Academic Funding, a Atlas-Sized Matter?

This is a republishing of an article I wrote for the Strange Bedfellows project.  The original url is here.

“Money is the root of all evil,” said James Taggart. “Money can’t buy happiness.  Love will conquer any barrier and any social distance.  That may be a bromide, boys, but that’s how I feel.” [1]

I have been reading Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, and it has really made me think about academia in relation to the Internet.  Publications of academic scholarship have historically been reserved for libraries, private collections, and academia itself.  Little of it makes its way into mainstream life.  Conversely, the Internet is the great equalizer.  It makes anything and everything known to anyone, anywhere.  An important facet of the Internet is that it is free: free to access, free to publish in, free to use however you see fit.  This is almost a complete reversal of the situation in academia where knowledge was limited by cost, space, and physical deterioration.  As more and more scholarship becomes available online, there has been a push for institutions like libraries to subscribe to services like online journals, periodicals, and article databases.  But there has also been a rising trend for making academic scholarship open source.  This kind of social contract is based upon the value of knowledge and the knowledge that it ought to be accessible by all people who are interested.  However, as funding in higher education becomes more and more scarce, is there a moral code governing whether or not one can earn money from academic scholarship?

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Text Encoding

This is a republishing of an article I wrote for the Strange Bedfellows project.  The original url is here.

I was recently working with an academic project housed at the University of Toronto called Records of Early English Drama, or REED.  REED has been around for a long time, since 1975, and has previously disseminated its work through print volumes.  It has just begun the process of exploring and expanded its work into the digital realm.  I feel like this is a situation that many long-standing research projects are in right now.  Print has become second class in terms of favorability compared to the digital yet printed volumes are both what hold the project’s existing work and what the project is familiar with doing.  In this case, there is a simultaneous need to “re-publish” past volumes and publish new research in a digital format.

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How Quickly Nature Falls Into Revolt

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now, but I have not sat down long enough to get it done.  I recently published an article with Apollon eJournal which I had been working on since the winter of 2010.  In fact, my views and critical stance had changed so much that I significantly revised it past fall before publication.  I wanted to supplement the article with this post because some of the materials I sent where simply too awkward to be included in the article proper.  For one, I wanted to talk about what does not often get discussed with discussions of Docuscope and that is mainly the effect of the text itself upon the evaluative tool Docuscope is.  I discussed most of this in my post here but I wanted to add the underlying structure of Docuscope itself.

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I Tell You, ‘Tis Incredible to Believe

I went to the British Library for the first time today and I was simply blown away by the amount of materials I was able to access in one place at one time.  I went to the Rare Book and Music room and viewed about twenty editions of Shakespeare’s works, mostly pre-1850.  I cannot believe that this is a free public library and a veritable construct of reading space.  On their website it said something to the effect of the British Library building near St. Pancras in London being the biggest building built in the UK in the 20th century.  Absolutely incredible.

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The Search, Sir, Was Profitable

I realized yesterday night that I did not post on the first day of my pledge to post once a day.  However, I have been thinking that once a week might be a more appropriate goal due to my current amount of work.

I just finished work on a new search component on Shakesbook.  The search queries a database of early modern plays, authors, acting companies, acting venues, and printers.  (The direct link is here.)  I hope that it is flexible enough for a quick search yet have enough data to also support scholarship.  I designed it with this two-fold intent in mind.  Hopefully this database will pan out into more features in the future as well as grow in size as I continue reading.

Let me know what you think of it below or via email.

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Brief, I Pray You, For You See It Is a Busy Time With Me

It does seem like it has been a busy month for me since I can barely distinguish between the past weeks.  I am mainly taking this opportunity to post on Leap Day but I also have a few other things on my mind:

~I have spent much of February working on a new feature on my other website, Shakesbook, and a new part of the website will soon be available.  I worked with Harbage’s Annals of English Drama, Chamber’s The Elizabethan Stage, and Gurr’s The Shakespearean Stage to create a database of early english drama, similar to DEEP but with less detail.  Instead, I wish to use the data for a new visualization project beyond the timeline.  More on that later.

~I fear that much of my time spent typing away on the database and on Shakesbook has made me type less and less on prose and poetry.  The result of which has been, I feel, a decline in both my aptitude in writing and my desire to write.  I am going to try to spend the month of March recovering that by posting at least once a day.  (We shall see whether that pans out in my favor though)

~I have been thinking about both my papers for this term and questioning how I can distil information as broad as something like a database of early modern plays into both the word limit and words at all.  I have spoken with my tutors at York about this but the consensus seems to be that it is something I must figure out on my own.  This is one more item that might pop up again later.

That’s all for now.

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I Warrant He Hath A Thousand Of These Letters, Writ With Blank Space For Different Names

In York I received a flyer that was uniquely individualized.  A couple of weeks prior, for Thanksgiving dinner, my partner Emily and I ordered out from Pizza Hut and we bought two “Create Your Own” pizzas.  In the advert we received later, there is a picture which is presumably Pizza Hut’s portrayal of a normal “Create Your Own Pizza” and it states that “Your Create Your Own Pizza was just the beginning . . .”.  We realized that the ad was tailored to our past buying trends but the same ad, with a change in type of pizza on the front, had gone out to our friends’ houses as well.  To me it seemed like a printed form of Google’s personalized web ads based on your browsing history.  In both cases, each visitor receives a unique response but in essence the website applies the same algorithm to every visitor.  On my WordPress blogs, I also receive a lot of spam “comments” in which a stock phrase or statement is pasted into the comment box of blog posts but caught by a program called Askimet.  I usually take time to read them all before deleting them and they seem to follow the same format as the ads for Pizza Hut and Google.  For instance, there is usually a space filled in by information pertinent to the viewer, usually an outgoing link to other things is present (in Pizza Hut’s case it was printed pictures of additional pizzas), and the use of other acquired information within a set framework.  Because the ad was printed like this, I began thinking about fill-in-the-blanks in literature, particularly in terms of genre and mode related to textual features.  Continue reading

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