The Academic Careers Wiki, a web site dedicated to providing the latest news and gossip about job openings and the status of searches in all academic disciplines, was hacked by a malicious user sometime late last week. The user, sporting an IP address from the Midwestern United States, started deleting whole fields in the wiki database, almost as fast as users could restore them. This discussion thread provides a real-time commentary of the events as they went down.
We profiled the Academic Careers Wiki on AHA Today earlier this year, praising the site for “provid[ing] a space for the quick dissemination of information about history jobs in a still-tight market.” But we also worried about the spreading of false information to job candidates (sometimes deliberately by rivals for a position), and about the effectiveness of venting into cyberspace about bad search committee behavior when “reporting such conduct to the dean of the school (or to the AHA) might actually remedy the situation and prevent future occurrences.” We certainly didn’t expect that a malicious user might try to take the whole site down.
In this edition of “What We’re Reading,” we start off a look at two reports: the 2006 Survey of Earned Doctorates, and a study of social science PhDs five years later. You’ll also find an article on a recent copyright symposium, a legal fight over a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a new blogger joining the Brainstorm.
We start off this week with reactions to the National Endowment of the Arts report on the state of Americans’ reading habits. If these trends continue it may be a troubling signal for the country in general and the history profession specifically.
Then continue on to the other articles we’ve read this week, including a timely article on the history of turkey pardons, a historian’s exciting discovery of new pictures of Lincoln at Gettysburg, new developments at the Center for History and New Media, an oral historian reflecting on his own life, and finally a historian’s endorsement of the "Smallest Publishable Unit."
To Read or Not to Read – The NEA Report
A recent report from the National Endowment of the Arts offers worrisome findings about American’s declining interest and ability to read “lengthy, complex, abstract prose texts.” Are things as bad as they seem?
In the articles listed below we begin with yet another Wikipedia debate, but this one isn’t about what’s acceptable in student bibliographies. You’ll also find a link to the GAO report on the Smithsonian’s physical plant, which includes some worrying pictures. For political gossip lovers, check out Newsweek’s review of the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr’s diaries, which have been compiled into the book Journals: 1952-2000. In addition, there are links to a tale of public historians, suggestions on applying for tenure-track positions, accusations of elitism in history departments, and finally, some tips on how to preserve digital media.
Mills Kelly over at edwired wonders about the health of H-Net in the Web 2.0 era. Resorting to a little number crunching, he found that traffic on three out of four lists he surveyed dropped by from 10 to 77 percent over the past three years. Sadly, that seems to fit with my own experience on the lists I have subscribed to over the past 10 years or so.
Aside from level of traffic, Kelly also notes that the content has grown quite different over the past few years as well.
The AHA’s online calendar allows organizations and universities the opportunity to advertise meetings and seminars, research opportunities, awards & fellowships, internet resources, and exhibitions & interpretive resources. Submit an announcement today, through the online form.
Here are some of the latest postings on three sections of the AHA calendar:
Meetings and Seminars
- Call for Papers: 17th Annual Conference of the Texas Medieval Association
Abstracts of proposed panels or papers on any medieval topic are due by September 1, 2007 for the Texas Medieval Association annual conference on October 11-13, 2007, at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, Richard Pells (a historian at the University of Texas at Austin) charges, “The vast majority of American historians no longer regard American culture—whether high culture or mainstream popular culture—as an essential area of study.” It’s an interesting article, and the Chronicle reports that it is among the most e-mailed for the week, but I think it should be read with considerable caution.
His timeline for cultural history’s decline and fall—placing cultural history’s golden age in the 1960s, with the fall starting sometime in the 1980s—is sure to surprise anyone who has taken a historiography class in the past 15 years.
After a two year struggle, Bolivian historian Waskar Ari finally gained a visa to teach at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The history department at Nebraska led a vigorous effort to win the visa, even filing a lawsuit against the federal government on his behalf last March.
The department hired Ari in 2005, shortly after he earned his PhD from Georgetown University, but the Department of Homeland Security, which administers such visa applications, held up the application without explanation. The AHA actively supported Ari’s efforts, but the department at UNL merits special praise for their active and enthusiastic support for a future colleague.