Author: dlattanzi

A Survey of University Presses

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dlattanzi:

An insightful exploration of University Presses.

Originally posted on The Scholarly Kitchen:

Surveying
Surveying (Photo credit: Wessex Archaeology)

As I announced on the Kitchen a while back, I have been working on a research project in the university press area. Specifically, I have been trying to determine how university presses could sell more books, both print and electronic, directly from their Web sites. There may be several posts to come from this research, but for now I want simply to report what the participating presses had to say about their operations and their aspirations for direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales.

The survey was put into a Web form, which the presses were invited to fill out. Sixty-nine did so, which is a considerable portion of the total press community. The aim of the online survey was to capture specific data; I have been following up with telephone interviews with many of the respondents in order to get at more qualitative information. On the forms…

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About the Field School: How Folklife Archives Work

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Where the processing begins

The Folklore Studies Program at George Mason University is one of the few programs in the U.S. the offers comprehensive instruction in ethnographic methods and data collection.  Thirty-seven years ago, my colleague, Professor Emerita Margaret Yocom founded the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive. Students have been submitting original work to the archive since.

In 2011, working with colleagues at the Library of Congress, I began the Field School for Cultural Documentation at GMU.  The field school has been in existence for nearly 20 years; I’m pleased that GMU has the opportunity to host the field school and offer students professional training in research methods and project planning.  Field School graduates acquire real-life work skills in ethnographic data collection, in-depth interviewing, and project management.  Many go on to take positions as professional ethnographers for government agencies and private industry.

As part of the field school, students are told that their collections will become part of the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive.  It’s an important aspect of the project–students need to understand that the field school is not simply a class project. They’re doing real and significant research that will be available to other scholars, researchers and community members who will want to know more about the places and people the field school documents.

This year we’re transferring all of the hard-copy files and objects in the physical archive (located at George Mason University) to a fully digital archive as part of the National Folklife Archives Initiative.  Most of the work we’ve collected since 2011 is now available through the archives.

Why archive the materials?  So much of the work that graduate and advanced undergraduates do is read by one person-the instructor.  This is unfortunate.  Students are capable of  producing fantastic collections that might be useful for future research and understanding.  Too many important collections get tossed out.

Sometimes students become territorial with their collections and are reluctant to share it with the archive.  For classes other than the field school, M.A. and Ph.D. theses,  students have the option of donating their materials to the archive.  If a student has pending publications on work, I ask them to consider donating to the archives after their work is completed or published.  That way they are the first to write about their collections, and future researchers can still benefit from their work.

Scott Belsky: Following through on Creative Projects

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Ever find yourself jumping from idea to idea, hooked on the high of idea generation but never completing any one project? 99% Conference speaker Scott Belsky breaks down road-tested methods for seeing ideas through to the finish.

Scott Belsky is author of Making Ideas Happen.

How to Apply for the Amtrak Residency

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From the Amtrak blog:

What began as a line in Alexander Chee’s interview in PEN Ten and was fueled by Twitter, is now an official Amtrak program.

As many of you may know by now, our test-run for Amtrak Residency was done by Manhattan-based writer Jessica Gross, whose piece, Writing The Lakeshore Limited was published in February by The Paris Review. What followed was overwhelming support on Twitter and in the media with #AmtrakResidency being featured in The Wire, The New Yorker, and Huffington Post among others.

Today we are happy to announce that #AmtrakResidency will allow for up to 24 writers to take long-distance trainsto work on their projects. Each writer’s round-trip journey will include accommodations on board a sleeper car equipped with a bed, a desk and outlets. We hope this experience will inspire creativity and most importantly fuel your sense of adventure!

Are you excited about #AmtrakResidency? Want to learn more and apply? Head over to our official entry form and good luck!

The Rooster has come!

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I got my “invite” for a free two week subscription.  

Waiting for my Rooster to Crow

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Rooster App

I read about the new Rooster App on the Washington Post, and it sounds perfect for me and my newly busy life. I grieve the fact that I don’t have blocks of time to read fiction, but this seems like the perfect solution:

You don’t need to wait at the docks for the latest installment of Charles Dickens’s “Old Curiosity Shop.” But what if your iPhone could recreate the excitement — and convenience — of reading a novel in serial form?

Check out a new app called Rooster, which has the backing of some of the biggest names in the tech industry. It launches Tuesday in the Apple app store, and was created specifically for the iPhone. Every month, Rooster will send two novels to your phone: a classic tale and a contemporary story, paired to provoke interesting reflection.

But these books aren’t just dumped on you in one I’ll-never-get-to-it download. Instead, the novels arrive in your cellphone in manageable installments, according to a schedule you set yourself. “War & Peace” looks so much less daunting as a serial tale consumed every day at lunchtime like “The Days of Our Lives.” The service costs $4.99 a month.

I was excited to get started, but as soon as I downloaded the app, I got a message “please request an invitation.” So I did.  A few seconds later I got a message that basically said I’m on a waitlist and will receive an invitation when one is available.

What’s that about?

I’m happy and willing to pay the $4.99 a month to give Rooster a try.  I’m not sure what the developers are thinking–perhaps there are free memberships to get people hooked, thus the wait?  It’s completely unclear.

I am extremely disappointed. I really wanted to give this one a try.

For now I’m contenting myself by reading Gay Degani’s serialized novel, What Came Before.  It is wonderful and highly recommended.  But I’m still annoyed about Rooster.

Rick Anderson at the Smithsonian: “Is a Rational Discussion of Open Access Possible?”

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Originally posted on The Scholarly Kitchen:

I was recently invited to give a talk as part of a lecture series titled  The  Open Access Future , sponsored by the Smithsonian Libraries, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and the Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. I decided to focus on the issue that has been troubling me most lately: why is it so hard to have conversations about OA that don’t devolve into shouting matches and accusations of bad faith? What has led to this state of affairs, how bad is the problem now, and what can we do to create a more open, inclusive, and reasonable environment for discussion of the complex issues surrounding OA and the economics of scholarly communication generally? I came up with a provocative title (“Is a Rational Discussion of Open Access Possible?”) and delivered the lecture on March 10, 2014. Here’s the archived video of the lecture and of the discussion that…

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A Solitary World: Homage to H.G. Wells

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A Stunning Tribute to H.G. Wells via Cinematic Poetry

Why I am working so much?

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“Respect the sanctity of the snow day,” said one of my wise colleagues earlier this year.  As a department chair, I make every effort to remember her advice, but usually not for myself.

Today our university is closed in response to the Titan winter storm, but I’m still working, grading papers, reviewing dissertation drafts, and the trying to get ahead of the loads of administrative work the is required for my job.

I was contemplating all of this when I came upon this article, published today in InsideHigherEd, which does a great job explaining why I’m working instead of enjoying that novel I’ve been dying to read all semester.

 
In Search of Lost Time
March 3, 2014
 
As I am writing this article, I should be writing something else: an email to an editor, an email to an author, a letter of recommendation, notes for tomorrow’s classes, comments on students’ papers, comments on manuscripts, an abstract for an upcoming conference, notes for one of the books I’m working on. I cannot remember the last time I ended a day having crossed everything off my to-do list.
 
Why do academics work so much?

1) Part of it is habit. When we’re just starting out, we learn to say “yes” to everything. Join this panel? Yes. Send article in to special issue? Yes. Write a book review? Yes. Join committee in professional organization? Yes. Indeed, we learn to look for things to say yes to. This is how you build your C.V. Go to conferences, publish, get involved. If you don’t do it, you won’t get that elusive tenure-track job. Then, should you become one of the few who get the job, you’ll need to maintain a level of production in order to get tenure. Should you get tenure, you’ll want one day to get promoted. If that happens, and you reach full professor, well, best to keep publishing … just in case. What if your university falls on hard times? Or you need to move? Tenure is good, but portable tenure is better. So you just get on that treadmill and never get off.

2) Part of it is economics. At my university we have no “cost of living” raises. We have merit raises, but only when the state budget allows. So you always want to be in the top tier — the “Highest Merit” group — just in case there’s money for a raise. And I’m speaking here as one of the lucky, tenured few. For adjuncts, the situation is more dire. Everywhere, they teach more classes and for less money just to make ends meet, and may not even manage to do that. Employed at the whim of the academic labor market, adjuncts are increasingly joining the ranks of the working poor.

3) Busy-ness is also built into the structure of academic work. The more you do and the longer you’re in the profession, the more opportunities and obligations accrue. Writing letters for colleagues and students, getting onto committees, contributing to a book edited by a contributor to the book you edited, giving invited talks, writing grant proposals, and so on.  Some of this work is interesting (I enjoy traveling and giving talks, for example), but it’s still work.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2014/03/03/essay-why-faculty-members-work-so-much#ixzz2uvUWfklB
Inside Higher Ed