Archive for: August, 2012

Friday Fun: Orientation-a-palooza!

Aug 31 2012 Published by under friday fun

Yeah, it's frosh orientation here at York U starting today so I thought I'd celebrate that with links to a bunch of posts from my all-time favourite source of higher education satire, The Cronk of Higher Ed!

International Helium Shortage Leads to Massive Orientation Layoffs

“After we realized how much time our orientation leaders spent blowing up and delivering balloons, we realized we’d have to cut 40 percent of our staff,” said Lisa Brandberg, assistant director of transition programs at Cal State Yorba-Linda. “We tried to create alternate assignments, like sidewalk chalking or poster papering, but we found those jobs stupid or unsustainable.”

Student Attends 27 Orientations, Enrolls at 3 Universities

“I’ve paid deposits at my top three choices to give myself a more appropriate amount of time to make such an important decision,” said Sungard. “MIT has the best cafeteria food, Wellesley has a rare chapter of the Not Quite Gay But Super Ally Club and Ole Miss has an incredible football team.”

University Inaugurates Pre-Orientation Orientation

His colleague Mike Frunze concurred. “Once we get rid of all that antiquated subject matter diddly-poo and all those itty-bitty personalities,” he said, “we’ll have success, achievement, collaboration and innovation, with plenty of money left over.” He took a swig of lemonade. “Ah, what a world that will be.”

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Around the Web: An academic ghostwriter comes clean, Mechanical MOOCs and more

Aug 30 2012 Published by under around the web

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An Open Access thought experiment

Imagine a scenario where suddenly over night all toll access publishing suddenly converts to Open Access. You go to bed and your average academic library spends millions of dollars on serials. You wake up, and the subscription bill is zero.

Now, that doesn't mean that suddenly scholarly publishing doesn't cost anything to support. It just means that the money to support that publishing is coming from somewhere other than library budgets. I would generally assume that an entirely open access publishing ecosystem would be significantly less expensive overall than the current mixed publishing ecosystem with all the profit, duplication and waste built in but that's not really important for the purposes of this thought experiment. I'm assuming that one day we all wake up and library budgets have been completely freed of the need to support scholarly journal publishing, that somehow somebody else picks up the institutional support and/or author fees and/or funder support and/or whatever else comes under OA business models.

(Alternatively, we could imagine something like the proposed arXiv business model somehow becoming universal. While not completely wiping out library serials budgets, this would represent a huge savings.)

What I'm interested in is asking, "What you would spend all that money on?"

How much would you reinvest in other library personnel, collections, spaces or services? What kinds of library personnel, collections, spaces or services would you invest in?

How much would you return to the central institutional budget? And what would you do with that money?

I imagine different constituencies would have different ideas of what we could spend that money on, and I'd certainly like to hear ideas from some of the following:

  • Librarians of all stripes
  • Library administrators
  • Faculty
  • University administrators
  • General public

And of course, any other constituency that cares to chime in.

Let's all have at it in the comments!

(Two main inspirations for this post: first of all, I'm reading Peter Suber's excellent new book, Open Access and it's really got me thinking deeply about the implications of OA. Secondly, I've had this Scholarly Kitchen post concerned with the "diminution of science librarians" on my mind since it came out and have been searching for a way to respond. I may still devote a separate post to it.)

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2011 Lane Anderson Award Shortlist: Celebrating the Best Science Writing in Canada

Aug 28 2012 Published by under best science books 2011, Canada, science books

I saw an article in the Quill and Quire announcing the shortlist for the Lane Anderson Award, celebrating the best in Canadian science writing.

The Lane Anderson Award honours the very best science writing in Canada today, both in the adult and young-reader categories. Each award will be determined on the relevance of its content to the importance of science in today’s world, and the author’s ability to connect the topic to the interests of the general trade reader.”

The annual Lane Anderson Award honours two jury-selected books, in the categories of adult and young-reader, published in the field of science, and written by a Canadian.

The winner in each category will receive $10,000. Two three-person jury panels drawn from the Canadian academic, publishing, creative and institutional fields will review submissions in the two categories. The jury will be announced with the winners at an event in Toronto in mid September.

And here is this year's shortlist:


Young Adults

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Around the Web: Let's Talk about Academic Integrity, Mining the astronomical literature and more

Aug 25 2012 Published by under around the web

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Friday Fun: J.R.R. Tolkien on George R.R. Martin

Aug 24 2012 Published by under friday fun, science fiction

George R.R. Martin is the new J.R.R. Tolkien, right?

Great big, fantasy series with large casts of characters, epic battles between good and evil?

Maybe, maybe not. Tolkien certainly create a more black and white universe compared to Martin's infinite shades of gray. On the other hand, Tolkien found a very nice level of actual productivity. He basically wrote one amazing thing and actually finished it. Sure, there were a few other peripheral works that came out during his lifetime, but Lord of the Rings is it. He also wrote in an era when there was no expectation of ever becoming blindingly, insanely rich creating such a universe. And hence, very few temptations to the dark side of endless drivel, never completed in a single human lifetime.

So what would Tolkein have thought of the Song of Ice and Fire series?

Raw Book Reviews by the Restlessly Deceased: J.R.R. Tolkein on George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones? A game indeed. A foul and sniveling one, bereft of winners, the sole purview of losers, to be played by pudgy children, the spawn of editors and lawyers alike. Darkness and daylight, vagueness and vividness of perception, ease and action, horror and euphoria. These are the elementary contradictions of superior prose. To wit: nowhere are these basic tensions to be found within the shoddy sentence-making and cheap simile that marks the Martin oeuvre.

Little wonder (after wading through the Mordor-ian depths of this endless and execrable tome) that some have suggested (as well they might) that there is indeed a distinction to be made (if not a gaping lava-bottomed chasm to be forded) between what learned men call “high fantasy” and what dimwitted sausage-sniffers refer to as “merely genre.” And this, my friends, I can tell you with no compunction and even less regret, is indeed the lowest, most gormless “genre” I have ever had the displeasure to read. Or should I say cursorily skim and, at long last, fail to finish?

It's really very good -- funny, profane and irreverent. You should read the whole thing.

(And yes, I'm a big fan of both but I frankly haven't been able to make myself read the most recent Martin book, Dancing Dragons or whatever.)

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Around the Web: Integrating integrity, Connecting with new faculty, Learning to love summer reading and more

Aug 21 2012 Published by under around the web

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Around the Web: More on open data, textmining the literature and The Panton Principles

My colleagues and I are taking our Creative Commons/Panton Principles presentation on the road to another library conference this winter. As a result, I'm still compiling more references on the topic so I thought I share what I've found recently with all of you.

Of course, suggestions for more resources are always welcome in the comments.

Some more articles at BioMed Central.

(Yes, blogging has been pathetic of late. I hope to have a decent post up this week and maybe a return to more normal form in the fall.)

Update 2013.01.30: Some followup posts with more resources and presentations I've done here, here, here and here.

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Friday Fun: You Are Not a Social Media Jedi, Ninja, Sherpa, or Guru

Aug 17 2012 Published by under friday fun, social media

Personally, I aspire to being a Social Media Smurf.

Check out this amusing yet pointed post by Eric Stoller: You Are Not a Social Media Jedi, Ninja, Sherpa, or Guru.

A little taste:

They are everywhere. On Twitter profiles, blog bios, and Facebook pages across the social media sphere, inflated social media titles are rampant. People claiming to be experts with social media as they bask in the warm glow of 7 Twitter followers. Seriously, they are found in countless numbers on the web. Some people are even promoting themselves as Pinterest experts. That's almost as funny as the consultants who are sure that Google Plus is going to be "the next big thing." It's an epidemic of throwing stars, mountain climbing gear, and lightsabers.


Social Media Sherpa - According to, a Sherpa is "a member of a people of Tibetan stock living in the Nepalese Himalayas, who often serve as porters on mountain-climbing expeditions." Do you match those criteria? No…then you are most-definitely not a social media sherpa.

Social Media Jedi - It has to be said: Star Wars is science fiction…and no one has any midi-chlorians. Move along.

Social Media Champion - I wonder if people ever called themselves "fax machine champions?" While there are definitely people who champion social media at your campus, it's hard to take anyone serious who calls themselves a social media champion.

And the comments and links on the original post are terrific too!

And here's a few of my past social media mockery Friday Fun posts:

Mocking social media seems to have become an unhealthy obsession. Maybe I should stop tweeting and blogging before someone notices the irony?

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Around the Web: Breaking up with ebooks, Blogging in the classroom and more

Aug 15 2012 Published by under around the web

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