Why Books?” will bring together speakers from a variety of disciplines—from literature and history to sociology and computer science—to probe the form and function of the book in a rapidly changing media ecology. Although cultural commentators today speak of “the book” as if it were a well-defined term, its boundaries have been and remain shifting and porous; therefore, one aim of this conference is to expose the complexities and internal contradictions of the “before” against which the digital-era “after” is defined.
In order to look forward to the future(s) of the book, the conference will open with a dialogue on the public-policy implications of new media forms, looking in particular at Harvard’s own response to current technological, legal, and commercial developments. The three panels that follow will explore some of the major functions that we identify with books today: production and diffusion (of texts and images, of knowledge and information); storage and retrieval (of widely varying content in different media and genres); and reception and use (including, but by no means limited to, reading).
The Friday conference, which will take place in the Radcliffe Gymnasium, will be preceded by a series of Thursday afternoon workshops which will take speakers and preregistered participants on “site visits” to various local institutions, including a printing press, a conservation lab, a digital humanities center, and special collections of books and manuscripts. Several exhibitions will coincide with the conference, as well.
For a conference schedule, please visit http://www.radcliffe.edu/events/calendar_2010books.aspx.
Later this month, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, in partnership with the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at the Politecnico di Torino, will host a conference on “University and Cyberspace: Reshaping Knowledge Institutions for the Networked Age,” in Torino, Italy.
This multi-disciplinary conference – held within the context of COMMUNIA, the European thematic network on the digital public domain, - will focus on the ways in which the Internet affects universities as knowledge institutions. The discussions aim to outline changes and questions in order to maximize the benefits offered by these technological advances.
The conference will be held on 28-30 June 2010 on the main campus of Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy.
Please register at: http://university-and-cyberspace.eventbrite.com/. The event is free and open to both COMMUNIA members and the public at large.
Two pieces of news from Brazil called our attention this week.
First, Brazil is cutting back R$ 25.4 billion of its public budget due to the financial crisis. R$ 1.2 billion just from the Ministry of Education (10.6% of its non-fixed expenses) and 6.6% of the non-fixed budget from the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Also, a geography textbook was found to have wildly incorrect maps (the map of South America showed Paraguay twice, misplaced Uruguay, and had Ecuador’s borders touching Brazilian borders). Professors from the public-network of schools that receive textbooks from the National Program of Textbooks often complain about mistakes in the textbooks, they mentioned for local newspapers that mistakes are common, but the errors in the map were the worst they had seen. Mistakes are more generally grammar mistakes and the educational secretariat of states keeps a website alerting schools of errors later found in the textbooks they distribute.
During the period of 1998-2006, the Brazilian government bought books from 110 publishers, spending R$ 4.5 billion, but, due to the oligopoly in the Brazilian book market, only 6 publishing houses – Abril, Santillana, FTD, Saraiva, IBEP, Ediouro e Editora Brasil – received R$ 3.893,3 million, corresponding to 87%. Could OER represent an alternative for high cost of books and materials quality? The collaborative nature of open educational resources brings the inteligence of the crowd to develop and make materials more accurate. Could OER represent a better alternative for regional necessities of localized educational materials? Countries such as Brazil that have uniformed curriculums could take advantage of the flexibility of OER to provide complementary and localized materials to address regional differences.
M-2009 – 7-10 June 2009 in Maastricht in the Netherland- is a one-time merger of the bi-annual World Conference of ICDE (International Council for Open and Distance Education) and the annual European Conference of EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities). The theme for M-2009 is ‘Flexible Education for All: Open – Global – Innovative’.
Noam Cohen is reporting on the New York Times Bits Blog that Microsoft is discontinuing its Encarta encyclopedia. The post credits Wikipedia, which (according to Cohen) has 97% of online encyclopedia hits, as contributing to Microsoft’s decision. From the article:
“The category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed,” it [Encarta's FAQ page] said. “People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past. As part of Microsoft’s goal to deliver the most effective and engaging resources for today’s consumer, it has made the decision to exit the Encarta business.”
Michelle Thorne at Creative Commons is reporting that the CC licenses have been adapted to Thai law. Thailand is the 51st nation to have CC licenses that are compatible with local law. From the article:
Following the launch, CC Thailand will kick off an outreach campaign addressing a range of content providers in Thailand. “We hope to eventually persuade creators to revisit their licensing policies and consider more flexible, reasonable solutions like Creative Commons,” the team [CC Thailand] explains.
Lorna’s JISC CETIS blog outlines a draft of metadata guidelines for the HEFCE/Academy/JISC OER Programme. From the blog post:
Rather than mandating a formal application profile based on a single open standard we are instead identifying the type of information that projects must record for the resources they create without mandating how this should be done. Hopefully this will give projects considerably greater flexibility as to how they describe their resources and ultimately we hope that this will result in richer descriptions that are of value to end users.
Mike Caulfield is reporting on the OCW blog that the International Workshop (T4E) is now accepting papers for its 2009 session. The conference will take place in Bangladore, India on August 4-6. From the blog post:
The theme areas are as follows:
- Growth and impact of the Open Educational Resources movement
- Creation of techniques and standards for accurate identification of relevant learning-resources for a given task
- Semantic web technologies for application in the areas mentioned above
- Personalization of education and student modeling for this purpose
Peter Suber at Open Access News is reporting that librarians at Cornell are speaking out against H.R. 801 bill (reported earlier this month by OEN), which would reduce open access to government-funded research. From Suber’s commentary:
Kudos to the Cornell librarians. It’s terribly important that research institutions speak up, not just individual researchers. The bill could move to the floor at any time, or equivalent language could be attached to another bill moving to the floor.
Pat Lohmann at the New Mexico Daily Lobo is reporting that students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) created a “textbook graveyard,” which consisted of a pile of textbooks that UNM’s bookstore would not buy back. The protest was organized by UMN Public Interest Research Group. From the article:
“Right now, with the state the economy is in, everyone is having a hard time,” she [Sophomore Lindsay Laine] said. “I think that the Bookstore, and textbooks in general, create a monopoly. Students have to buy them, and the prices that they’re charging are ridiculous. I just think it’s a whole bureaucratic, corrupt system.”