Weekend Reading: One-Star Lighthouse Edition

7864958264_9c1ebb736a_bIt’s been a busy week, and I have lots of reading for you. So here ’tis:

  • There’s been a very active conversation about Net Neutrality and higher education this week. I would recommend a few posts for those looking to learn more or join the conversation:
    1. This joint post from Adeline Koh and Siobhan Senier here at ProfHacker, “Why Net Neutrality Matters to Higher Ed,” includes several relevant links, a nice breakdown of the issues at stake in this debate, and a few concrete ways to get involved.

      Net Neutrality is the principle that all Internet content should be treated equally. Current proposed changes by the FCC would allow Internet Service Providers like Comcast to charge content providers(say, Netflix or the DPLA) a premium for access to the fastest service. Why does this matter? Think about how quickly you lose interest if a website takes longer than usual to load. The New York Times reported that people will visit a website less often if it is slower than a close competitor by more than 250 milliseconds (a thousandth of a second).

    2. Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel will be hosting a discussion at Hybrid Pedagogy about “Permission, Openness, and Net Neutrality: a #digped Discussion.” That discussion will likely be finished by the time this runs, but it’s certain to be archived and worth perusing.

      Since boycotting the internet doesn’t seem like a very effective way to combat the imminent public beheading of net neutrality, Hybrid Pedagogy will be hosting a loud and proud (and a little bit outraged) #digped chat this Friday, May 2 at 12:00 PM Eastern time. Our goal is to discuss how the erosion of net neutrality affects us as educators, how it affects students, research, teaching, and how it could change the way we work on the web.

    3. Finally, the Association for Computers and the Humanities wrote and published an open letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in defense of Net Neutrality, signed by 33 presidents, chairs, founders, leaders, and editors of 27 digital humanities organizations, platforms, and publications.

      We write as leaders of 27 major professional societies, boards, committees, and publications, representing a broad and international community of scholars and students, information professionals, artists, and technologists working in the digital humanities, digital media, and aligned fields.

      On behalf of the communities we serve, we urgently ask that you lead the FCC in protecting the fundamental character of the open, nondiscriminatory, creative, and competitive Internet. To do this, the FCC must reclassify broadband service as “common carrier” telecommunications in the United States.

  • At the Atlantic, Elizabeth Segran’s “The Adjunct Revolt: How Poor Professors are Fighting Back” is a nice summary of the growing conversation around contingent labor in the academy, focused particularly on the turn toward unionization to address labor inequality.

    Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, says that tackling the adjunct crisis requires the support of middle administrators.* Through her work with the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, a collective of higher education associations that addresses deteriorating faculty working conditions, Feal and others seek to educate administrators, legislators and boards of trustees about working conditions on campuses. “We need to show them that adjunctification is a problem and not a solution,” Feal told me. “They need to choose not to be complicit in a system that abuses adjuncts.” She also argues that we must educate accreditors about how adjunctification lowers the quality of higher education by making it hard for adjuncts—who can be among the best teachers on campus—to engage with students effectively. If administrators are faced with the possibility of lower rankings because of the proportion of adjuncts on their faculty, Feal believes they will change their hiring practices. “Accreditors could change this game overnight,” Feal said.

  • Back to politics, this week several scholars testified before the US Senate Committee on Appropriations to defend public funding of humanities research. Worth reading are statements by Bethany Nowviskie and Matthew Kirschenbaum, which eloquently advocate for the value of humanities research in an increasingly STEM-focused system.

    Humanities researchers and other innovators—and the agencies and organizations that allow them to take intellectual risks and that help to launch their projects—require judicious and reliable investment of federal dollars. They in turn need the robust and unwavering support of the Senate Appropriations Committee. I thank you for the faith shown in me and in the larger digital humanities community by federal entities such as NEH, the IMLS, and the Library of Congress, and for all the opportunities your past investments in these offices have made possible.

    It is the nature of R&D to gamble—on good ideas and good people. Not every line of research results in immediate application, just as not every question asked is possible to answer. But we keep asking, and in the aggregate, federal investments in American innovation are a very good bet.

  • For some lighter reading, One-Star Book Reviews offers “Reviews of classic books, culled from the internet’s think tank.” In other words, the site reprints the written reviews that accompany 1-star ratings on works of classic literature. The result? Classic comedy.

    On Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse: “The irony is, I *love* lighthouses and travel to see them and love books and films set in them. Maybe my main issue with this book was just that it wasn’t lighthouse-y enough.”

This week’s video is “Guardians of History” (h/t Paul Fyfe for the suggestion) which explores the work of archivists working at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library.

This week’s super-bonus video (to make up for not posting one last week) is, frankly, a bit terrifying (h/t Bethany Nowviskie for this one), but comes from one of the earliest campaigns to preserve Net Neutrality and has a quirky charm. We’re the internet, indeed.

Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user archer 10.]

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