|Author:||Julie L. Holcomb|
|Title:||Print Resources in History and Computing|
|Publication Info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Print Resources in History and Computing
Julie L. Holcomb
vol. 9, no. 2, October 2006
Print Resources in History and Computing
**Andersen, Deborah Lines, ed. Digital Scholarship in the Tenure, Promotion, and Review Process. History, Humanities, and New Technology Series. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2004. x + 277 pp. Tables, figures, bibliography, index. $68.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-7656-1113-9; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 0-7656-1114-7.
Colleges and universities usually have clear cut guidelines on how to evaluate academics for their research, teaching, and service contributions. There is currently a movement to add digital scholarship to guidelines for the promotions and tenure process. Deborah Andersen's book offers current research on digital scholarship, including case studies on its usage and sample guidelines developed to incorporate digital scholarship into the university setting.
Technology is constantly changing the way knowledge is created and disseminated. Disciplines such as the sciences and social sciences have embraced digital scholarship as a more robust and efficient means of communicating new ideas across and within their disciplines. Today, a scientist is as likely to contribute a scholarly work to a peer-reviewed e-journal as he or she is to a traditional hard copy publication. However, scholars in the humanities have not embraced digital scholarship as willingly as their scientific counterparts, and it is unclear if the academy values digital research contributions in the same way it does contributions to traditional paper publications. As Andersen argues in her well-written introduction to this volume of essays, the value an institution places on a certain type of scholarship directly affects the evaluation of said scholarship in the promotions and tenure process. Andersen makes a strong case for why the academy, and the humanities in particular, should remove the stigma surrounding digital scholarship and reward it in an equal manner to traditional scholarship, evaluating scholarly output on its research merits, innovation, and the pre-publication review process regardless of what format the final version may take.
The volume begins by offering a definition and evaluation of digital scholarship, identifying its uses now and in the future academic environment. It examines the ways in which digital scholars publish and how they are currently evaluated. The book consists of thirteen essays that are arranged into three parts: policies and procedures, creation of digital scholarship, and issues relating to the present and the future of digital scholarship in the tenure process. The essay authors come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, from technology and political science to library science, education, and history. The essays offer insight into how computers are currently used in the classroom, how universities are changing their tenure, promotion, and review policies to include digital scholarship, and what lies ahead for the digital scholar.
Andersen does not blindly promote digital scholarship without recognizing its potential hazards. She points out, for example, the archival issues relating to long-term access of electronic resources. Andersen is also diplomatic in her treatment of humanities scholars and their reluctance to embrace digital endeavors. She offers clear reasons for this reluctance; for example, she notes that humanists study materials that are often not in digital format, and that whereas scientists usually compile their own data and store it electronically for analysis, humanists study the output of others, often researching primary sources to interpret and provide new meaning to them.
In perhaps Andersen's most compelling argument, she points out the domino effect of digital scholarship in universities, making it clear that if promotion and tenure review boards do not value digital scholarship they will likely be holding back the growth of their college, school, or department by making themselves less attractive to potential incoming junior faculty accustomed to being digital scholars. In addition, Andersen argues that a university that does not value digital scholarship is less likely to benefit from the use of technology in the classroom because if faculty are shown that digital scholarship is undervalued they are less likely to spend traditional research time investigating new and innovative ways to incorporate technology into the classroom.
Academics from all disciplines would benefit from reading this work to better understand the current nature of digital scholarship and how it fits into the promotions and tenure process. Information in this volume provides fodder for every scholar to become a successful advocate for digital scholarship by clearly stating the justification for working with new media. It is in the best interest of anyone in the academy, whether facing a review, or participating in a promotions and tenure review board, to become familiar with the issues in this book.
**Mosco, Vincent. The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2004. 232 pp. ISBN 0-262-13439-X. $15.95
In his book The Digital Sublime, Vincent Mosco examines cyberspace through the twin lenses of myth and power. As he states in chapter 1 "Myth is the starting or entry point to a valuable understanding of computer communication, but it leads to, requires and (particularly as I will demonstrate in the final chapter) is mutually constituted with a political economic perspective" (p. 7). He takes great care in defining what he means by myth - what can be learned through its examination and what cannot. He uses stories, other authors' works, and examples from history to help the reader recognize how examining the Internet and cyberspace from the perspective of both myth and the material sphere of power can deepen our understanding of their impact on our society and the world.
To lay the foundation for his ideas he presents three major cyberspace myths: the end of history, the end of geography and the end of politics. Each of these myths is examined in the light of very detailed citations of earlier authors and scholars. His goal is not as much to prove or disprove each myth, but instead to illustrate how their evolution and strength shed light on new perspectives of cyberspace. While it can be a bit challenging to follow in some places, Mosco is careful to attribute every idea to its rightful owner as he faithfully traces the path of ideas needed to reach his conclusions. While those already familiar with the writings of Francis Fukuyama, Daniel Bell, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the like may have the advantage in this section of the book - careful reading of the included quotations will bring others along. He introduces us to the bricoleurs or "storytellers of cyberspace." The Nicholas Negropontes of the world who pull "together the bits and pieces of technology's narratives, to fashion a mobilizing story for our time" (p. 36). He demonstrates why the bricoleurs' voices are heard and believed more readily than the voices of those who do not weave myth into their ideas when presenting them to the public.
Mosco explores the similarities between the myths surrounding earlier technological breakthroughs starting with the telegraph and progressing through electricity, television, cable and finally the internet. "...history is filled with mythmaking about technology and has more to say than ever before about how we invent myths whenever we invent technology" (p. 117). Each new breakthrough brought the same declarations of the imminent transformation of society. He talks about why we have a strong urge towards historical amnesia leading us to forget that the same promises were made with the last big breakthrough. People want to dream. They want to leave the banal of their everyday lives behind and look with hope towards something that claims to change everything. He argues that this desire to believe in the life-altering capacity of cyberspace was the main source of confidence leading to the stock market run up preceding the dot com bust. It is interesting to note with each passing technological breakthrough that the most dramatic changes have come when the technology is woven into the fabric of our daily lives and is no longer considered exceptional.
Mosco's writing shines when he is telling a story, rather than coaxing us from the ideas of one brilliant scholar to the next. The second half of the book, covering the comparison of the myths that surrounded earlier technological breakthroughs and an insightful chapter on the World Trade Center (WTC) and 9/11, is beautifully written. He examines as a case study, the creation of the WTC and the influences of cyberspace, myth and power which led to its creation. He does a fine job of detailing the realities of political power and how those in powerful positions can leverage the myths of cyberspace to get their way without most of the population being any the wiser. Each piece of the picture Mosco is building falls easily into place. At the end of the book readers find themselves with a new perspective on the web of myths and interactions weaving from cyberspace to political power to globalization.
This book is highly recommended to those with an interest in new ways of gauging the impact of cyberspace on modern society. While it has a strongly academic tone for the first half of the book, the second half's well written story telling is a goal worthy of the effort required to read it.
**Mueller, Milton L. Ruling the Root. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002. vii + 317 pp. notes. $20.00 (Paper), ISBN: 0262134128.
Finally some answers; but also more questions
In the spring of 1998, the U.S. government told the Internet: "Govern yourself" (p .i). In Ruling the Root, Milton L. Mueller documents the history of the Internet root both before and after this decision by the government and looks closely at the interests that were affected and the ways those Internet interests influenced that history.
The book is organized into three parts: part 1 discusses the structure and background of the Internet; part 2 looks at the history of the issues involved; and part 3 investigates how all of this will continue to affect the long-term policy including the social issues that have developed due to the institutionalization of the Internet.
The Internet developed as a means of sharing information among people who could follow the protocols. The protocols were developed by computer scientists and engineers from various backgrounds who were engaged in an enterprise funded without expectations of direct profit by their commercial and nonprofit employers, as well as by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. This was a loosely organized enterprise but it had many elements of self-governance. For instance the engineers who worked on Net protocols came to know each other, selected leaders they had faith in and agreed upon processes to help them come to accord on contested issues. They all felt that moving forward was more important than waiting until they could move forward perfectly. Mueller looks at all of this and suggests that the interaction of these groups and leaders had a significant influence on the formation of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
Mueller defines ICANN as a new international regime, an organization that will, as time goes by, become more politicized and attract government participation. He does explain that in its development, it did not stray far from the desires of its most powerful stakeholders, including the United States government and the staff of the European Commission. Even so, he examines the management of ICANN as a global regime while indicating that it should operate outside the normal institutional constraints of national governments. The book also explores the World Intellectual Property Organization's attempt to use the ICANN regime to create a new system of global property rights in names. Thus the book takes a really good look at the growth of the root, the development of property rights conflicts and the emergence of the new institutional framework to resolve these conflicts. It includes a detailed discussion of the actions of these organized interest groups, particularly the intellectual property holders, who intentionally reached for control of the root in order to force an ordered process upon the Internet that would follow their philosophy.
Mueller points out that certain elements of the Internet, most notably its naming and numbering schemes, require some form of central coordination, if only to ensure that uniqueness. He shows that the theory "first come, first gets" really did not work due to the influence of trademark, copyright and other corporate interests; he argues that by 1997, the Internet's supply of "good" names was thought to be drying up. Worse, certain good names were thought to be in the wrong hands. As a Web presence became a near-necessity for large businesses, the realization that corporate marquee names such as avis.com and mcdonalds.com already had been reserved, first-come, first-served, by individuals with no connections to these specific companies or popular/cultural icons. This caused anxiety among these trademark holders.
Mueller believes that without central coordination, two different Net destinations might advertise themselves as possessing identical numeric or named identities, and data could be misrouted. Since there were no obvious political or financial winners and losers at the start of this, it soon became apparent that good faith and handshakes were ineffective in resolving domain name disputes which is why the strategy to form a governing body that would isolate domain name issues was generated.
Mueller demonstrates how the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standards process has been responsible for the spectacularly successful bedrock elements on which the Internet functions today. He emphasizes the importance of these standards and reflects the desire to have all network entities interacting according to the same protocols, allowing different brands and platforms of computers to communicate with each other without bulky translation software or gateways. Insisting on this, he shows how the real challenge lies in maintaining an open Internet, with points of access and pathways that do not discriminate against particular users, programs, or data.
He does not answer all the questions about ICANN or about other areas of protocol, control and management of roots and the questions he leaves open are important. We all should continue to explore them and help ensure that no one group, organization, or country has total control. This book is a starting point and helps me to clarify many of the questions I have on roots and Internet policies and protocol and their history. This book will give us the impetus to start our own inquiry into these questions and then move forward.
**Pitti, Daniel V. and Wendy M. Duff, editors. Encoded Archival Description on the Internet. New York, NY: The Haworth Information Press, 2001. 241 p. ISBN 0-7890-1398-3. $49.95.
For over a decade, there has been a strong demand to publish unique archival and museum-related materials to the Internet. In Encoded Archival Description on the Internet, the editors have compiled a collection of papers that discuss the beginnings of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and how it has become a major tool in assisting archivists, special collections librarians, museum curators, and members of the community of cultural institutions who publish their holdings on the Internet.
The editors state in the introduction that they do not intend for this book to be a "how to" manual for using and implementing EAD; rather to provide a basic introduction to archival description using EAD, and provide examples of the implementation process and use in various contexts within cultural institutions. Encoded Archival Description on the Internet includes eleven papers, as well as an introduction and index. Additionally, the editors have chosen papers that encompass many topics, including: archival description; the development and structure of EAD; archival cataloging and the Internet; consortia approaches involving EAD; government archives and EAD; museums and EAD; and using EAD to assist in the development of usable finding aids.
In helping the reader get a better understanding of EAD and its potential use and impact within cultural institutions (specifically archival repositories) the first two papers offer the following: an introduction to archival description and archives; a detailed overview and history of EAD; and basic characteristics of a finding aid in relation to EAD standards and guidelines. For a more technical understanding of EAD, the next two papers compare and contrast EAD and existing cataloging tools and formats. Specifically, the first of these two papers, by Michael Fox (2001), offers clear comparing and contrasting scenarios of EAD and longstanding cataloging and descriptive schemas. Moreover, the second of these two papers, by Steven Hensen (2001), provides an argument that EAD harmonizes with many longstanding cataloging and descriptive practices.
Although the majority of the papers in this book pertain directly to research-based and manuscript archives, the editors also included a few papers concerning government and museum archives in order to give a better understanding of the breadth of EAD's impact and usability. For example, in the paper by Sweet et al. (2001), the authors explore the implementation of EAD in the Public Record Offices of the United Kingdom, as well as describe how EAD assists not only the employees, but the users in having access to thousands of materials relating to the 11th century. Furthermore, the paper by Richard Rinehart (2001), argues that "EAD appears to offer museums the possibility of complementing traditional item descriptions found in museum management systems with collection information that provides context for enhancing the appreciation and understanding of the items" (p. 5).
As the world continues to change and the demand for increased access on the Internet to unique materials continues to rise, the papers represented in Encoded Archival Description on the Internet provide a basic, and sometimes detailed, understanding of the impact that EAD has had on various cultural institutions in making their unique holdings available. While the papers include technical language, they also are written in such a way that the average researcher, IT employee, archivist, librarian, museum curator, professor, and/or student can grasp the important details and concepts presented. The editors have done a wonderful job compiling this collection of papers, including historical, theoretical, and technical aspects involving EAD and cultural institutions.
**Willinsky, John. The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. xv, 287 p. ISBN 0-262-23242-1. $34.95 hbk.
The world of scholarly academic publishing is currently going through some tremendous changes. Two major events have muddied the waters: the advent of the World Wide Web, and the rising cost of both print and electronic journal subscriptions. This book provides the first thorough investigation of what is known as the "open access" revolution. The author examines various issues on this topic from a number of perspectives, all of them as large chapters in the book: access, copyright, associations, economics, cooperative, development, public, politics, rights, reading, indexing, and history. Of especial interest are the six appendices that provide unique perspectives and case studies in the field. These include an explanation of the ten flavors of open access (listed as home page open access, open access e-print archive, author fee open access, subsidized open access, dual-mode open access, delayed open access, partial open access, per capita open access, open access indexing, and open access cooperatives), a discussion of scholarly association budgets, some background on journal management economies, an example of an open access cooperative, a look at the indexing of the serial literature, and finally how OAI-PMH and Dublin Core are used as metadata for journal publishing.
The author is uniquely qualified to document and record the open access movement. He is the Pacific Press Professor of Literacy and Technology at the University of British Columbia, is the author of Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED, and a developer of Open Journals Systems software. I found the book very interesting, in that the author has a historical view of open access that he shares with the reader, and goes to great lengths to discuss and include problems and challenges of access and technology to scholarly work in developing countries. He quotes numerous sources throughout the book, and there is an extensive references section at the end of the book. Overall, this is an excellent explanation and presentation of the entire open access movement, from the roots of the problem to current attempts at solutions and cooperative ventures. Anyone whose job duties relate to scholarly communication and open access needs to read this book.