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Too many things to write about! Here’s a list of things I’ve read today or recently that have been kicking around in my mind.

1.

From the ifBook blog, an exciting new project that:

“represents a bold step by a scholarly press — one of the most distinguished and most innovative in the world — toward developing new procedures for vetting material and assuring excellence, and more specifically, toward meaningful collaboration with existing online scholarly communities to develop and promote new scholarship.”

The Institute for the Future of the Book created CommentPress, a paragraph by paragraph means of commenting on blog entries. It sort of reminds me of the track changes feature in MS Word, but of course the implications are far greater. It seems that Noah Wardrip-Fruin will be posting his book, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies, piece by piece on the Grand Text Auto blog and we will be able to comment as it comes. The big deal is that the MIT Press are the ones who “gave it the green light”. Read more at ifBook, this is an important development in scholarly publishing.

2.

I’m really excited about this video-in-the-making called “A Renaissance Computer” that states that the current migration to digital publication is historically paralleled only by the invention of the printing press. The creator of the video called it his “toe-in-the-water” of the media ecology field, and its one hell of a big toe in a relatively small puddle if you ask me. I’m excited to see where the video will go when it is done. Unfortunately it is not on YouTube so I wasn’t sure how to embed it, so to watch it you’ll have to follow the link. It is worth your time, the research is pretty amazing.

3.

I posted the other day and referenced “Better Together: Restoring the American Community”, Robert Putnam and Lewis Feldstein, and I wanted to revisit that book and complain about a piece of terminology. The entire book is about building “social capital”, a term that I suddenly realized is kind of gross: it commodifies community building and its participants, rather than promoting healthy activity within an ecology. Why has everything got to be about “capital”? Aren’t they really talking about building some kind of network, building trust and strengthening mutually beneficial relationships?

4.

Finally, I’m totally bummed out that there are people commenting fervently on the Annoyed Librarian blog about the “death of the book” and the “death of the public library”. I’ve been working in public libraries for about 8 years now, but only recently raced through an MLS degree, and one of the things that really got me down in school was this same kind of discussion. I don’t even believe that people in our field don’t recognize just how important this institution is in our country, and just how important it is to work really, really hard to keep our doors open and keep our services relevant to the needs of our communities. WTF people??? Can we stop with the doomsday stuff and get on with it???

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2 Comments

  1. wired magazine just placed ‘public libraries’ in a list of ‘things that don’t suck’ – and they know what’s up, so, there.

  2. About “social capital”: you might allay some of your irritation by thinking about the original intent of corporations and capital – not as products in which the need is as much as an invention as the product, but where the entrepreneur develops a service or product that satisfies a need. In fact, in the documentary “The Corporation”, the point is also made that once this need is satisfied, the corporation would dissolve as a natural process.

    It has only been through 20th Century business ingenuity that the business of producing goods and making profit was “lifted” from being the mere byproduct of social fulfillment to the stature of the Ultimate Goal.


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