unjapanologist: (internethygiene)
HuffPo brings a pile of bizarre with 50 Shades of Grey in Scientific Publication: How Digital Publishing Is Harming Science. A scholar called Douglas Fields argues against open access, mainly by attempting to paint it as a dastardly government takeover of science that will mean the end of rigorous research. I was a little disappointed that he didn't actually call open access communist.

The article is plenty strange and sad in and of itself; anyone who can write with a straight face that "A corporate/government financial alliance is replacing scholarly publication once organized and run by scientists and academics" has a very, very idealistic view of the sort of traditional academic publishing that open access is trying to revolutionize.

And then comes this comparison:

Similar changes are eroding literary publication as direct electronic publication by authors on the Internet has led to erotic and reportedly pornographic works like Fifty Shades of Grey and spinoffs sweeping bestsellers lists for months. The issue is not whether erotica or pornography is or should be popular; rather, one wonders what literary work might have filled those slots on the bestsellers lists if traditional mechanisms of editor-evaluated publication had been applied, which consider more than simply the potential popularity of a work in deciding what to publish.

One wonders indeed.

This man lives in a very strange reality. But I love, love, love the idea of equating open access with 50 Shades! It means that advocating for open publication of my research is just like polluting my pure academic environment with BDSM porn. I feel totally all right with conceptualizing my work in that way. Maybe I should make some mugs and t-shirts for other open access-loving fan studies people.
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Hello, world. I've been in China for the past couple of weeks, bothering [personal profile] jin_fenghuang and [profile] cadesama and doing a great deal of writing, reading, and eating. It was awesome.

I still need to finish that Comiket post I didn't have time to write before hopping on the plane to Changchun, so I'm not going to link to or blab about every interesting thing that was waiting for me on the internet when I got back to Kyoto. This piece by writer Aliette de Bodard struck a chord with me, though. On the prevalence of US tropes in storytelling is a bit ranty, as the author herself indicates, but several of the points she makes about the non-universality of US narrative tropes are things that I really needed a reminder of. Favourite bits:
Read more... )
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The reason why this talk delights me beyond anything I can express is rather long and convulted, so I've put it after the video. tl;dr version: It's Jurassic Park for real, and Jurassic Park pretty much made me.

Jack Horner: Building a dinosaur from a chicken (16min)

Summary from TED:

Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner has spent his career trying to reconstruct a dinosaur. He's found fossils with extraordinarily well-preserved blood vessels and soft tissues, but never intact DNA. So, in a new approach, he's taking living descendants of the dinosaur (chickens) and genetically engineering them to reactivate ancestral traits — including teeth, tails, and even hands — to make a "Chickenosaurus".
 
Video under the cut )
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For the Dutch-speaking among us: my two latest manga translations just got published, the second part of Das Kapital and Les Misérables. Previous issues in this series were the first part of Das Kapital and War and Peace.

I'm having huge fun working on this literary manga series, and nearly as much fun rolling my eyes at all those who lament that they deviate from "the originals" and that is why they're no good. Much as I love the story of War and Peace, the novel is centuries old and as good as illegible to most contemporary audiences. It just wasn't written with 21st-century readers in mind. This novel and other so-called great classics are no longer accessible to the vast majority of readers for whom they're supposed to form a literary canon.*
 
What makes these novels great and important and relevant isn't the exact words that were written hundreds of years ago by long-dead people. It's the content, the stories. Stories can live and need to live in all kinds of forms to stay relevant. You don't learn to appreciate the story of a classic by painfully slogging through a seemingly endless doorstop of a book full of archaic language and strangely-paced plots.There's plenty of legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at adaptations like these manga, but that doesn't make the function they fulfill any less important. They allow present-day readers to finally find out what's so great about these great classics, by making the stories fun to read again.
 
 
* Although one could question if they ever were accessible to all potential readers, or what the value of that literary canon is in the first place. That's a whole other post.
unjapanologist: (Default)
This deserves to be said again and again.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story (19min)

Description from TED's website:

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

 

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