What We’re Reading: July 24, 2008 Edition

What exactly is “digital history”? We start off this post with a link to a vocabulary lesson at the Digital History Hacks blog. Then following this theme, the ACRLog looks at helping students with the “digital abundance” online, Nicholas Carr questions how the internet is changing the way we think, and The Economist notes a report that looks at the effects of more journals online. Also see the ALA’s “copyright slide-rule,” visit a heated discussion on retiring from academia, get up to date on a new bill aimed at the Smithsonian, take a look at integration in the military, and finally, discover the histories of ten ghost towns.

  • Towards a Computational History
    Over at Digital History Hacks, William J. Turkel offers a vocabulary lesson on what it means to do digital history (for now?).
  • Chasing Our Long Tails
    Barbara Fister at ACRLog calls on teachers to help steer their students through the rising seas of digital abundance.
  • Is Google Making Us Stupid?
    Nicholas Carr, at The Atlantic, ponders “what the internet is doing to our brains.”
  • Great minds think (too much) alike
    The Economist reports on the work of University of Chicago sociologist James A. Evans, who found after analyzing data from citation indexes that "as more journals become available online, fewer articles are being cited in the reference lists of the research papers published within them," and that the "articles that do get a mention tend to have been recently published themselves." The Economist’s report indicates that it was "not yet clear whether this change is for good or ill. Electronic searching means that no relevant paper is likely to go unread, but narrowing the definition of ’relevance’ risks reducing the cross-fertilisation of ideas that sometimes leads to big, unexpected advances.” The research paper ("Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship") appeared in the July 18, 2008, issue of Science, the magazine published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • American Library Association Unveils Slide Rule for Copyright Advice
    The Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog takes a look at the copyright advice “slide-rule” from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy.
  • A Moral Obligation to Retire?
    Inside Higher Ed sums up the comments from a philosophy blog on the very contentious question of “Should tenured faculty retire to make way for new PhDs?” and generates quite a response.
  • Bill Would End FOIA Shield for Smithsonian
    The Washington Post reports on a new bill, submitted by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), that would subject the Smithsonian to the Freedom of Information Act and Sunshine Act (which in the past it has been exempt from).
  • Historian Charts Six Decades of Racial Integration in U.S. Military
    In a Department of Defense press release, Conrad Crane, director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. surveys the integration of the American military.
  • 10 Most Amazing Ghost Towns
    Because history can be about things lost, as well as things remembered,
    it is worth noting a posting on the "10 Most Amazing Ghost Towns"

Contributors: David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Pillarisetti Sudhir, and Robert B. Townsend.

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