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Weekend Reading: Summer Camp Edition

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What with all the news from Wisconsin and North Carolina and, let’s face it, the whole world of public higher education, it can seem legitimately overwhelming/despairing. One concrete thing to do would be to improve one’s faculty activism skills, and the best place to do that is the AAUP’s Summer Institute. It’s a three-day boot-camp in organizing one’s colleagues, talking to the media, pressuring senior administrators, and much else. It’s also a good way to keep up with news about the legal context for academic labor, and more. It’s definitely worth a look … . assuming your summer’s not planned out. (Then again, Denver!)

On to the links!

  • If you’re only going to read one interview about genre this weekend, why not make it Neil Gaiman’s with Kazuo Ishiguro? I don’t have a problem, necessarily, about reading for improvement. I often choose a book because I think I’m going to enjoy it, but I think also it’s going to improve me in some sense. But when you ask yourself, “Is this going to improve me?” what are you really asking? I think I probably do turn to books for some sort of spiritual and intellectual nourishment: I think I’m going to learn something about the world, about people. But if by “improving”, we mean it would help me go up the class ladder, then it’s not what reading and writing should be about. Books are serving the same function as certain brands of cars or jewellery, in just denoting social position.
  • I think we hit peak “curation” as a buzzword about 15 months or so ago, but Nehal El-Hadi’s post on “Radical Curation: Taking Care of Black Women’s Narratives” will give you a reason to take the word seriously again: Although many people online apply the term curation to what can more accurately be called branding, the Internet has also provided a platform for radical curation. Curation, in collecting and organising artworks or objects, especially as housed in state-sanctioned/supported institutions of culture, is powerful in the creation and dissemination of narratives. These narratives usually promote already-existing dominant narratives, which problematize, drown out, reify or make invisible alternate narratives. Radical curation is the use of curatorial practices to present, with care, a themed collection of art(efacts) that represent oft-unheard and sometimes disruptive chronicles or groups.
  • On the university as [#GlobalBrand](http://theconversation.com/is-todays-university-the-new-multinational-corporation–40681): Historically, colleges and universities have been viewed as anchor institutions that are tightly linked to their local communities and often are significant engines of economic development. But we are now seeing campuses move locations in their effort to find “best deals” in terms of more regulator flexibility or government subsidies.
  • The University of Guelph has trademarked the phrase Open Education, and has, on at least one occasion, tried to enforce it, which is … curious. Brian Lamb has a terrific set of questions that should be addressed: Looking at the University of Guelph’s Open Learning and Educational Support website, I could find no mention of open educational resources, open textbooks, open pedagogies, open source, open access, open licensing, etc… So perhaps you were unaware of the existence of an “open education” community, one that frequently uses “open ed” as an abbreviation, or for functions such as URLs, or as a Twitter hashtag. Were you indeed unaware that “open ed” was a thing? If so, when did you become aware of it?
  • Ted Underwood writes up “Seven Ways Humanists Are Using Computers to Understand Text”: But framing new research opportunities as a specifically humanistic movement called “DH” has the downside of obscuring a bigger picture. Computational methods are transforming the social and natural sciences as much as the humanities, and they’re doing so partly by creating new conversations between disciplines. One of the main ways computers are changing the textual humanities is by mediating new connections to social science. The statistical models that help sociologists understand social stratification and social change haven’t in the past contributed much to the humanities, because it’s been difficult to connect quantitative models to the richer, looser sort of evidence provided by written documents. But that barrier is dissolving.

If you are a rock fan of a certain age, then you are probably at least somewhat excited about this reunion:

And in a bonus video, in anticipation of Jurassic World next week, here’s an actual scientist, Beth Shapiro, explaining “How to Clone a Mammoth”.

Photo “Human Brain: Please do not pick up or shake” by Flickr user Steve and Shanon Lawson / Creative Commons licensed BY–2.0

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