Thursday, October 21, 2004

We've made it through the busiest part of our term now--the first few weeks of October. I've been teaching some fun research classes (graduate film courses! freshman studying anthropology and folklore!), helping students on some fun research topics (apes in literature, circa 1700-1900!), training our own student employees, working the reference desk (I just had a student who needed to print something open up his wallet, pluck out his last couple of bills, and say to me hopefully, "I've got two bucks...?"), meeting, writing, planning for a course in winter term, indexing for the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, proposing presentations for regional conferences, and worrying about the upcoming election. Life is full.

But in the continuing quest for relevant content--and I still feel like I haven't figured out what, exactly, should go into this blog--I offer a couple of links from my Kinja. AKA, my real-time lifeline to the literary world.

Apparently, back-of-the-book indexes are on the way out. I hate to be peevish and all hair-in-a-bun about it, but this strikes me as bad news. We're already living in an anti-intellectual society, where humanists and scholars are forced constantly to defend their work. Now we want to take indexes away? How's anyone supposed to skim a book without an index? There's also the whole ugly outsourcing issue, where the work of indexing is shipped out to workers in developing countries, who are paid inhuman wages for their labor. Online indexes aren't innocent here either--I'm not sure about this, so don't sue me, but I hear rumours that Early English Books Online, which is priced at around $80,000 for an institution of our size, is using offshore labor to key in its texts. Delightful.

I just ran across a reference to this book: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued A Million Yiddish Books. It restores my faith in the grassroots. Gey gezunterheyt, Aaron Lansky!

There's a site that relates the key plot twists and the ends of popular books, as sent in by readers: I'm amused until I notice that they cover Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I'm currently reading. Which is 700+ pages long. Which I'm about 200 pages into. Which I'm enjoying immensely. Which I don't want to spoil for myself. Oh, crud.

And finally, Neal Stephenson talks to Slashdot about how open access models and the Creative Commons might affect novelists. Interesting stuff.

Namaste, and back to ABELL indexing.


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