Author Archives: benshaw2013

That Was Fast

I cannot believe that its all done and said. My research project ended up completely changing from what I had originally intended to work on. Now I am looking at the ideas around School Libraries and Public Libraries partnering together to more effectively deliver services. I mean, common, still interesting, but it is amazing how my job has affected my research interest.

 

It was a blast working with you all this semester, hope we get to do it again.

 

Cheers

Ben. S.

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Peer Review

Peer Review is an unnerving process, but it does not have to be. As Camille’s post points out, you can turn a very intimidating and scary process into a learning experience for all involved by following some very simple guidelines. In the Sokal affair the editors were the soul judges of whether or not something was printed. In all honesty their intentions sound good, but in practice, when trying to meet publication deadlines etc, it is no wonder that Sokal felt that the hoax was necessary to expose poor editorial practice. I think that this type of hoax, although arguably in poor taste, is necessary as we are trying to move into an era of open publishing and shared academic research. Open Data is a very noble goal, but how are we able to achieve it without some checks and balances? It is not that Peer Review is going to delay or destroy the ability of open publishers, but there needs to be a better way of ensuring that the mass of academic articles being submitted to online journals maintain a certain standard of integrity.

 

Cheers.

Ben S.

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Preserving Material

This is an interesting topic, especially when we think back to the lecture on ethics and needing to maintain a certain level of anonymity for those who are participating in our research. The requirement to keep any voice recordings only as long as it takes to be able to transcribe the brings into play so many issues about operationalizing your questions before you start your research so that nothing should be lost in order to provide the anonymity that you promise your participants. Just a thought, and on to other things.

I would like to think that I would be able to take a page out of prof Hartel’s book and publish not only my operationalized lexicon, but also my responses as well. I suppose that could only really be done either online, or as an appendix in a monograph, but there are quite a few authors in the book history and bibliographic fields who are trying to publish as much of their research as possible in order to engage the very small fields of study (at this time only D. F. McKenzie’s Printers of the Mind comes to mind). However this entire question hits home with the over all research that I want to work on. How are we able to ensure that digital material is still accessible for future generations.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

Cheers.

Ben S.

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my research mulligan

Revisiting my first post I think that I would be up for looking at the idea of book binding and casing in more detail.

Working in a Public Library right now I feel that there is a disconnect between the monetary value of the textual object that books are and the intellectual value that we should hold for these artifacts. The modern trend to use Thermally Activated Binding (which is basically a bunch of different method to glue loose sheets together) drastically undervalues and undermines the integrity of the textual artifact that has been bound in that way. There are publishers that are able to provide sewn bindings with full cloth cases (specifically Random House’s Everyman’s Library) that are affordable and must be economical for the publishers as well. These cloth cases and sewn bindings make the books much more durable as well as aesthetically pleasing.

The question that I may want to work towards would be round the changes in the materials used for binding and mass production changed in relation to mass literacy and demand for books. Can texts that are bound with higher quality materials automatically be viewed as being of more importance than texts bound with lesser materials?

That’s a very brief overview of an interest that I have. Perhaps with more thought I can actually turn it into a proper question.

 

Cheers.

Ben S.

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“…he will blend in. Disappear…”

That’s right, I titled my blog a quote from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. What? It fits I swear.

Ok, well perhaps for a perverted sense of “traditional” field work. When Indiana is referring to the supposed skills of Marcus Brody as an ethnographic researcher, he was alluding to the idea that Marcus would be invisible in the crowd as a professional who sought to study a culture without interfering in it. In this example, as with many other examples, the field is a physical space where people interact and talks, share meals, and generally physically help or conflict with each other. But How does this translate into the digital world.

There are several ways that, as researchers, we interact with digital communities to find out more about their norms and their needs. One of the most interesting ways is to become a part of the society, or at least a trusted outsider. This is the type of ethnography that Parmy Olsen conducted when she wrote We are Anonymous. She was able to get to know the group she was studying, but was never able to physically see any of the members due to the nature of the group. Another really interesting case study, although it might not be ethnographic (take a look and let me know what you think), involves studying responses to epidemics and epidemiology in general through programming mistakes made in World of Warcraft. The wiki article is actually quite interesting and involves studies in both epidemiology and terrorism.

So the study of digital environments and the way that real people use those environments can have some very interesting real world complications. Both case need to take into account that these environments involve real people communicating in a real time. This means that there are terms of service and privacy concerns that limit the access by external researchers to the data. The ways in which the ethnographer will gain access to this information will vary and there are extreme ethical issues tied to them because the subjects of the research may never actually meet the researcher, leading to misrepresentation and miss-communication between the parties involved.

Is it possible to ethically participate in an online community that you intend to use as the basis of your research?

I don’t know what the answer to this one is yet, but I am very interested in looking into it.

Cheers.

Ben S.

Olson, P. (2012). We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency. New York: Little, Brown and Co.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrupted_Blood_incident

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by | October 23, 2013 · 9:25 am

Conversations through writing

I have come to understand writing as an extension of a conversation. Good writing should not be a burden to the reader.  When a writer is able to take a complex issue and explain it in a way that the reader is able to clearly understand the point and its examples, well, the writer has done a good job. Here is the kicker, good writing does not necessarily need to be easy writing.

Whatever the author is trying to get across should come naturally, but that in no way means that the author needs to sacrifice style or grammar. Conversations would be hardly worth the effort if all conversations consisted only of Orwellian “newspeak” (I am very glad for his rule to break rules). To this end I believe that authors such as O’Brien, Orwell, Tolkien, Joyce, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Bulgakov are all able to write (granted fictional stories) in fairly complex language but have their meaning and intention develop naturally to their audience. Put plainly, they make up the best examples of writing that I have had the chance to read.

This is all to say that the best academic writing I have ever read does not feel like academic writing. It presents the facts in a way that makes them easily recognizable and digestible. It is also a writing style that interacts with other authors as though they are having a conversation, or formulating arguments based upon older conversations, incorporating all the necessary information into the body of the text. I also prefer it when the author is able to maintain a minimal number of voices in the overall work (being that they are able to engage with other authors in a way that does not distort the flow of the work).

 

I do believe that is all for now.

 

Cheers.

Ben S.

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Research Ethics and information issues

When I begin to consider the research interest that I have been developing here I realize that it have everything to do with ethics.

I am looking at ways to take information that individuals or groups create online and preserve it for posterity. Many of these records are created by systems that users assume will protect them with a veil of anonymity (one group going so far as to call themselves Anonymous ), these same users go on to create, inspire, or join groups and movements that have had some serious and global consequences in recent years (Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring are just two of many). In some instances these groups/movements succeeded in bringing change, but even as the victor their actions have earned them grief. How can we blame these people for wanting to take down a blog, or delete a twitter account that could have been used in a legal battle against them?

But what if they are not actively taking down the material? What if, now that they have succeeded in their mission, the necessary supports to sustain a website fade away and eventually it is the hosting provider who takes a site down? In this instance would it be ethical for us to step in and preserve the site?

Then again, if most history survives by accident, do we not have an obligation to the future to try to actively preserve it?

 

Ben S

I did not really quote from any of this but I randomly remembered a couple of things and they led me to these while I was writing this post.

n.d. 2011 Egytian Revolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_Revolution.

n.d. 2013 Egyptian coup detat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Egyptian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat.

Byrne, Janet. 20012. The Occupy Handbook. New York: Back Bay Books.

Kelly, Brian. 2012. “Investing in a Centralized Cybersecurtiy Infastructure: Why ‘Hacktivism’ can and should influence cybersecurity reform.” Boston University Law Review 92 (5): 1663-1710.

Olson, Parmy. 2012. We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonyous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency. New York: Little, Brown and Co.

 

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