A major figure in higher education has passed. William G. Bowen was president of Princeton, head of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and helped launch a variety of projects, including JSTOR, Artstor, and Ithaka Harbors. 2012 winner of the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal, Bowen also found time to write nineteen books, many influential, often on higher education.
Visual Literacy in the Age of Open Content by Allana Mayer [JSTOR]
We have similar stories all throughout history: the moment when a perception—whether a literal way of seeing or a figurative mode of thinking—is assaulted and fundamentally shifts, a non-reversible alteration, a displacement from one’s old ways. Western society has seen plenty of moments like these, moments where a perceptive or critical threshold has been crossed.
The mayor of Lewiston, Maine recently made headlines when he called for the state to publish the name and address of anyone receiving welfare benefits. The idea of publicly shaming people for receiving government assistance is not new. But when these stories do arise, we rarely stop to think about what we mean when we say someone is "on welfare." In 1983, Mimi Abramovitz tackled that question head-on in a paper provocatively titled "Everyone is on Welfare." Almost 20 years later, she updated the paper for the new millennium. (Also available on Researchgate). [more inside]
"What of those grammar rules that were entirely dreamt up in an age of moral prescriptivism, reflecting nothing of historical or literary usage, to encourage the poor English language to be more like an entirely different (and entirely dead) language, namely Latin? Wait, which rules are those? It seems pretty crazy but the popular grammar rules familiar to most of us may in fact be completely fake and have no basis in linguistic reality. The English language didn't change to make those rules obsolete, they were simply fictional from the start." || Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake, by Chi Luu.
Brian Knappenberger's The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is available to watch for free in its entirety thanks to the Internet Archive. [more inside]
The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz. The Boston Globe reviews over 7,000 pages of discovery documents in the Aaron Swartz case (previously): Most vividly, the e-mails underscore the dissonant instincts the university grappled with. There was the eagerness of some MIT employees to help investigators and prosecutors with the case, and then there was, by contrast, the glacial pace of the institution’s early reaction to the intruder’s provocation.... MIT never encouraged Swartz’s prosecution, and once told his prosecutor they had no interest in jail time. However, e-mails illustrate how MIT energetically assisted authorities in capturing him and gathering evidence — even prodding JSTOR to get answers for prosecutors more quickly — before a subpoena had been issued.... Yet if MIT eventually adopted a relatively hard line on Swartz, the university had also helped to make his misdeeds possible, the Globe review found. Numerous e-mails make it clear that the unusually easy access to the campus computer network, which Swartz took advantage of, had long been a concern to some of the university’s information technology staff.
Losing Aaron. "After his son was arrested for downloading files at MIT, Bob Swartz did everything in his power to save him. He couldn’t. Now he wants the institute to own up to its part in Aaron’s death." [Via]
The U.S. Secret Service has begun releasing their roughly 14,500 pages on Aaron Swartz in response to a FOIA lawsuit against the DHS by Kevin Poulsen (DHS filing, groklaw). Poulsen's FIOA was delayed by MIT and maybe JSTOR fighting against the release. [more inside]
The digital library JSTOR has announced its new Register & Read program, under which users unaffiliated with an institution can access "approximately 1,200 journals from more than 700 publishers, a subset of the content in JSTOR. This includes content from the first volume and issue published for these journals through a recent year (generally 3-5 years ago)." [more inside]
Aaron Swartz, web technologist, has committed suicide. First mentioned on Metafilter for his involvement in the standardization of RSS in 2001 as a ninth-grader, most of Swartz's 26 years were devoted to leaving a lasting impact on the web. Swartz co-founded Infogami, which merged with the internet aggregator Reddit, and also founded the Internet activist organization Demand Progress which fought against the SOPA/PIPA legislation. His framework for web servers, web.py, was first released in 2006 when Reddit switched from Lisp to Python and continues to be actively used and updated. In a 2008 attempt to make a public version of the contents of the PACER public court records database, Swartz angered government officials when they learned he had downloaded 20 million articles, which he subsequently made freely available. In 2011 he was indicted for data theft for downloading large amounts from the academic article repository JSTOR. Despite JSTOR's statement indicating "no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter," the US case continued with additional charges, to which Aaron pled innocent in September of 2012. [more inside]
The hard numbers behind scholarly publishing's gender gap - The Chronicle of Higher Education investigates the nature of gender disparity in science and humanities publishing, with the help of researcher Jennifer Jacquet in collaboration with Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington, whose Eigenfactor tool (previously) is used to map the intersection of gender and authorship in JSTOR articles from 1665 to 2011. [more inside]
The Open Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health mandates that NIH funded research is published to PubMed Central. This provides free online full text access to the resulting research. This policy has been very popular. As a result journal publishers have seen their business models threatened. As other government agencies consider similar policies, publishing industry lobbyists have worked to put an end to the practice.. (previously) [more inside]
The Royal Society, publishers of the world's oldest peer-reviewed scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions, has made their journal archive free to access. [more inside]
NY Times reports that Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit, co-author of the RSS 1.0 spec, founder of Demand Progress, former fellow at Harvard's Center for Ethics, and founder of theinfo.org, a site "for people with large data sets" was indicted today on charges of stealing a large data set from MIT: JSTOR, an archive of academic papers. He faces up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines. [more inside]