Been there, done that: Art history as a model for the effect of technology on disciplinary development

Evidence of why it is useful to read outside your main areas of disciplinary interest…

I’ve been reading my way through Revisualizing visual culture (Ashgate 2010), on a number of titles I bought from the Ashgate stand at the the recent DH 2012 conference in Hamburg. Most of the chapter thus far have been relevant to work we are doing with the Visionary Cross project, especially now that we are starting to get usable 3D meshes (as time allows, I hope to post some other small posts about the various chapters in this and my other recent reading). Read the rest of this entry »


David Brooks: The eighties, nineties, and oughts called and they want their rhetoric back

The Romney campaign doesn’t seem to know how to respond. For centuries, business leaders have been inept when writers, intellectuals and politicians attacked capitalism, and, so far, the Romney campaign is continuing that streak.

David Brooks

Brooks has been paying attention the last three decades, right? Intellectuals and politicians winning a rhetorical war over the value of capitalism in the face of rhetorical ineptness on the part of business interests? Seriously? Since Reagan and Thatcher?

I think that film must be playing in the other theatre.


Rich and poor

Just to be clear, outsourcing is only one source of the huge disconnect between a tiny elite and ordinary American workers, a disconnect that has been growing for more than 30 years. And Bain, in turn, was only one player in the growth of outsourcing. So Mitt Romney didn’t personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have —Paul Krugman

When I was a student in high school and university I used to work summers as a factory hand at Rowntree Macintosh (the candy company who made Smarties, Aero, and Black Magic–later bought out by Nestle). It was a great job I got via my neighbour, an old Yorkshireman who’d been a bombardier in the Lancs during the war. It was a union job that paid exactly the price of a dozen beer an hour (in the old, highly regulated Ontario system). I used to watch the clock, counting the beers.

Th other night I realised that I have no idea what it is like to work in a factory now. And more importantly, I don’t think any of our politicians do. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


“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 »


“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!


… or bust! A cool protest sign that you can only really read in print

The woman in the bottom left of this photo has a pretty funny sign protesting Bill C-38, the Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill.

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

Full text of sign in lower left: "The only C38 I trust is the one I'm wearing"

Although all online versions I can find are cropped like this one, so that you can only really see the top of her sign, in print in today’s Globe and Mail, it is cropped differently and you can read the whole thing: “The only C38 I trust… is the one I’m wearing!”


Canada’s cell phone gap

The Globe and Mail begins what looks like it will be an interesting series this weekend:

Canada Competes is a six-month project examining the people, politics and economic issues that are helping or hurting the countries ability to compete in a post-recession world.

First up: Loans, mobile, and travel, all of which, in Canada, are controlled by small cartels of protected Canadian companies. Read the rest of this entry »


Weaponised viruses: Flame and Stuxnet

The Globe and Mail has an article today about  evidence that the makers of Flame, which it describes as “the most complex pieces of malware ever designed,” are issuing instructions for it to self destruct. The article follows on an astounding New York Times piece on June 1st, linking the Stuxnet virus directly to the United States and Bush and Obama administrations.

Read the rest of this entry »


Rejigging my online presence

The last time I did some serious work about my online presence was six years ago, or so. At the time I replaced my old static professional websites (pre-2004 and 2004-2006) with a new site built using a Textpattern CMS install. Read the rest of this entry »


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