Daily Archives: June 28, 2009

keeping it cool in the information pool

Sadie (2)

Temps here in Houston have been consistently over a hundred degrees for the past four or five days.  As y0u can see, the only way to get any exercise at all is to take a swim, preferably at a dog park. 

In the meantime, I’ve been reading Ossian to stay cool:

“Evening is grey on the hills.  The north wind resounds through the woods.  White clouds rise on the sky: the thin-wavering snow descends.  The river howls afar, along its winding course.  Sad, by a hollow rock, the grey-hair’d Carryl sat.  Dry fern waves over his head; his seat is in an aged birch.  Clear to the roaring winds he lifts his voice of woe . . . . ”  (Fragments, ed. Gaskill, III, p. 10)

And here are a few stray thoughts from the previous week’s reading:

  • For those interested in information literacy in the context of classroom contextualizations, Carl over at Dead Voles had an interesting post about history education, and discussed Sam Wineburg’s work regarding the best practices for teaching historical thinking. From Wineburg’s perspective, the two major concepts to keep in view are “sourcing” and “corroboration,” and both of these have a lot of applicability for literature instruction, I’d argue.  I’ve been thinking about this material a lot as I’ve been setting up some newly tweaked information literacy/critical reading presentations for my annotated bibliography assignments in Swift and Literary Studies.
  • Not so recent, but still interesting: AcademHack’s Teaching Carnival, including Mark Sample’s great Annotated Bibliography assignment using Zotero.
  • Lisa Spiro (down the street and across the bayou at Rice) has a good, thorough post on “Examples of Collaborative Digital Humanities Projects,” which sketches out a series of examples of collaboration, along with their general purpose and orientations: “Facilitating communication and knowledge building,” “Sharing and Aggregating Content,” “Collaborative annotation, transcription, and knowledge production,” and so forth.  Bookmark it now, and explore it at leisure: you’ll be thinking about some of these possibilities in the future, I’ll bet. 
  • This may seem off-topic, but believe me it isn’t.  I’ve been fascinated this past week by the widespread outrage over the Washington Post’s not-so-surprising firing of their best journalist, Dan Froomkin after his recent run-ins with the marquee names on the op-ed page, and after his long-time jousting with his paper’s own White House reporters over their lame, he-said, she said style reporting.  As  a number of commentators have pointed out, the entire conflict came down to competing views over what Froomkin did, exactly: was he a mere “aggregator,” cutting and pasting other reporters’ original investigatory work, or a genuine reporter in his own right, finding stories that the high-profile folks kept ignoring?  And, of course, the issue boiled down to whether Froomkin was entitled to do “media criticism,” which would certainly include criticism of the WaPo’s own clueless handling of certain stories.  Others may disagree with me about this, but I think that any comparison between Froomkin’s carefully assembled account of the last eight or nine years (see his superb summary of the Bush years, in his final column), with the first-hand views of “pros” like Bob Woodward or (god help us) Dana Milbank, tells the whole story.   So at what point do we begin to discount the validity of this kind of first-hand account, if reporters themselves seem to lack the curiosity or courage to question what they are being told face-to-face?  What this tells me is that the real competition in journalism, and for all I know in scholarship as well, will not be about access to the best “official” information or sources, but in the uses one makes of the information, and in the ability to discover promising gaps in the “official” coverage.  Get to it, people.