Friday, May 18, 2012

How a Book is born (infographic)

Full story over at weldonowen

Raising money to free classic volume on Africa's oral literature

A campaign on is seeking to raise $7,500 to pay for a Creative Commons Attribution-only licensed edition of Oral Literature in Africa, an out-of-print classic on the subject that is widely sought by African libraries. Once the money is raised, they will produce the new edition and make it widely available.

First published in 1970 by Oxford University Press, this classic study has been hailed as 'the single most authoritative work on oral literature’. It traces the history of story-telling in Africa, and brings to life the diverse forms of creativity across the African continent. Author Ruth Finnegan is thought to have ‘almost single-handedly created the field of ethnography of language’ with this book, and it continues to be a go-to text for anyone studying African culture.

However, despite its enormous scope and popularity, Finnegan’s book is now out of print. It is particularly hard to find in Africa, where its original retail price was beyond the budget of most university libraries. The non-profit organization Open Book Publishers is endeavoring to make this definitive book freely available to African students and scholars — and indeed to any interested readers around the world. The Unglued Ebook will be particularly friendly to people in places with slow Internet connections: once a copy is downloaded, the book can be read offline.

This edition, developed in conjunction with Cambridge University’s World Oral Literature Project, will include a new introduction and extra digital material. When Finnegan’s book was first published forty years ago, the technology did not exist to include audio clips. Part of this Unglue campaign will involve the creation of a free online repository of Finnegan’s audio recordings of African story-telling, carefully collected during her fieldwork in the late 1960s. These clips, together with original photographs taken during her research, will become available for the first time to researchers everywhere — an invaluable resource to scholars of African literature and culture.

Oral Literature in Africa

(Via Boing Boing.)

Book Cave (Photo)

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

British WWII propaganda movies to view and download

The British Council has posted a fabulous trove of CC-licensed, downloadable 'cultural propaganda' videos commissioned during WWII to 'refute the idea that ours was a country stuck in the past.'

During the 1940s, the British Council was an enthusiastic commissioner of documentary films. Over 120 films were produced as 'cultural propaganda' to counteract anything the Nazis might throw out and to refute the idea that ours was a country stuck in the past. These films were designed to showcase Britain to the rest of the world, at a time when Britain itself was under attack.

Seen by millions of people in over 100 countries worldwide from the 1940's to 1960's, they present a historic snapshot of Britain, portraying its industry, its landscapes, and its people. The Collection is fantastically varied, covering anything from how a bicycle is made, to how the British spend their Saturdays. They provide us with a unique insight - not necessarily into how Britain actually was, but more into how Britain once wanted to be perceived by the rest of the world.

Alongside basic credits and production information, you can find some fascinating pieces of trivia, photos, and screen grabs, as well as the original synopses that the films were distributed with. Some of the films give you the option to go even deeper, to learn a little more about how the films was made. And, perhaps most importantly, you can not only watch the films online but download them too.

British Council Film: British Council Film Collection

(Via Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Founded 212 years ago today - The Library of Congress

On April 24,this day, in 1800 the United States Library of Congress was established when President John Adams signs legislation to appropriate $5,000 USD to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress". The Library of Congress, founded in 1800 and housed in a three-building complex across from the nation's capitol in Washington, D.C., is a storehouse for knowledge and an active center for research and creativity of all kinds--the world's largest and most open library. With collections numbering close to 100 million items, it includes materials in 460 languages; the basic manuscript collections of 23 Presidents of the United States, and the papers of thousands of other figures who have shaped history; maps and atlases that have aided explorers and navigators in charting both the world and outer space; the earliest motion pictures and examples of recorded sound, as well as the latest data bases and software packages.

Monday, April 23, 2012

University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department

The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments. Let’s get this straight: in the midst of a technology revolution, with a shortage of engineers and computer scientists, UF decides to cut computer science completely? They stand to "save" $1.7 million, while their athletic budget is $99 million - up more than $2 million from last year. FTW?

Full article at Forbes.

A reader has amplified this a bit. Not as bad as the original article implied, but not good either.
Contrary to some reports, Florida is not eliminating its computer science department. Instead, it is proposing a radical restructuring that will kill the research arm of one department, scattering its faculty and leaving any left behind with an expanded teaching burden and fewer teaching assistants. Whether it would be better to simply kill it isn't clear.
The rest is at ars technica.