We're celebrating University Press Week with a 37-press blog tour. Weclome to Day 2 of the tour and to the SUP blog. Today's topic is the Future of Scholarly Communication and we're kicking the mic over to Alan Harvey, our Director. Enjoy!
The erudite Alan
Harvey, Director of Stanford University Press, poses this question during my
job interview. To my ears, the question sounds nearly as chiding in his English
accent, asked in earnest, as it did when I asked it of myself a week ago, after
moving to Silicon Valley.
Here’s the context:
I’m applying for a job with the Press, which Alan describes as one of the few
remaining publishing houses in a state whose dot-com bubble gutted the industry
of much of its human capital before subsequently bursting. He points
something else out to me, something of which I am already acutely aware: I hail
from an unlikely but robust mini-mecca of indie publishing: the Twin Cities.
So, why would I—a newly minted English major—move to a valley so tech-oriented
that it takes its handle from the computer chip?
This is the usual
tension of tech versus text, is it not? The trope has been so frequently
deployed so as to be a cliché at this point. Journalists and Op-Ed columnists publicly
dissecting the utility of print culture at the dawn of a digital age would have
you believe that conventional books, academic dissertations, the humanities and
liberal arts studies are rendered obsolete in a world where binary code surpasses the alphabet as the most common way of transcribing our communications and nuance and
verbosity are sacrificed to the 140-character-limit caprices of Twitter.
But is all this
partisanship really necessary?
Ultimately both mediums—from
scholarly tomes to Apple iPhones—are geared to connect minds and generate
conversations. After four years at a liberal arts college something that left a
deep impression on me was how the ideas that percolate in the academic
mindshare have a way of guiding tomorrow’s daily reality. They have the power
to shape the way our political leaders think (Mearsheimer), recalibrate the way
we perceive our society, its subjects and its structures (de Beauvoir, Said),
and draw attention to emerging challenges, or alternately, to problems too long
Far from undermining these conversations, technology presents an unprecedented opportunity to add dynamism to academic discourse. Social media, for example, collapses traditional barriers to access (class, race, geography)—a trend aptly noted by this recent San Francisco Chronicle op-ed—making rapid dissemination of new ideas possible and broadening their purview by inviting people into the conversation who could never access it before.
This is why I wanted
to be a part of SUP and why I was excited about this new role in particular, a
role that embraces social media and its possibilities. I wanted to not only
take part in these conversations, but broaden them. (At least, that’s the
answer I wish I had been cogent enough to offer during my interview. As it was,
I parsed together a few emphatic statements about really liking books and left the interview exasperated with myself,
nerves jangling and fingers crossed.)
I’m thrilled to join
the press, where my role (appropriately) lies at the cross-section of
technology and publishing. In addition to handling digital distribution to University
Press Scholarship Online and tuning the Press’ online presence on the website, I’ll also be tweeting, blogging and facebooking on behalf of the
Press, our authors and the multitude of ideas with which they engage the world.
I hope you visit us on Facebook and Twitter and join in on our conversation.
Kalie Caetano is the
digital media specialist at Stanford University Press. Before coming to SUP she
interned for Minneapolis-based marketing agency, Fast Horse Inc. and the
nonprofit literary publisher, Milkweed Editions.
Can ordinary citizens really bring change to international politics? We may think this question applies only to current times when we talk of Gov 2.0 and governments outsourcing ideas from citizens on Twitter. As the nuclear disarmament campaign shows, grassroots movements have had an impact in previous decades as well.
Wittner's book includes many interesting quotations from world leaders that evidence just how excited international leaders initially were about the advent of the Bomb. Winston Churchill loved the bomb and saw it as a way to win wars and maintain international influence. Eisenhower viewed the bomb as a positive addition to the U.S. arsenal, saying "My administration looks on nuclear weapons as no different than a bullet." The general consensus among leaders was that bigger and better weapons lead to better defense and therefore a safer environment.
As Wittner goes on to explain, the public saw nuclear weapons in a different light. From the early 1970's to its height in the early 1980s, an anti-nuclear movement had people all over the world protesting the Bomb. As Marshall Poe himself reminisces, he never thought that his small protests really had a big impact. However, Wittner explains that the growing anti-nuclear campaign had a huge influence on world leaders' decisions, from small protests to gatherings of almost 1 million people. At the beginning of Ronald Reagan's term as president, he made clear that nuclear weapons were a positive addition to U.S. defense. But as time went on and as the disarmament campaign grew, the nation watched Reagan make a complete turn around. He began to consider the call for disarmament. Even leaders of other countries began to change the way they viewed nuclear weapons. After 1985, Nikolai Gorbachev said "new thinking" was needed. Gorbachev and Reagan met many times and were able to come to agreements for lessening the nuclear arsenals in their countries.
As leaders began to heed the requests of the public, people of the anti-nuclear movement became comfortable and complacent. The movement has since died down. Toward the late 1990's, the anti-nuclear movement became less prolific. As a result, nuclear weapons began to increase again. In 1996, a Republican Senate rejected a nuclear test ban treaty, and later, during George W. Bush administration, the President began to pursue the creation of new nuclear weapons. Free from the pressure of the nuclear disarmament campaign, the government is at liberty to pursue nuclear weapons -- but, as Wittner explains, the movement is reviving.
Wittner's book goes into a brief history of the advent of bomb and a more detailed history of the movement against it. Though the movement has had its ups and downs, Wittner is confident that it is resurging and as history shows, ordinary people can make a big difference.
Genie in the machine describes how the digital age is expanding the possibilities of human invention. He gives the example of the Oral B toothbrush as a product of software design. But there aren’t just toothbrushes in software production; Plotkin says there are many patents already granted to other products produced in part by software.
The problem is that the patent system that has suited our industrial society for 100’s of years is now becoming outdated and doesn’t compensate for our technological advances. The problem became apparent in the 1990’s when software produces fought for control over the market and thousands of patents were granted. Plotkin says that the patent system has to be revolutionized so that trivial patents are not granted, stifling real ingenuity. The author does think that this is a problem that deserves our immediate attention. With hope for the future, Robert Plotkin assures you that this groundbreaking technology will not replace human ingenuity, but rather augment it, enabling people to boost their inventive abilities to previously undreamed-of heights. Without talented individuals to communicate effectively with computers (or rub the lamp), the genie is useless. “One slip of the tongue and you may find yourself turned into a toad rather than bathed in riches,” he explains.
Stanford University Press is pleased to announce that you can now search the full text of our books via Google Book Search. We are currently still in the process of uploading and scanning our backlist, but there are already over a thousand Stanford titles in Google Book Search. When the project is completed, all of our books will be searchable electronically.
While browsing our site, look for a search box like the one below. This indicates that the book you are viewing is searchable.
You will also notice that after you search our website with our traditional search box (which includes title, subtitle, author, isbn, subject, and series categories), you will then have the opportunity to search across the text of all of our books.
We continue to offer tables of contents and chapter excerpts for selected books, and we are excited to make it easier for readers to discover content and find books most suited to their interests.