Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A little linkspam for today, courtesy of Twitter.

1. Here's a hilarious video by Ron Charles on "Booklette," a new online tool that, takes "the flesh-crawling weirdness of Chat Roulette and combine[s] it with the total uselessness of crowdsourced reviewing."

2. Jen Howard's much-tweeted Chronicle article (paywall) on link rot and other perils of postmodern citation.
Links don't last. The "Disappearing Act" authors found that "49.3 percent of the original 2,011 cited resources could not be located at the cited URL," according to the paper's abstract. "The older the article, the more likely that URL's in the reference list of that article were inactive."

As part of her study, Ms. Wagner did a literature review of about 95 other link-rot studies across all disciplines, including a few in the humanities. (If you know of humanities-related work on link rot, please let me hear about it.) The universal conclusion: Too often "the stuff was just not there anymore," she told me. "It is a problem that affects all fields."

3. Kevin Dettmar's lovely post on "the tender-hearted professor":
College professors take a lot of heat from the general public, and we deserve much of what we get; and humanities professors get the worst of it. And arguably, English professors the worst of that: we represent, apparently, the absolute nadir of contemporary culture.

I said that to some degree we deserve it; what I did not say, you’ll notice, is that it’s true. Untrue, but we deserve it? Well, yes: I think that college professors as a group, and English professors as a high-visibility (and high-risibility) subset, have done a terrible job of explaining just what it is that we do, and actively countering the most pernicious caricatures of our work that circulate in the larger culture.

One of the received ideas about profs, of course, is that we’re incurably self-absorbed. It’s hardly convincing for me to argue that I’m not self-absorbed, of course; here I am, sitting at my laptop, writing on my blog, and if I were a world-class narcissist, presumably I’d be the last to know. But I can tell you about my colleagues (by which I mean not just those with whom I work at Pomona, but my professional colleagues nationally and internationally); they sometimes disappoint, but far more often, I’m stunned by their generosity.

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