Things have gotten worse. Presumably, if I have an accident, it’s my fault, despite the murderous quality of the roads.

UnKoch My Campus

I had known about the Koch’s influence on US academia for some time–and also on other parts of American culture–and had read Nancy MacLean’s riveting history of the issue, “Democracy in Chains” (Penguin, 2017). But only came across this site today. Worth looking at.

A plausibly relevant point: the claims of intellectual property. Tech/science publications work as claims of intellectual property, as stakes asserting ownership of the processes used or materials discovered. That’s not the case with most work done in the humanities, excluding some obvious disciplines.


Source: UnKoch My Campus

Study examines the research that never receives a citation

The article is interesting for several reasons. One, the data reflecting the surge in citation within the sciences is interesting. Second, the corresponding lack in the humanities highlights crucial and unfortunately misleading differences that, third, Marco Caracciolo, who is quoted, explains:

For instance, monographs and book chapters “carry a lot of weight in this area of the humanities” and it was much more likely that these — rather than any journal article that first expressed an idea — would be cited.

“The general expectation is that articles pave the way for monographs, which will contain the ‘final’ version of an argument — not the other way around,” said Caracciolo.

He added that the citation culture was also different for scholars on the more theoretical side of literary theory. Here, citation “works by signaling affiliation with a certain movement or theoretical trend.”

“Scholars position their approach not through a comprehensive literature review but by way of strategic citations — which may result in a relatively small number of highly influential publications (typically in book form) receiving the vast majority of citations,” Caracciolo said.

“This is quite different from what happens in the sciences, where the logic would appear to be more incremental,” he said, adding that his own citation rate could be higher because of his primary field of narrative theory having “a more science-like logic.”

As the article writer, Simon Baker, points out, however, that “Even with the caveats about the citation patterns seen in different disciplines, there is a danger that such figures could be seized upon by those wanting to question the value of publicly funded research.” That is, austerity-minded politicians, administrators, and others who fear or hate publicly-funded research and teaching (especially if it runs counter to their beliefs, be they religious or political), will look to the data, give it the yell of truth and then cut funding for those disciplines that fail the acid test, even though that test is wrong for the discipline.

Solutions, like having a greater awareness of the issues, only work if the cutters are willing to be schooled. Another, albeit only half-solution, which is sort of practiced in many British universities, I think, is to count publications, regardless of nature. These publications could be reviews, new, deep articles, or books. They are all counted. it’s not a good way to evaluate the quality of scholarship produced, but it does put the humanities’ scholar on a more even footing as the tech/science scholar, at least in counting publications for any academic or departmental purpose. A complication is that in the sciences, the rule is collaboration–to have many authors per paper, and yet more for important ones. That is not the case in most humanities.



Analysis suggests big differences among disciplines in the volume of scholarship that fails to garner a citation.

Source: Study examines the research that never receives a citation

Death Spiral?

Electricity Map | Live CO2 emissions of electricity consumption

Hm. Earlier effort to post this may not have succeeded. It’s an interesting map.

Electricity Map is a live visualization of where your electricity comes from and how much CO2 was emitted to produce it.

Source: Electricity Map | Live CO2 emissions of electricity consumption

Electricity, Mapped

Will Canada Elect a Tin-Pot Northern Trump? – The New York Times

How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz | Ars Technica

SXSW: NRK’s dedicated tech team employs “open source” tactics to fight trolling.

Source: How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz | Ars Technica

[Ksummit-discuss] [CORE TOPIC] GPL defense issues

Karen Sandler of the Software Conservancy raises an issue–actually a set of issues–that has galvanised more than the usually vocal in the free-software communities. Sandler raises it as an issue related to enforcement of license but I think it touches on far more than that. I find interesting a basic question and one that’s shadowed and conceptualised my own interventions from the get-go, back in the late 90s: How the GPL and related licenses on the copyleft have been “normalised” (as in, routinised, and treated less as the essential key to a kind of relationship to making than as an aspect of the commodity in question, emphasis commodity or product). Making free software a regular, routine part of life is hardly objectionable. Gelling over those differences that make it more than just another commodity is.


Source: [Ksummit-discuss] [CORE TOPIC] GPL defense issues

Feds expect provinces to ratify free trade deal next year, with booze in the mix

The lede focuses on interprovincial alcohol commerce but that’s probably the least interesting part of the article. The most interesting, if not the most newsworthy, is the point made by the minister regarding immigration and its economic benefits to the region:

“Immigration is an economic driver,” he said. “Frankly, immigration was looked on in a very different light by the previous government. There was a lot of fear-mongering around immigration. It held back innovation, I think it definitely had a negative impact in the past.”

Canada’s provinces and territories will ratify a free trade deal next year and the federal government is pushing hard to include an ambitious liberalization of alcohol laws in the agreement despite provincial intransigence, the country’s economic development minister says.

Source: Feds expect provinces to ratify free trade deal next year, with booze in the mix