Wednesday, June 27, 2007

DVD conversion

I don't think there's much in this NYT article about converting DVDs for use on iPods and the like that you all won't know already. However, what's interesting is the paragraphs on the legality of conversion. The article suggests that the issue (presuming you own the DVD and, of course, that you aren't making copies to sell) is unclear and unresolved.

Kevin Young's playlist... here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Google books map feature

Thanks to "Savage Minds," the anthropology blog, I've just come across the new feature of Google books that maps the locations mentioned in the text. Here's the post, and here's a sample map. You hit "about this book" and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. For instance, scroll down on this page to see the map of Hardt and Negri's Empire.

I wonder if anyone has yet noticed that this dovetails nicely with the work that Franco Moretti outlines in his Maps, Graphs, Trees -- a book that I recommend to anyone who wants to think about how technology might change the study of literature in a fundamental way. In fact, Google Books maps Moretti's book. (Let's face it, one reason that I like Moretti's book is that it gives a lot people fits.)

For now, though, this mapping feature of Google Books doesn't yet extend to fiction (as far as I can tell).

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Compendium of Advice for Graduate Students

As Sarah mentioned earlier, Horace of "To Delight and Instruct" has compiled a significant set of links to commentary and advice for graduate students -- and it's tilted heavily toward not only the humanities, but to English as well. The index post is here. I'll admit that I haven't read through all of the posts to which he links because, well, I'm not a graduate student. However, the range of the subjects is quite impressive, and I do know already that some of these are quite useful.

As I have said too many times before, the volume of advice and discussion of graduate student life that has been made available thanks to the Internet (and more specifically, blogging) is still pretty staggering to me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Digitizing library collections

This article talks about the Google efforts to digitize library collections and then discusses the new Emory effort as an alternative. You can read Emory's own press release here. You can see a picture of the Kirtas robotic book scanner here.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Surviving Graduate School Readings

Horace at To Delight and Instruct (inspired by a post by Dr Crazy) is working on gathering blog posts, articles, and other materials related to surviving graduate school. It seems like a blog project worth keeping an eye on.

Breaking Free from Blackboard

If, as some members of our cadre have expressed, you are less than pleased that it is impossible to show people outside the Emory community the amazing Blackboard sites that you have constructed, fret no more. With bFree, a java program developed by UNC's Information Technology Services, you can liberate all of the teaching materials locked away behind Blackboard's iron curtain. All you need is to export or archive your Blackboard course, then use bFree to open up the .zip file created through that process. Once that is done, you are given the option to extract this file as a series of files and folders, or as a web site. Either way retains the same hierarchical organization as the original Blackboard site, and the web option even applies a nice little style sheet to make things more presentable. For an example of the kind of web site you will get, click here to see a translation of the Blackboard site for the 181 class I taught this past semester. I just uploaded all of the files created by bFree to my WebDrive space. There isn't much depth to the site because we didn't use it very often. (I'll finally get around to making a post about how I used Blogger as an alternative to Blackboard sometime soon.)

Of course, you have to be careful about the kinds of things that you publish on the web in this way because of copyright issues. The nice thing about bFree is that it lets you select each individual level of organization that you want to extract, so you can keep copyrighted materials out of the extraction process altogether. Alternatively, you can just not upload the individual files that are subject to copyright, which is what I chose to do. This is why some of the links under "Readings" appear to be broken.

I think that this could be a very useful tool for showing off specific parts of your Blackboard sites to people who don't have access to Emory's Blackboard system, and for easily organizing your teaching materials on your own computer.