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Posts from the ‘New Publications’ Category

ACLS Publishes 2011 Haskins Prize Lecture by Henry Glassie in Print and Video [Free Online]

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has published the textual and video versions of the 2011 Haskins Prize Lecture by Henry Glassie, College Professor of Folklore Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington. “Named for the first chairman of ACLS, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture has as its theme “A Life of Learning.” The lecturer is asked “to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.”” Professor Glassie delivered his Life of Learning lecture during a meeting of the ACLS in Washington, DC on May 6, 2011. The first folklorist recognized with the Haskins Prize, Professor Glassie was preceded in the lectureship by many scholars of distinction, including William Labov, Clifford Geertz, Natalie Zemon Davis, John Hope Franklin, and Mary R. Haas.

Congratulations again to my friend, colleague, and teacher Henry Glassie on this remarkable honor.

Curiously Weak DRM (in University Press-Hosted Companion Websites)

I was just scouting out a new academic book of interest to me using Google Books. I was able to browse chapters, study the table of contents etc. The book is published by one of the largest of the university presses. It can also be browsed in Amazon.com. On a subject where audio and video is relevant, the book has a companion website hosted by the press. Information on this companion website is available in the front mater for the book. Looking at this page in the Google Books representation, I saw the URL followed by:

To accompany “TITLE OF PRINT BOOK BY MAJOR UNIVERSITY PRESS HERE”, we have created a password-protected website where readers can access the recordings linked to the chapters.”

Access with username XXXXX# and password XXXX####.

The user name and password are presented as fixed text in the book and they are visible to everyone via the Google Books version.

What factors could account for the imposition of DRM (Digital Rights Management) in such a weak, permanently affixed, and circumventable form? Did they not put the media on a straight open platform because they promised the rights holders that it would only be available to purchasers of the book? (Including library users.) Are there actual advantages to doing things this way? How reliable a preservation framework is implied by the strategy used by this (very large) university press? Does anyone expect this website to exist and work (via this username and password) ten years from now?  Is this standard operating procedure and I have just not noticed it yet?

If robots write one of these biographies about you, will you purchase it?

Its crazy stuff like this that makes my senior colleagues so dubious about the internet in general and the changing publications landscape in particular.

I follow a twitter feed called Anthropology Books. I have never investigated who put it together and I do not know anything about it except that it has been useful to me. Using some kind of automated approach, the person or software behind Anthropology Books has been very usefully telling me (and about 1000 other folks) about “All new anthropology books posted on their publication day.” If a title seems interesting, there is a link that takes one to the book’s Amazon.com page.

Today, books with the names of famous and not-so-famous anthropologists (and folklorists) started showing up in the stream today. Alan Dundes was one that caught my eye first. He is very important figure in folklore studies and a very good candidate for a proper biography. Other names started showing up, including those of active colleagues who are basically my own age! They all had unfamiliar to me authors and publishers.  There was a flood of them today.

Looking at the books on Amazon.com, one is (sometimes) confronted with the information that “the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online.” I took this quote from the book on Dorothy Eggan. This 84 page book is selling for $47.00 and has been published by Lect Publishing. The book is credited to the editorship of Nuadha Trev. This editor shows up in Amazon.com as the person behind about 3000 books. Lect Publishing is only one of several names associated with the same basic project and Nuadha Trev is only one of several editors.

I know that others have been writing a lot recently about Amazon’s publishing toolkit. Also at issue here is the CC licensing of Wikipedia etc. content. The student publishing group that I work with here at Indiana–Trickster Press–makes great use of CreateSpace+Amazon for the publication of real peer-reviewed monographs and I am certainly appreciative of, and in debt to, the Creative Commons. These resources are not to blame for the creation of this kind of spam-like books, but I think that they represent a problem on several fronts. Perhaps it is enough to say that they give the Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Amazon, remix, and scholarly communications reform a bad name.

I would love to know who would purchase one of these books. Maybe some of them are traps designed to extract cash out of their living subjects. Here is an example. The publisher “Fedel” has just published a 108 page/$54 book on ethnomusicologist/linguist/anthropologist Aaron Fox. (He and I know people in common but are not yet acquainted.) Would Professor Fox feel like he had no choice but to purchase this book to see what it said about him? Would I feel similarly compelled if one were published on me? His is one of about 3000 titles edited by “Christabel Donatienne Ruby”, but does Christabel Donatienne Ruby actually exist?

I would also love to know about the technical infrastructure that automatically (?) assembles these books and feeds them into Amazon. Anybody understand this stuff?

Update:  Thankfully the people behind the wikipedia article for VDM Publishing seem to understand it pretty well. For background, see the entry here. See also the discussion on slashdot here.

AFS Releases Lay and Expert Knowledge Project Reports #oaweek

In time for Open Access Week, the American Folklore Society and the Center for Folklore Studies at The Ohio State University have just made available a collection of reports and working papers derived from the Society’s project on Lay and Expert Knowledge in a Complex Society. This two-year project was funded by the Teagle Foundation as part of its “Big Questions and the Disciplines” program and focused examined undergraduate teaching of folklore in the contemporary world.

These materials are available now as volume 2 of the series Working Papers of the Center for Folklore Studies under the editorship of PIs Dorothy Noyes and Timothy Lloyd. This working paper series is made available through the OSU KnowledgeBank (the OSU institutional repository) and are harvested for search (OAI-PMH interoperability!) through the Open Folklore portal.

It has been an honor to participate in this project and I am super happy that first rate open access strategies are being used to make the work more accessible.

Loans and Books: Two Brief Observations Made During the Student Debt Revolt

Many excellent graduate students with whom I have the honor of working receive only modest or no assistantship or fellowship aid. Historically, many have supported themselves in part during graduate school with government-backed student loans. This has always been a source of anxiety for me, but matters grew worse for U.S. students earlier this year when the major federal loan program changed its structure so that graduate students receiving such loans must begin paying them back immediately rather than after graduation. For students studying in the world in which I work, such a scenario is hardly possible. Even students with assistantships are just above the poverty line.

Meanwhile, more and more excellent scholarly resources ideal for the training of these students are being produced. But they are on the market at a price that no starving graduate student can afford and at which most professors would feel guilty assigning them. This reoccurring thought returned to me when I noted the publication of a very impressive looking ethnobiology textbook. It was also on my mind when I spoke last week to an editor of what promises to be the absolutely essential handbook for folklore studies. That volume will be rich beyond measure, but at 680 pages and 29 cents per page how will any of us afford to purchase it? If my library can afford it, I plan to sit and read it cover to cover in the stacks. Excellent scholars are producing excellent work, but the business model fails us, or at least our students.

A glimmer of hope came during the #AFS11 meetings. A group of folklorists have begun discussions aimed at creating an free and open access textbook for undergraduate folklore studies. One possible publication platform being discussed is connexions centered at Rice University. Hopefully folklore studies can become a leading field in the cultivation of Open Educational Resources. I cannot see how we can continue down the path that we are heading.

Check Out Roy Boney’s Awesome Graphic Feature on Cherokee Language and Literacy

Indian Country Today has just published an awesome graphic feature by Roy Boney on the history of Cherokee literacy from the time of Sequoyah to the time of unicode. I do not need to go on and on and on about it. Its really great and you need to check it out.

Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights

My review of Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights by former NEA Chairman (and AFS President) Bill Ivey was recently published in JFRR (Journal of Folklore Research Reviews). JFRR is an open access fork of the established toll access folklore journal Journal of Folklore Research. JFRR publishes reviews of diverse media in folklore studies and circulates the reviews via email.  They are also available in search-able form online at http://www.indiana.edu/~jofr/reviewsearch.php.

My review can be found online here:  http://www.indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=715

Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains

I am very pleased to note the publication of the exhibition catalog Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains. This book has been published by the Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with the University of Washington Press on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name that has been organized by the Brooklyn Museum and that will travel to the Autry National Center for the American West in LA and the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. It is a beautiful book on a topic that long been of scholarly and general interest. The project has been organized by and the catalog edited by Nancy B. Rosoff and Suzan Zeller of the Brooklyn Museum. I am taking special notice of the book here because it includes contributions from three of my close friends and collaborators.  Daniel C. Swan and Michael P. Jordan (Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History) have published a chapter titled “Tipis and the Warrior Tradition,” which focused on their collaborative work with Kiowa people and organizations and Christina E. Burke (Philbrook Museum) has published a chapter on “Growing Up on the Plains,” which explores child raising and associated material culture among the Native peoples of the Plains in the context of the tipi as vernacular architecture.

Kellie Hogue on Lakota Kinship and Myth

Congratulations to IU Doctoral Student Kellie Hogue on the publication of her new article: “A Myth of Kinship? Reinterpreting Lakota Conceptualization of Kin Relationships vis-à-vis 19th and 20th Century Historical Narratives.” in the Journal de la Société des Américanistes find an abstract and citation information here: http://jsa.revues.org/index11529.html

Wenner-Gren Foundation Takes Major Step for Open Access

Anthropologists have reason to cheer with news from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research that the biannual symposium proceedings published by the Foundation as an extension of the journal Current Anthropology will now be made available in open access form. Wenner-Gren Foundation President Leslie Aiello describes the move and the rationale behind it in a [toll wall protected] contribution to the latest issue of Current Anthropology [volume 51, page 727, December 2010] See: DOI: 10.1086/657920.

The two supplements published in 2010 are freely available via the journal’s page at the University of Chicago Press.  Formatted like the journal, these are book-sized edited collections organized thematically. Discussing the history of the Foundation’s Symposium efforts, Aiello writes:

The first Wenner-Gren Symposium was in 1952, and since then, more than 170 symposia and workshops have been sponsored by the foundation. Many of these have resulted in landmark edited volumes that have made significant contributions to the development of our field (see http://www.wennergren.org/history). In today’s electronic age, the foundation wants to ensure that its symposia continue to have a significant impact and reach the broadest possible international audience. We believe that open-access publication in Current Anthropology is the best way to achieve this goal.

This is wonderful news and a real advancement. One more reason to say thank you to Wenner-Gren for its dedication to the discipline of anthropology. Wenner-Gren joins other scholarly foundations working to advance the cause of a more just, rational, and effective system of scholarly communication.

Note:  While there is not a press-release on the Foundation website regarding this shift, there is a discussion of the move to publishing the symposium in connection with the journal (rather than as edited books). This announcement also discusses several recent symposium volumes.

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