Digital Culture

Chronicle catches on, just a little late

So the Chronicle has an article in this week’s issue regarding the possible changes coming down the pike for scholarly communication in the digital age, and what form that might take.

To say they are a little late to the party is a bit of an understatement.

Welcome to what is either an expansive new future for the book in the digital age, or a cacophonous morass that will turn scholarship into a series of flame wars — or both.

Scholars like Mr. Wark, who are as comfortable firing off comments on blogs as they are pontificating at academic conferences, are beginning to question whether the printed book is the best format for advancing scholarship and communicating big ideas.

In tenure and promotion, of course, the book is still king — the whole academic enterprise often revolves around it. But several scholars are using digital means to challenge the current model of academic publishing.

Thanks to the Internet, they argue, the book should be dynamic rather than fixed — not just a text, but a site of conversation. Printouts could still be made and bound, but the real action would be online, and the commentary would form a new kind of peer review.

Even some publishers are experimenting, though so far the most ambitious efforts have been at scholarly journals. Nature, for instance, started a program this summer in which authors can opt to have articles they submit made available immediately as electronic pre-prints that anyone can comment on. Those papers are still reviewed the old-fashioned way, but the comments by online users are also taken into consideration.

Many academic publishers shrug off open-review e-books as simply the latest technological fad, saying that the time-tested peer-review process should not be replaced by bands of volunteers.

Whether traditional publishers join in or not, there is no doubt that academic discourse is increasingly occurring on blogs and other online forums. So how can that energy be channeled into accepted forms of scholarship? Is it time for the book to get a high-tech makeover?

We in the blogosphere have been doing this sort of thing for some time…Wark’s experiment with this is amazing, but he’s hardly the first to open up a scholarly paper to online critique. And the Chronicle is woefully behind the times in talking about it now…the first blog entry from here that I could find on the subject dates back to April of 2004.

But it’s timely that this is published now. I just realized last week that as much as I have said about blogs and other online contributions counting for tenure and other academic advancement, I hadn’t listed this very blog on my CV. Talk about an oversight! So I added it, and in my most recent quarterly report to my Dean, I added statistics for the blog as well. Any discussion about this subject is welcome, dear readers…I especially would love to know if other library bloggers list their blog on their CV or in reports to those higher up.

But my point of view on this subject is pretty clear: Scholarly Publication, as it has been known, is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet. The new digital models of open communication that allow for commentary while maintaining clear versioning of documents, combined with the Open Access movement and the nearly-costless ease of online publication will become the dominant scholarly communication method in the next 20 years.

Books Library Issues Media

Turn it up!

I’ve got a ton of leftover stuff I still want to talk about from ALA Annual. Here’s my favorite vendor sign from the exhibit hall at ALA in New Orleans…

Large Print Audiobooks

Large Print Audiobooks? Do they just talk louder?

Digital Culture


Neil Gaiman @ ALA

Digital Culture

Eating words….

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, the Interweb brings you another stunning example of the odd.

This gentleman is determined to eat the entire works of Neil Gaiman. I do mean eat. Yes, the literal books.

There truly are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of….

Books Digital Culture

Building on yesterday’s…

…post about D&D, here’s a page from Wizards of the Coast that has a TON of free PDFs of old D&D products. Tons of great reading here, and more adventures than you could shake a vorpal sword at:

Previous Edition Downloads

Books Digital Culture Personal

Afternoon Adventures With Dungeons & Dragons

Check it out…Wizards of the Coast, the current publishers of the venerable Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game have started a “roleplay in the library” system. Looks like they are using libraries as both publicity and marketing tools, while providing the library with a free copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Game. I suppose they also hope that libraries will begin collecting more and more D&D products (the reason that a lot of libraries don’t already collect RPGs is that they walk…fast and often).

Blurb from the website:

The Afternoon Adventure with DUNGEONS & DRAGONS program will include everything librarians need to start regular gaming programs in their library with the original pen-and-paper roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D for short). Players assume the persona of fantasy characters and pursue magical adventures, confronting and solving problems using strategic thinking and teamwork.

For librarians interested:

To receive an Afternoon Adventure kit for your library, please call 1-800-613-3791, or send an e-mail with your name, address, the library you’re from, and how you found out about the program to: One kit per library please and quantities are limited.

As an old-school gamer, I’m all for this. I grew up cutting my teeth on the original D&D boxed editions (how I love thee, red box) and moved on to great games like Star Wars, Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, and my all time fav, Paranoia. Getting more kids into RPGs is a good thing, as far as I can tell. Go librarians!

Books Media

The Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

One word:


I’ll not spoil anything for those of you still working your way through it. But in a week or so, I wanna hear what everyone thought, and where you think the story is heading. This one went in all the directions I expected (except one) and I’m interested in what she’s doing with certain characters, and how the whole thing might wrap up.

My verdict: I loved it, but I like all the books. It’s not my favorite of the bunch, but it certainly had its surprising moments, as well as its warm fuzzy ones. Damn spoilers….hurry up, every one, so I can talk about it!


Stranger in a Strange Land

Product Image: Stranger in a Strange Land
My rating: 4 out of 5

One of my all time favorite novels, recently re-read. Heinlein certainly had his problems…his portrayals of women especially should raise a few eyebrows, but the theme of the book is still a powerful one. One of the first pure sci-fi books I was able to convince Betsy to read, and it even won her over.