in defense of the digital humanities, open courseware, and online publishing

This is one of the best cases I’ve seen for the Digital Humanities, open courseware, and online publishing. It demonstrates the need for universities, and especially tenure-granting committees to consider digital media as equally worthy of consideration during tenure reviews as scholarly articles printed on paper in peer-review journals and monographs published by traditional academic publishers. This transition should be hastened by the present scampering of traditional print publishers to establish digital publishing presences online (as I’ve mentioned here). It is also a clever demonstration of the legitimacy that advances in online education, improvements in Wikipedia contributor rules, blogging, Google scholar projects, harnessing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, course management systems like Moodle, and new forms of 3D and hypermedia publishing have brought not only to the Digital Humanities, but to scholarship in general. Give it a view and leave comments below.

HT: Amanda Waldo

want to do a phd in the humanities? watch this first.

Ph.D. in Humanitiesif you ever wanted to do a phd in the humanities, watch this first.

i have never viewed anything as true as this. now if you’ll pardon me, i’m off to lament my wasted life… ;-)

a-rod finally helps texas reach the world series

i love this story from the onion. as a red sox fan, i couldn’t help it. :D

ARLINGTON, TX—Ten years after signing a record $252 million contract to play baseball in Texas, third baseman Alex Rodriguez finally delivered for the Rangers by leading the franchise to its first-ever World Series. “A-Rod came up big for us this entire series, all the way up until the last out,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters during a postgame press conference, saying that the Rangers would have had no chance of beating the New York Yankees without Rodriguez’s remarkable performance at the plate. “It was a long time coming, but you have to give the guy credit. He was the Rangers’ MVP, no question.” Washington added that seeing Rodriguez take Texas to the World Series was one thing, but A-Rod almost single-handedly beating the Yankees was “extra sweet.”

i love it!

my new favorite political nutjob: jimmy mcmillan

i have discovered my new favorite political nutjob. his name is jimmy mcmillan and he is the candidate for new york governor from the (i kid you not) ‘rent is too damn high‘ party.

mesopotamians by they might be giants

Most parents are fearful of what their children might find on the internet. So when my daughter, Talitha, came and told me that she had a question about a strange video she had found on the internet that had some strange names she had never heard before, I was preparing to tell my daughter how there are some things on the internet that are simply not good. But imagine my surprise when she began asking about people named Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh! I thought perhaps she has stumbled upon a joint lecture by UCLA Assyriologists Drs. Elizabeth Carter and Robert Englund on iTunes U. But no, she had, in fact, found the new song, “The Mesopotamians,” by They Might Be Giants.

They Might Be Giants writes some of the best educational, clever, and outright hilarious songs ever written. If you haven’t heard their latest, give it a try.

On Using Digital Course Material to Publish Textbooks

Chronicle of Higher EducationThere’s an article in the October 8, 2010 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Ed by Jeffrey R. Young entitled, “As Textbooks Go Digital, Will Professors Build Their Own Books?,” that discusses using digital courses to build textbooks.

Young states:

McGraw-Hill Higher Education plans to announce its revamped custom-publishing system, called Create, with an emphasis on electronic versions of mix-and-match books. Macmillan Publishers this year announced a similar custom-textbook platform, called DynamicBooks. And upstart Flat World Knowledge touts the customization features of its textbooks, which it gives away online, charging only for printed copies and study guides. Other publishers have long offered custom-textbook services in print as well, though they have always represented just a sliver of sales.

It is only a matter of time before someone develops a system that takes course content rich with media that many instructors have developed via PowerPoint, Google Earth, videos, sounds, and turns it into a book. The problem is, of course, that in doing so, we are actually going backward with regard to technological development. It’s the equivalent of the instructor who asks a tech in the media lab to make a 35-mm slide from a digital image, or a vinyl record from a CD. Publishing digital content in a printed, “analog” book is backward. The only problem is that many tenure-granting universities still only acknowledge print-published volumes as “legitimate,” and thumb their noses at “digital” or “online” publications.

I discussed the problem in my book:

Thus, a problem of scribal technology persists. While technology for gathering and processing information has advanced almost exponentially, the accepted means of communicating this new information is stuck in a scribal format that is literally thousands of years old: the written word. Scholars have yet to adopt alternative means by which to receive and redistribute information developed and communicated in three-dimensional format. Far too many scholars are insisting that technologically minded scholars communicate digital information by analog means. Digital journals and online publications are a step in the right direction, but even these new digital publications are made to look like the traditional written pages of journals in many instances, rather than harness and utilize the interactive connectivity and visual capabilities available on the Internet.

While the three-dimensional modeling of archaeological reconstructions is an improvement upon its hand-drawn predecessor, the full power of three-dimensional modeling cannot be realized because three-dimensional models are rendered into static illustrations of what was an otherwise dynamic environment. While three-dimensional modeling is a vast improvement over two-dimensional representations, the lack of a means by which to fully experience the three-dimensional model leaves the interactive power of the three-dimensional model untapped. In order to fully harness the power of the three-dimensional model, a virtual reality environment must be adopted. Only when an effective means of communicating three-dimensional data is accepted by the academy will the potential of this new technology be fully realized.

Cargill, Robert, Qumran through (Real) Time, (Gorgias, 2009), 69-70

This research also realizes the overt incompatibility of publishing a book involving digital reconstructions in three-dimensional space in the traditional paper and ink format. It is, of course, highly ironic that this three-dimensional research is looked down upon by many, who prefer the time-honored, traditional medium of the printed book, which cannot fully convey the technological approach described within its pages. It is as incomplete as literally trying to describe a picture with a thousand words! Thus, the present research calls on scholars, publishers, dissertation committees, and departments of archaeology, architecture, and other related programs to make themselves more accommodating to newer digital forms of publication. As the word processor has replaced the typewriter, so too will digital and three-dimensional formats soon replace analog and two-dimensional formats for publishing archaeological materials. These new digital formats should not be seen as “alternative” or lesser means of publication, but as “progressive” media that are on the cutting edge of modern archaeological research.

Cargill, Robert, Qumran through (Real) Time, (Gorgias, 2009), 217-18.

(Yes, I recognize the irony of complaining about having to publish digital media in a print-published volume from the pages of a print-published volume. ;-)

The reason faculty still publish their classroom content as print-published books (and the reason publishers still offer published books) is because the money and academic prestige still lies in the print-published textbook, not in digital, online course.

Until a solution is discovered that makes money for “publishing” the digital material online, and offers the same tenure-improving prospects of a textbook, printed books will be favored in university settings. Until then, instructors will continue to take rich instructional and research media and print it on paper for placement on bookshelves.

Print on demand is a step in the right direction, but it will only be when university administrators, deans, and department chairs (that is, tenure-granting authorities) accept digital research as equally prestigious as the traditional print-published volume, and when nominal profit is available to the instructor providing the content that we will truly see an explosion in digital course materials available online. Until then, enjoy publishing your work with that prestigious publisher charging $150 per volume for your work, that only those who visit libraries will read.

Gmail Introduces New Priority Inbox Beta

Google is introducing a beta version of “Priority Inbox” for Gmail (because “Priority Mail” is already taken). Like most things Google, it is a simple, but welcomed enhancement to Google’s free email solution.

Google already has an effective spam filter. “Priority Inbox” works by using a new, teachable algorithm that determines which of your remaining emails (after the spam filter) are most important based upon keywords in the emails you read and to which you have responded. You can also train Gmail to promote or demote certain emails based upon content or sender, like you can with music on Pandora. Essentially, Google has created an algorithm for email content similar to the one it uses for web pages, which promotes certain results over others, except that the results are private to the email recipient. Over time, the more important emails are partitioned into three groups in your inbox:

  • Important and unread
  • Starred (Items you’ve read and designated as important)
  • Everything else

The new tool is convenient because the less important emails are still visible in your inbox, but those emails you are truly waiting for in your cluttered inbox are elevated to the top.

You can activate the Priority Inbox from your existing Gmail account with a simple click. Try it today.

the double standard

The sign of a modern, intellectual society is not its tolerance for free expressions of speech, but the consistency by which it tolerates various forms of free speech. Likewise, the sign of a sound faith in a credible system of beliefs is the manner in which it responds to criticism. Those that respond violently to questions and criticisms about their religious beliefs betray the uncertainty of their own convictions. However, those who entertain rational discourse and admit the inherent problems within all systems of beliefs demonstrate a confidence that unsettles many who insist upon their certitude.

ht: jim west

(old) spice up the library

i love digital media. i love instructional technology. in fact, i should love both since i’m the instructional technology coordinator at ucla, and i get paid to love instructional technology and keep my eyes glued to three monitors at all times scanning the web for new ideas.

however, few know that my dream job has always been to write for a sketch comedy troupe, specifically, the colbert report or daily show, which uses comedy and satire to poke fun at politics and the media.

but for now, i work at a university, which explains why i love those who use creativity and parody for instructional purposes. take, for instance, this parody of the old spice commercials, which promotes the lee library at byu. very, very funny.

to the rest of you, let’s see what you can do with technology for your university

facebook summary of the facebook movie

Facebooki thought this was clever.

Aaron Sorkin posted a note: “The Social Network screenplay, first draft.”

David Fincher: I’m a little concerned about accuracy. Did Zuckerberg really address a joint session of Congress?

Aaron Sorkin: I don’t know that he didn’t.

Aaron Sorkin posted a note: “The Social Network screenplay, second draft.”

David Fincher: Come on dude. The old-money white-bread “Winklevoss” twins?

Aaron Sorkin: That’s the one part I didn’t make up.

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