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Reality Check: The Enemy Is Us: Cost Reduction in College Sports

Q. Who is responsible for the high cost, high visibility nature of intercollegiate sports? A: You are. Every time you or your family or friends watch a college game on television, buy college apparel with logos, purchase a ticket to the game, or otherwise participate in a college sports activity, you vote for the current system because the current system reflects the active and engaged enthusiasm of Americans for their…

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Orphan Works

Concerns have been raised, however, as to whether current copyright law imposes inappropriate burdens on users, including subsequent creators, of works for which the copyright owner cannot be located (hereinafter referred to as ?orphan?’ works). The issue is whether orphan works are being needlessly removed from public access and their dissemination inhibited. If no one claims the copyright in a work, it appears likely that the public benefit of having…

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Assessing Google as a Teaching & Research Tool

When I recently asked a group of librarians how they thought Google organized its search results, the first suggestion was that Google counts the number of clicks on the links, and adjusts its rankings accordingly. Most of the people in the room seemed satisfied with that answer, but one person volunteered the clarification that Google counts the number of links pointing to a page. That second answer is closer to…

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Doodle Mix-Up Confuses Blair with Bill Gates

When a sheet of paper covered in doodles was found on Tony Blair’s desk at the Davos World Economic Forum, handwriting experts delighted in analyzing it, concluding the prime minister was stressed and under pressure. Experts who examined the tangle of boxes, circles, loops and notes on debt and trade variously described Blair as “struggling to concentrate” or “not a natural leader” and “stressed and tense.” But there was a…

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The Effects of September 11 on the Leading Search Engine

“People who are savvy about how the Internet works don’t even try to find breaking news on the Net.” — Richard W. Wiggins –The Effects of September 11 on the Leading Search Engine (First Monday) Wiggins made this throwaway statement in an article published October 1, 2001. How quickly things change! In his defense, Wiggins was very quick to publish a thoughtful analysis of the ways Google changed during the crisis,…

Technologies of Writing Seminar (1)

So I thought I’d have a go at writing up my notes from the first Technologies of Writing seminar yesterday. (This is the Folger Institute seminar, taught by Peter Stallybrass and Roger Chartier.) There’s no way I can do justice to the three hours, which included not only some terrific conversation but a long presentation of images. But here are some main themes to emerge from this first day. –Matthew…

Ghana's fantasy coffin attraction

The story goes that in the first half of last century one Ata Owoo was well-known for making magnificent chairs to transport the village chief on poles or the shoulders of minions. When Owoo had finished one particularly elaborate creation, an eagle, a neighbouring chief wanted one too, this time in the shape of a cocoa pod. A major crop in Ghana. However, the chief next door died before the…

Righting Copyright: Fair Use and 'Digital Environmentalism'

While it was once believed that Marxism would overhaul notions of ownership, the combination of capitalism and the Internet has transformed our ideas of property to an extent far beyond the dreams of even the most fervent revolutionary. Which is not to say that anything resembling a collectivist utopia has come to pass. Quite the opposite. In fact, the laws regulating property?and intellectual property, in particular?have never before been so…

Against Syllabi

Any syllabus is fated to yield to the messy circumstances of its course, with results that cannot be predicted. This is reason enough to be against syllabi; their presentation of a course as a fully reasoned, systematically organized thing is spurious. A course that is only its syllabus, day after day, is a course where spontaneity, improvisation, and risk have been banished. The loss is too great. –Terry Caesar –Against…