De ooggetuige [The eye witness],Simone van der Vlugt

Just finished reading De ooggetuige [The eye witness], the gift given to customers by booksellers in the Netherlands as part of “Thriller Month.”

These gifts are a lovely part of the Dutch literary scene: the most famous is the Boekenweek geschenk, an annual gift during “book week”; they are usually short works (ca. 90 pp. in a small format paperback) by authors of note.  I’d never heard of Maand van het Spannende Boek (Month of the Thrilling Book) before, but I do like the idea of there being more times for getting free books in the year. Read the rest of this entry »


Visualising grades: An interesting idea from the Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail ran what looked like a genre piece this morning about badly-written and hard-to-understand report cards–an annual rite it seems to me. But it ended with a side bar that I found quite thought-provoking: what a better-designed report card might look like:

The Globe and Mail’s proposal for a more visual report card.

Read the rest of this entry »


Siva Vaidhyanathan on the value of public research

A great statement today in Slate by Siva Vaidhyanathan about the value of public research:

We Americans take these institutions for granted. We assume that private enterprise generates what is so casually called “innovation” all by itself. It does not. The Web browser you are using to read this essay was invented at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The code that makes this page possible was invented at a publicly funded academic research center in Switzerland. That search engine you use many times a day, Google, was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation to support Stanford University. You didn’t get polio in your youth because of research done in the early 1950s at Case Western Reserve. California wine is better because of the University of California at Davis. Hollywood movies are better because of UCLA. And your milk was not spoiled this morning because of work done at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

 These things did not just happen because someone saw a market opportunity and investors and inventors rushed off to meet it. That’s what happens in business-school textbooks. In the real world, we roll along, healthy and strong, in the richest nation in the world because some very wise people decided decades ago to invest in institutions that serve no obvious short-term purpose. The results of the work we do can take decades to matter—if at all. Most of what we do fails. Some succeeds. The system is terribly inefficient. And it’s supposed to be that way.

Along the way, we share some time and energy with brilliant and ambitious young people from around the world.

Important to realise this is also a selective list. Other things generated in whole or in part by publicly funded researchers and institutions include Unicode and XML.

Can anybody think of others?


This time it’s different: “ever since Plato” department (short)

From Public no more: A new path to excellent for America’s public universities, in which two business school deans explain how following the b-school model will improve higher education:

The belief that higher education should be funded by society dates back at least to the fourth century BCE, when Plato’s academy offered free admission to selected students–a philosophy that prevailed throughout most of history. Today we face a different and challenging environment… (3).

Talk about the need for transformative change!

Read the rest of this entry »


“There’s no Next about it”: Stanley Fish, William Pannapacker, and the Digital Humanities as paradiscipline

In a posting to his blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education, William Pannapacker identified the Digital Humanities as an emerging trend at the 2009 Modern Language Association Convention.

Amid all the doom and gloom of the 2009 MLA Convention, one field seems to be alive and well: the digital humanities. More than that: Among all the contending subfields, the digital humanities seem like the first “next big thing” in a long time, because the implications of digital technology affect every field.

I think we are now realizing that resistance is futile. One convention attendee complained that this MLA seems more like a conference on technology than one on literature. I saw the complaint on Twitter.

The following year, he was able to say the discipline had arrived.

The digital humanities are not some flashy new theory that might go out of fashion. At this point, the digital humanities are The Thing.  There’s no Next about it. And it won’t be long until the digital humanities are, quite simply, “the humanities.”

As Pannapacker noted here and in yet another posting on the topic, these observations were met with some unease in the discipline. Some resented the perceived implication that the digital humanities were new; others were concerned about his observation that the field was beginning to take on the trappings of previous trendy topics, most notoriously the cliquishness and focus on exclusivity thought to be characteristic of “Big Theory.” Read the rest of this entry »


“It’s fantastic that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph”: Greatest comment spam

One of my fun tasks every day is emptying the comment spam. There’s always something worth reading. Until now, I’ve been trashing them. But I think I’ll start preserving the better ones here. This is a post that should be updated a lot! Read the rest of this entry »


How to fix the refresh time on the WordPress RSS widget

I use the RSS widget to follow other site I run and my Zotero bibliographic database. A major problem, however, is that it is extremely slow to update: it appears that the default update is once every 12 hours.

There is no option for speeding up this refresh rate in the widget GUI. There is a solution for this, though it is ugly and apparently not cross-theme: Read the rest of this entry »


Fixing a problem with broken stylesheets in OJS 2.3.6

In recent days, we have encountered a problem at Digital Studies/Le champ numérique that has resulted in problems with the display of a number of our articles.

The symptom is that the article breadcrumb and menu bar appear below rather than beside the right navigation bar, as illustrated below.

Screen shot showing layout problem in OJS

Screen shot showing layout problem. Article on left shows the broken style; article on the right has had the problem corrected.

After some investigation, we narrowed the problem down to an issue with how OJS handles HTML-encoded articles. Read the rest of this entry »


Chasing the (long) tail: Was the Readabilty subscription model really a failed experiment?

More on the changing business models (see my earlier entries, “Won’t get fooled again: Why is there no iTunes for scholarly publishing” and “Does Project Muse help of harm the scholarly community…“).

Readability is an app developer whose main product is software for improving the long-form online reading experience. I’ve not used it (yet), but it seems to involve a combination of applying an optimised style to existing content and suppressing the surrounding ads and navigation clutter (contrary to the comment feed on their blog, Readability doesn’t seem to extract and resell content without producer’s permission: it seems to be more like a specialised kind of browser plugin for viewing content you already have access to).

The original business model appears to have involved collecting subscription money ($5/month) from users who wanted a better reading experience and then distributing that money (minus a commission, I imagine) to the publishers who registered with them. There are aspects of this that you might quibble with–for example, had they thought they could communicate with the owners of every site their user base tried to read using their app? But on the whole it seems like an interesting and innovative idea: extracting some part of the capital required to produce content by selling a better experience in its consumption. And since I’d have thought they probably didn’t need to offer to share the money with the publishers (given that they were only reformatting the content), this is a business model that actually seems to have been constructive rather than purely exploitative.

And apparently one that doesn’t work. Read the rest of this entry »


test 2

test


Test book

thi is a test of the book feed


Testing if a list is empty in textpattern

Let’s say you have a section on a webpage like the “current courses” section in the right menu bar my teaching webspace.

This draws its list from articles in the section “teaching” that have “current_interest” as a category.

The problem comes between semesters while I am preparing my syllabi. If no course has a category “current_interest” you end up with a header and no content.

What you need is something that checks whether there is content to display and then presents different material based on the outcome of that check. You might delete the section entirely, or, as I have done, display a placeholder message. Read the rest of this entry »


Installing Zotero in Ubuntu

See the excellent post here.

http://anterotesis.com/wordpress/2011/11/installing-zotero-standalone-on-ubuntu-11-10/

To install the .desktop, I used the application launcher under system>preferences>main menu.


How to draw a circle in GIMP. Seriously.

I use GIMP, the free graphics software package, all the time. But boy it can be awkward at times. Here’s how to draw a circle or elipse (like the one in the photo below):

Ellipse select tool > Start selecting > Hold down shift > Click on the circle to select it > Edit (Menu) > Stroke Selection – Voila!
Alternative method: Select a circle again > Fill it > Select (menu) > Shrink few pixels > Delete

CP photo of Bill C38 protest, modified to highlight protest sign.

Seriously?


“And in conclusion, funding for further research will be required”

Globe and Mail reporter Anna Mehler Paperny reported today on research that is pointing to a new treatment for people infected with the Ebola virus. After explaining how the treatment works and its implications, she concludes:

On a pragmatic level, getting this research published in a well-regarded journal could make it easier for Dr. Kobinger to ask for continued government funding in a cash-strapped environment.

What a pleasingly blunt statement about the economics of publication!


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