Boston College's Charles (Chuck) E. Morris III has drafted a resolution calling on the National Communication Association (NCA) to revise its fees for licensing NCA-copyrighted material. In a preamble to the document, Chuck writes:
The resolution seeks to regulate the prohibitively expense copyright fees charged by Taylor & Francis [publisher of NCA journals] in conjunction with NCA. Particularly alarming is that while for more than a decade NCA Executive Directors, who contractually have the prerogative to waive or reduce fees, intervened to make reprinted NCA journal materials affordable for high quality anthologies/readers of pedagogical and scholarly value, the current NCA Executive Director, Nancy Kidd, has prioritized profit and is allowing a dramatically higher fee.Basically, NCA jacked up its licensing fees about a year ago, a move that will price smaller publishers out of the business of republishing top-quality communication research. The change not only promises to whittle down the competition (leaving only giants like Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell, and Sage standing), but it's also inimical to the larger cause of scholarly communication. When Chuck writes that NCA is putting profits ahead of publishing, he's exactly right.
If you're an NCA member, you have until Tuesday, June 29th the add your name to the document. You can do so by contacting Chuck via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And hey -- if you're not an NCA member but you believe in the spirit of the resolution, why not go ahead drop Chuck a line anyway? I don't know if he can add your name to the formal list of signatories, but it can't hurt for him to be able to attest to support coming from beyond NCA.
Now, if only we could get NCA to adopt a best practices for fair use statement of its own. It's an embarrassment, frankly, for the oldest and largest professional association for communication scholars in the United States to lag so far behind its peer organizations.
Monday, June 14, 2010
But for those of you who, like me, are suffering from the opposite condition -- World Cup hypothermia -- I'm happy to share this most excellent clip from The Simpsons. Enjoy.
Monday, May 31, 2010
SOCIAL MEDIA HOUR #59: PRIVACY, TRANSPARENCY, & ONE MORE LESBIAN
This week the show will explore the topic of privacy and transparency specifically looking at how social networks and social technologies/platforms are changing the standards of privacy … or are they? With the amount of transparency in today’s world, are people reevaluating what they share? Is that a good thing? Ted Striphas from Indiana University joins the program to discuss. Also on this week’s show, Shirin Papillon, the Founder & CEO of OneMoreLesbian – a media site that aggregates the world’s lesbian film, television and online video content in one place. What does this have to do with the other topic? Simple. An array of sites and networks have arisen catering to myriad special interest groups. You can find site and networks for just about anything … that’s not new. But think about it, you choose to visit a site and participate in a social network … that behavior is tracked – whether by Google or brands that may appear there. If you choose to post links or comment on posts, others see your participation – so suddenly your personal affinity for a particular group is now public, which means in the case of LGBT oriented content, you are now more out than you were before. We’ll talk about OML as a business and about its growth and what it means when it comes to helping further expose a wider audience to the gay community.Should be a blast! Please listen if you can.
UPDATE -- Here's an embed from which you can stream the entire episode:
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
My latest essay, "Acknowledged Goods: Cultural Studies and the Politics of Academic Journal Publishing," is now out in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 7(1) (March 2010), pp. 3-25. In my opinion, it's probably the single most important journal essay I've published to date. Here's the abstract:
I'm fortunate to have already had the published essay reviewed by Ben Myers and Desiree Rowe, who podcast over at The Critical Lede. You can listen to their thoughtful commentary on "Acknowledged Goods" by clicking here -- and be sure to check out their other podcasts while you're at it!This essay explores the changing context of academic journal publishing and cultural studies' envelopment within it. It does so by exploring five major trends affecting scholarly communication today: alienation, proliferation, consolidation, pricing, and digitization. More specifically, it investigates how recent changes in the political economy of academic journal publishing have impinged on cultural studies' capacity to transmit the knowledge it produces, thereby dampening the field's political potential. It also reflects on how cultural studies' alienation from the conditions of its production has resulted in the field's growing involvement with interests that are at odds with its political proclivities.Keywords: Cultural Studies; Journal Publishing; Copyright; Open Access; Scholarly Communication
Since I'm on the topic of the politics of academic knowledge, I'd be remiss not to mention Siva Vaidhyanathan's amazing piece from the 2009 NEA Almanac of Higher Education, which recently came to my attention courtesy of Michael Zimmer. It's called "The Googlization of Universities." I found Siva's s discussion of bibliometrics -- the measurement of bibliographic citations and journal impact -- to be particularly intriguing. I wasn't aware that Google's PageRank system essentially took its cue from that particular corner of the mathematical universe. The piece also got me thinking more about the idea of "algorithmic culture," which I've blogged about here from time to time and that I hope to expand upon in an essay.
Please shoot me an email if you'd like a copy of "Acknowledged Goods." Of course, I'd be welcome any feedback you may have about the piece, either here or elsewhere.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Well, I didn't forget about it. I figured if I couldn't make an audiobook myself, then I'd do the next best thing: let the computer do it for me, using a text-to-speech (T-T-S) synthesizer. The more I thought about the project, the more convinced I became that it was a good idea. It wouldn't just be cool to be able to listen to Late Age on an iPod; an audio edition would finally make the book accessible to vision impaired people, too.
And so I got down to work. I extracted all of the text from the free, Creative Commons-licensed PDF of Late Age and proceeded to text-to-speech-ify it, one chapter at a time. I played back my first recording -- the Introduction -- but it was disaster! The raw text had all sorts of remnants from the original book layout (footnotes, page headers/numbers, words hyphenated due to line breaks, and whole lot more). They seriously messed up the recording, and so I knew they needed to go. I began combing through the text, only to discover that the cleanup would take me, working alone, many more hours than I could spare, especially with a newborn baby in my life. Frustrated, I nearly abandoned the project for a second time.
Then it dawned on me: if I'm planning on giving away the audiobook for free, then why not get people who might be interested in hearing Late Age in on it, too? Thus was born the Late Age of Print wiki, the host site for The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project. The plan is for all of us, using the wiki, to create a Creative Commons-licensed text-to-speech version of the book, which will be available for free online.
There's a good deal of work for us to do, but don't be daunted! If you choose to donate a large chunk of your time to help out the cause, then that's just super. But don't forget that projects like this one also succeed when a large number of people invest tiny amounts of their time as well. Your five or ten minutes of editing, combined with the work of scores of other collaborators, will yield a top-notch product in the end. I've posted some guidelines on the wiki site to help get you started.
I doubt that I have a large enough network of my own to pull off this project, so if your blog, Tweet, contribute to listservs, or otherwise maintain a presence online, please, please, please spread the word!
Thank you in advance for your contributions, whatever they may be. In the meantime, if you have any questions about The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project, don't hesitate to email me. I'd love to hear from you!