Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Kindling: Amazon.com axes the paper back version of NewLits3
A sign of the times, no doubt, but one I feel a bit disappointed about.
We are huge fans of amazon.com. As we've often commented, it bailed us out so many times after we moved to Mexico and needed a way to get books and other items we had trouble getting locally. And we have loved having our books available on Amazon. We've often been told how Amazon came through for courses using our books when university book stores were under-stocked. Within a day or two a copy can be had pretty well anywhere in North America. And the North American market happens to be the best market for books we write.
So after the new edition of New Literacies was published several weeks back I was looking to see when it popped up on Amazon.com. It was available for pre-order, and it was quickly available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca, as well as Amazon.de and Amazon.jp. But nothing showed on Amazon.com apart from the first and second editions of the book.
Then, last week, the Kindle edition showed up, and I started to wonder if Amazon.com was only going to cater to the e-reading public. This concern was pretty much borne out today when a friend and colleague said Amazon.com had cancelled her order and suggested she get the Kindle edition.
Apart from thinking they are somewhat over-rated, I have nothing against tablets -- I own one and, to be sure, we have ordered a Kindle Fire. I even use the e-reader function when I'm on the run and don't want to have to carry books around. I'll happily enough read a novel and gloss a report on an e-reader. But when it comes to engaging with academic texts I prefer to have a hard copy version available -- preferably one I can annotate and stick post its on and so on: i.e., things that help me wrestle with arguments.
More than this, when I read academic books I read them they way I write them -- which always involves a lot of hard copy. For sure, there are periods when I can just sit at the keyboard and generate text. But very often there are points in the argument when I have to leave the screen and "work stuff through" away from the pixels. I don't think I'm alone in this.
It's not that I like the feel of a book in my hands, or the smell of them, or other such pleasures that are often mentioned. Rather, my ways of reading, just as with writing, are often abetted by paper and pen. I hugely admire anyone who can get all there is from a text straight off the screen, and who can annotate as they want on screen. But I have to say that when I am writing my mental conception of the audience is of people who will read somewhat the way I do, and who will want to worry away at passages here and there in ways I don't readily associate with purely on screen reading. I certainly don't want to legislate for how others read, and I am very happy for anything I write to be available in digital formats. That's great. But I like the option of hard copy as well -- with all due apologies to the trees.
Of course, if anyone wants a hard copy version of the book they can go to Barnes and Noble or order a copy through a local (university) book store. But that is not the same as also having the option available of one-click buying and waiting a day or so for the post.
In the wider scheme of things this is an over-indulgent concern, no doubt. But I guess that in the final analysis if I had thought the book would only be published in digital format I almost certainly would not have got down with Michele and written it. It is, of course, readily enough available as a paper back; just not on Amazon.com.
But Amazon.com is my favourite port of e-commerce call, and it just won't be the same if the paper version of a book we poured our guts into is not available there.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Historical images and mapsLooking for an interesting way to explore or write about history in your local area? History Pin might fit the bill--this service lets you post photos, videos and audio clips (I really like the potential of the latter feature for doing some local oral history collection!).
Sunday, October 23, 2011
job opening in literacy and special education in Michele's departmentMontclair State University currently has a position open for a literacy-special education specialist (no minimum rank has been attached to the opening) within the Department of Early childhood, Elementary, and Literacy Education (Michele's department, actually). The position is a:
Tenure-track position in a vibrant teacher education program with an innovative curriculum for a faculty member with expertise in Elementary Inclusion/Special Education and Literacy. Appointment includes teaching a range of undergraduate and graduate courses for elementary teacher candidates; mentoring/supervising teacher candidates in diverse and inclusive practicum settings; building strong partnerships with schools, school faculty, and communities; and contributing to the department with a strong vision and innovative programs. Position may also include serving as a faculty member in the Ed.D. program in Teacher Education and Teacher Development. Faculty members are expected to be active scholars; develop a significant body of refereed publications; advise students; engage in curriculum development; participate in department, college, and university committees; and teach both on and off campus.
The teacher preparation program at the elementary level was recently ranked 17th in the nation, and it's definitely an excellent place to work. For more on the job, click here. And keep in mind that this is your big chance to work with Michele *every* day... :D
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Airport literacy and the language of scan
So, I was in a large international airport recently, en route to a smaller regional airport. I had flown in the day before and had to overnight to get a connection. Michele was flying in and we were booked on the same flight to the regional city. I got to the airport after checking out of the hotel, a few hours before Michele was due to arrive.
At check in I asked what seats we’d been allocated and whether there was any chance of sitting together. The nice person on the counter was most friendly and helpful, going out of their way to get us to within an aisle distance and the prospect of doing a swap. I got my boarding pass and headed off to the gate. I went through the first check point, took a body scan, and then went through security, handing over my boarding pass at each point and showing my passport at the initial check.
Got to the gate, bought a coffee, logged on, and got a bit productive – as one does – waiting for Michele. She duly arrived and we had a light late lunch and headed to the gate. Michele, of course, had done the same routine I had – initial passport and boarding pass check, body scan and security. We had another coffee and the flight was duly called.
Michele hands over her boarding pass and the person letting us through says “12C”. I hand my boarding pass over and I hear “12C”.
“We can’t both have the same seat number,” I say, to no one in particular. So they check my boarding pass, at which point Michele’s jaw drops. ‘My’ boarding pass had her name on it, as did hers. The kind person at check in had accidentally printed the wrong boarding pass. Meanwhile – maybe they thought I was French or, alternatively ……… – I had made it through the body scan and security and a check point as Michele. Furthermore, so had she.
Maybe the icing on the cake was the happy chortle from the gate attendant as my boarding pass was taken and my correct name simply entered into the boarding data.
I wonder if Michele will get away with just the scan next time she passes through. I’m honing my French, just in case, but I also have the grace to blush just a little each time I think of impersonating Michele under X ray specs. I hasten to add that I feel secure on all relevant dimensions.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
The Men at Work plagiarism sick outcome: Screw Larrikin and screw the court
So, yesterday the Oz band Men at Work lost their final opportunity for appeal against the claim by the inappropriately-named Larrikin music publisher that the band had plagiarized a riff from a 1930s classic folk song called "Kookaburra". Larrikin acquired the rights to the song in 2000 and had no notion of any possible similarity between the chart topping song and the old folk song until a comment was made in a quiz show. That great supporter of establishment capitalism and so-called intellectual property, the Australian High Court, yesterday ruled against an appeal by Men at Work.
Michele hummed the Kookaburra song through to me and, as any number of sites on the web affirm, if you strain hard you can detect a bit of a similarity -- trifling. It would be like saying something who wrote a song containing in a sequence in the middle of that song the first 3 notes of Baa Baa Black Sheep had committed a plagiarism. Something that runs so deep in the popular culture of a society is bound to carry over into other productions -- as happened here with the injection of two bars into the recorded version of the song by the flutist. It is almost impossible to avoid such enculturation spilling over into what we produce as cultural beings in our own creativity. In any event, why would we not wish to celebrate aspects of our cultural heritage in our productions? How better can one pay respect to one's heritage?
I would like to think that cases like this could eventually provide the basis for smashing the contemporary opportunistic pecuniary-inspired fetish for intellectual property.
However, I am not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, all I can do is express my deepest wish for the music publisher and the wigged clowns who uphold such opportunistic grabs at the rewards for popular creative efforts by others ....
Disappear, you bastards!!!!
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
If you're in Mexico City on Thursday, 13 October....Then come along to the panel session "De la lengua escrita a las tecnologías de información y comunicación (TIC)" (From written language to information and communciation technologies). There are four panelists, as follows:
For more details, click here (pdf download)
The panel session is open to the public and starts at 17:00 in the main auditorium:
Auditorio de las instalaciones del Cinvestav-Sede Sur
Calz. de Tenorios 235.
Granjas Coapa. México D.F.
Tels. 54 83 28 00 exts. 1088 y 1089