hired intellectual hands

Here’s a new twist on IP from Inside Higher Ed :: University as Author? (via TechRhet). The IP debate has been going on for quite a while, and it really heats up when it deals with who owns distance ed course materials: individual author or university? But the debate looks like it’s making another turn, just in time for the academic new year.

The Kansas Supreme Court will soon decide whether the Kansas Board of Regents has to negotiate its intellectual property policy in the future, or whether it can simply hand down a decree – even one that asserts ownership of all faculty work.

If the court upholds the decision of a lower court, public institutions in Kansas will have the right to claim ownership of any faculty work, including books. In the current policy, faculty members keep their book rights, and revenue sharing is built in for technology copyrights, but, “if [the board] can unilaterally enact a policy, then tomorrow they could turn around and say ‘we own it, we get all the royalties,’” said John Mazurek, a lawyer representing the Kansas National Education Association.

Here’s the interesting twist:

In making the decision, the court treated faculty work as “work for hire,” under federal copyright law. Much the way Microsoft owns computer codes written by its employees, the court classified scholarly work as within the scope of employment of a faculty member, and thus granted ownership to the institution.

It’s not just book rights, code, and patents. If the law were applied in Minnesota, it might mean that MnSCU Board of Regents would own my curricular materials, my notes, lectures – and might be free to re-work and re-purpose them at will.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

But I am listening to 107.8 Radio Jackie – The Sound of South West London.


charlie meets the magus

Warning: spoiler coming.

We saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Sunday (an enaged 3:30 afternoon crowd: average age about 15 years – so they laughed at the jokes and applauded at the end). This version (with some reworking from the book, apparently) brings out Wonka as a magus, pulls the corporate greed fable forward, and holds on to the capitalist contradictions that keep the film a fable. This version expands Wonka’s childhood (teeth, braces, over-bearing professional father. Wonka’s not evil; he just had an oppressive upbringing), and brings out his corporate nastiness (closing the factory owing to an act of corporate betrayal and throwing workers [including one of Charlie’s grandfathers] into poverty, the imperialism in hiring aboriginal Oompa Loompas to replace the local workers – a collection of clones who will work for food) on the way to coming to his own understanding of his actions. “Redemption” is too strong a word: Wonka’s final change is a personal acceptance of his father rather than reinstating of the workers, and Charlie promises only to become a corporate heir of Wonka, to continue Wonka’s direction. That may be compassionate, but it’s hardly redeeming.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the final moment of pulling back to reveal the meta-narrative construction (coating the entire scene with icing sugar!) for a moment (a Burton addition, no doubt), but it’s a nice grace note on the story-as-fable. The twist is in who’s telling the tale, and in who’s service.

The film reviews have comments and notes on Depp, Bonham Carter, Burton, effects, directing, and the musical numbers. The film is well worth seeing twice for the acting, direction, cinematography, and allegory. You won’t find much about the fable in the reviews. This is supposed to be a good time film (chocolate covered in icing sugar), and so we’re supposed to ignore the mind behind the curtain. That’s part of the fable, part of the joke for Wonka. Play along.

And a bonus random irony: Both Dahl’s of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Wikipedia entry) and John Fowles’s The Magus (a synopsis) are on listed on, The Big Read. If I were teaching contemporary Brit Lit this year, both books would be on the reading list – as would the Burton film. It’s common knowledge that the film version of The Magus was the worst film ever made.

General Wikis

peanut butter wiki and blogger

I know there are other subscription wiki services out there, but this one looks like it might move wikis into the mainstream: PeanutButterWiki. The creators of the service have stripped wiki down to its bones, which makes it easy to start and maintain a wiki. Because the wikis are password protected, there might be some tension between The Wiki Way and pbwikis. But wiki admins can address that barrier by making their wiikis’ password public.

This is going to be another interesting site to watch over the next year.

And given this week’s arrests in Notting Hill, I’m listening to Too Much Pressure from the album “Just Can’t Get Enough” by The Selecter.

Technorati Tags:

General Wikis

wiki college

Here’s one to keep an eye on to see how it develops:

London’s Ravensbourne College is creating a new program called the School of Computing for the Creative Industries. The whole of the coursewear is Creative Commons licensed and the school itself is organized via a wiki. via Boing Boing

So, here’s the wiki, and an overview of the project. This might be a significant move of wikis into mainstream higher ed. It shows that wikis can be used to organize and maintain large, complex educational projects. And it gives credence to using a wiki for teaching and learning (which I’ve been pushing for a while), giving D2L and its ilk a run. The philosophy of the college – shown in its use of the wiki and CC licensing – is creativity and education driven by openness.

We recognise that the creative professional of the future – the new creative – has a distinctive skill-set and an easy relationship with technology. The new creative is a connected citizen, whose passions and campaigns, ideas and innovations appear first on their blog. The new creative uses the internet as an inspirational resource, drawing on that vast, interconnected meme-pool, but returning far more to it than s/he ever withdraws. Fundamentally, the new creative understands that s/he is defined by the impact and credibility of their online presence.

Like the new learner, so the new university.

Listening to You Will You Won’t from the album “Who Killed The Zutons” by The Zutons

General oblique visual text box

It’s visual but not random. Size has meaning. The page illustrates (or illuminates?) what users are tagging at the moment using text size to indicate popularity.

As an added benefit, the page creates a random noun generator. Take any two or three words in sequence to create a compound that we pretty readily assign meaning to:

  • freeware productivity inspiration
  • language images
  • wireless ebooks
  • stock illustration weblogs
  • cms library forum

Related (loosely, by the kind of box logic that engages) is Eno’s Oblique Strategies.

Listening to Chicago from the album “Illinois” by Sufjan Stevens.
box logic


again in London

Annie Mole and confederates have some of the best immediate reactions. And this from Leslie (of Hackney Proper):

I want to know what they’ve got against Hackney? The number 26, another local bus. I was heading to the tube at Highbury & Islington when the police stopped us and told us that bombs had gone off. Decided to walk home – it’s difficult to get on a bus at times like these. Feet throbbing as was wearing cruel shoes – so that’s really my only injury, sore feet.

Well, for a start, Hackney is nearly unreachable by tube.

Repeat to Fade from the album “The Debt Collection” by The Shortwave Set

General Wikis

chronicle article on wikis

In the Chronicle article that mentioned Mark Phillipson’s use of wikis in teaching lit, Brock Read gave my work a nice word, too. An extract –

Wiki writing, according to Mr. Phillipson, is “a different kind of skill” than traditional long-form essay composition.

Mr. Morgan, of Bemidji State, says that is true. But he argues the wikis can play a prominent role in teaching the finer points of traditional composition, too.

Mr. Morgan has been using wikis in class since 2001, when he happened upon one such site and “saw an immediate connection with teaching freshman composition.” In that course — and in a course called “Weblogs and Wikis,” which made its debut the following year — he has encouraged students to adopt the technology for some surprisingly ambitious writing projects. (In “Weblogs and Wikis,” one student wrote a wiki novel, which he continually edited online, while another used the technology to help her mother complete an autobiography.)

Writers who understand the technology, Mr. Morgan argues, can use wikis to look at their craft in a new way. Traditionally, writers complete a draft or two, proofread their work, revise it, and consider it finished. But wiki writers, Mr. Morgan says, are more likely to use a process he calls “refactoring”: posting shards of text, spinning them off into larger pieces, reworking material constantly instead of doing so at set points during the writing process.

“On a wiki, the writing space is just a browser window,” Mr. Morgan says. “Students see it as pretty plastic, and they’re less apprehensive about throwing things out or reorganizing themselves than when they’re using Microsoft Word.”

Romantic Poetry Meets 21st-Century Technology (by subscription).

That’s nice. Made my day. Here’s the obligatory
link to the Weblogs and Wikis course mentioned in the article.


romantic audience project: wiki

This work, Romantic Audience Project, by students in a lit course taught by Mark Phillipson at Bowdoin College, stands out as exemplary in establishing a scholarly project on a wiki for a course. It’s what wikis are for, in part. via Chronicle of Higher Ed, subscription.


post-midsummer reading

Update on summer reading:

  • Kress, Literacy in the New Media Age.
  • McCloud, Understanding Comics
  • Analyzing Prose, Lanham – for ENGL 6700
  • Shuster, Breaking the Rules – for ENGL 6500
  • Patrick Allett, I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student
  • more from Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World, Handa

And listening to Dance Me In from the album “The Repulsion Box” by Sons And Daughters.


on thursday in london

We heard about the bombs at 4:00 am local time when Radio 4 reported “a significant event” in Tavistock Square. We turned on the television, looking for BBC World, found something on CNN, and started combing the the web for information. Annie Mole started blogging early, and the BBC site was running some live video, but information from everywhere was sketchy until late in the day.

The bomb sites in west london are so ordinary, so pedestrian, and that makes the whole affair scary. Edgware Rd station (webcam of the flyover) is a 10 minute walk from where we lived in Maida Vale. It’s two stops from our flat (Warwick Ave), and about as plain and quiet as they come. DItto the Russell Square station: it’s not a central station like Oxford Circus or Charing Cross. Not a station you’d take note of so much as pass through.

Tavistock Square and Russell Square, Bloomsbury, are non-descript green spaces I used to walk through on the way to the Brit, but of no particular interest (a panaramic photo, pic of the tube station. (It sounded odd when it was reported that a bus had been bombed in Tavistock Square: busses don’t run in the square. Later, I found out that the bus had been diverted from its route by the Kings Cross – Russell Square explosion.)

The first year I lived in London, two bombs went off. One in the underground car park of the Tottenham Court Road YMCA early in the morning; we heard it in Maida Vale. The other was the assassination of Airey Neeve in March, 1979, at the Houses of Parliament. I was on a bicycle on Hampstead Heath at the time.

It’s the sudden imposition of violence in the routine, mundane places that’s most frightening, the sense that it happened where you used to be.

We have a friend in Hackney, Leslie, who we emailed. On Wednesday evening, she was on the bus that was bombed (the #30 Marble Arch to Hackney). She was shook up, but safe at home.

Annie reconnoitered on Friday, and Neil visited some of the sites on Saturday.

Listening to Christopher Marlowe from the podcast “In Our Time” by BBC Radio 4