It's Not 1995 Again—Why the Threats from the New Big Players May Be Much More Significant This Time

The Scholarly Kitchen • 7 May 2013

Not so fast. Despite its wholesome aura, open-access publishing has drawbacks, says blogger Kent Anderson. When corporate or government entities back their own open-access ventures, ulterior motives can skew the results and deep pockets can distort business models. Anderson says, "Once again, small, non-profit publishers are in the most vulnerable position." Read on to learn more about the potential dark side of the open-access publishing movement.

Read The Economist article to see how the popular press thinks about open-access publishing. Then read the nicely contrarian view from Kent Anderson which demands that you have a more nuanced view of scholarly publishing dynamics. If you want to complete the picture read Joe Esposito's post "The Inexorable Path of the Professional Society Publisher" which suggests that commercial alliances for societies are inevitable. Watch out libraries—you pay, any way. (Michalko)

Adventures in Neurohumanities

The Nation • 7 May 2013

Just add "neuro" and stir. Intensified interest in neuroscience, coupled with increased funding, is spawning new research into how the brain reacts to art and literature. Author Alissa Quart critiques the trend, which she blames on the over-scientification of qualitative disciplines along with the decline of critical theory. Read on for more on how higher education is embracing the neurohumanities.

I was unaware of how far this approach had spread and a lot about this critique sounds correct although I'd stop short of a defense of "critical theory." It's probably the single biggest reason that the humanities are now fully distanced from the ordinary citizenry. Would a W.H. Auden interview be on broadcast television today? (Michalko)

Metaphors Are Us

Nautilus • Issue 1

Feeling the pain. Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky's essay on humans' capacity to think symbolically explores the power of imagination to trigger physical response. Read on for more on how the brain's anterior cingulate processes abstract and physical sensations, resulting in a system that is "not very good at distinguishing between the metaphorical and the literal."

Interesting relation to the previous article—the bits of our brain used to create various physical reactions are repurposed and invoked to interpret and understand the symbolic. Some of the research cited—washing your hands after thinking about a transgression—circles around that "priming" research that's been getting so much attention recently. (Michalko)

The Rumpus Interview with Kevin Smokler

The Rumpus • 25 April 2013

Back to the classics. Part of what makes a novel a "classic" is its relevance at multiple levels during different times of one's life. Check out this interview with Kevin Smokler, author of Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School. You may even be inspired to dust off To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby and enjoy a good read all over again.

I'm going to get this book. This interview was a nice antidote to the burst of angst caused by the invocation of "critical theory" in that earlier article. I love a guy who chooses Clifton Fadiman over Harold Bloom to wit "What I love about Clifton Fadiman is that to his mind, there was no distinction between intellectual improvement and enjoying yourself." (Michalko)

Productivity in the Modern Office: A Matter of Impact

Knowledge@Wharton • 8 May 2013

Manage the individual. Blanket policies like "no telecommuting" punish highly productive employees and time-wasters equally, which can lead to low morale and staff turnover. Read on for a primer on productivity measurement and reward systems that work. And just in case you're tempted to play Words With Friends while perusing, check out The Vision Statement: The Multitasking Paradox from Harvard Business Review.

Be sure to follow that HBR link above. And yes, blanket policies probably are sub-optimal but I continue to be sympathetic to the edict issued by Marissa Mayer. Maybe what she wanted was to create a sense of urgency, demand some focus and re-create some sense of communal effort. Given all the attention this has gotten I suspect she got what she wanted. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, how many ISBNs are there in MARC records?

Get the answer.