Saturday, 28 August 2010

scholarship changing with the times

Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review

Andrew Councill for The New York Times
Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, is among the academics who advocate a more open, Web-based approach to reviewing scholarly works.
For professors, publishing in elite journals is an unavoidable part of university life. The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century.

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Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.
“What we’re experiencing now is the most important transformation in our reading and writing tools since the invention of movable type,” said Katherine Rowe, a Renaissance specialist and media historian at Bryn Mawr College. “The way scholarly exchange is moving is radical, and we need to think about what it means for our fields.”
That transformation was behind the recent decision by the prestigious 60-year-oldShakespeare Quarterly to embark on an uncharacteristic experiment in the forthcoming fall issue — one that will make it, Ms. Rowe says, the first traditional humanities journal to open its reviewing to the World Wide Web.
Mixing traditional and new methods, the journal posted online four essays not yet accepted for publication, and a core group of experts — what Ms. Rowe called “our crowd sourcing” — were invited to post their signed comments on the Web site MediaCommons, a scholarly digital network. Others could add their thoughts as well, after registering with their own names. In the end 41 people made more than 350 comments, many of which elicited responses from the authors. The revised essays were then reviewed by the quarterly’s editors, who made the final decision to include them in the printed journal, due out Sept. 17.
Read the rest of the article here, 

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

after 53 years of independence, whither malaysia? part 3

Again, the gov't knows best

Josh Hong      Aug 20th   malaysiakini

I must confess I do not always agree with Jamaluddin Ibrahim, but we always manage to agree to disagree. The youngest son of the late freedom fighters Shamsiah Fakeh and Ibrahim Mohamad, Jamal or “Jiama”, as he is popularly known in the Chinese-speaking community, speaks impeccable Mandarin, thanks to his birth and education in China.
azlanJamal joined the MCA-owned Chinese-language radio station 988 more than a year ago, and impressed the audience with his strong command of Mandarin. While Chua Soi Lek, the MCA president, has reiterated time and again he will not interfere in the daily operation of 988, the developments in recent days suggest otherwise.

Owing to his unique background, Jamal does offer interesting viewpoints at times that may not go down well with certain quarters in the Chinese community, while his effort to push the boundaries has certainly raised the eyebrows of the highest echelons of the MCA leadership.

Rumours have it that several MCA Youth leaders at the division level were keenly following the contents of Jamal's programme - 'Hi Malaysia' - in the morning, and expressed to Chua their dissatisfaction over alleged bias against Barisan Nasional.
NONESources revealed these “informants” were closely affiliated with Wee Ka Siong, the MCA Youth chief. That they even resorted to recording was because Chua is English-educated and cannot quite understand Jamal's standard Mandarin.

Early this week, 988 received a letter from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) requesting explanations in regard to “inappropriate language” and “sensitive issues” as reported by a particular listener (yes, singular).

Since then, Jamal has been taken off air indefinitely and Wong Lai Ngo, the CEO, suspended together with several senior members of staff and DJs pending investigation. At a media briefing yesterday, Rais Yatim, the Minister of (Dis)Information, even had the nerve to brag that an advisory had been issued to 988 as a warning shot.
Swift action, but based on what?

I am at a loss at to what “sensitive issues” would there be that were repugnant to the mysterious listener. On one hand, I would love to commend the MCMC for the fact that it acted immediately on the complaint of one mysterious listener.

However, on the other hand, the swift reaction begs the question as to what elements in 'Hi Malaysia' which had actually caused discomfort to the complainant. How on earth is one expected to respond to accusations when relevant details are at best vague and at worst missing?

The MCMC letter did mention something about racial sentiments. But Jamal is a Malay who constantly encourages in Mandarin his Chinese audience to endeavour to understand other ethnic communities in greater depth, rather that being contented with superficial interaction. Were such comments as “seditious” as those made by Perkasa?

Meanwhile, Jamal's sarcasm and witticism are often targeted at both Chinese and non-Chinese, and Malaysians should learn to take them in stride. To say that he is the best embodiment of 1Malaysia is rather far-fetched and clichéd, yet it would not be too pretentious to say Jamal is everything that Ridhuan Tee is not.

All this has prompted me to once again question the pledge made by Najib Abdul Razak upon ascension to the prime ministership last year. Then, he admitted readily that the days when the government knew best were over, and it was high time the media be given the right to report freely and responsibly in the age of political awakening.
Increased hurdles for alternative media

More than one year on, all that we have witnessed is increased hurdles for alternative media to be circulated in the market, egregious crackdown on publications not tolerated by the authorities, tightened control over news coverage on air, the unruly and insidious manner in which the mainstream press portrays national issues, the blatant political interference in media operation right up to the Prime Minister's Office, the arbitrary termination of documentary series that were deemed detrimental to the government, and the assault on the freedom of speech in broad daylight.

'Hi Malaysia' is the latest case in point. The incident has exposed to the full how far behind the MCA leaders are when compared to the political awareness of the general public. The moment the news came out, thousands of listeners vented their anger and frustrations on 
Facebook and via SMS, and I could barely conceal my pleasant surprise that many were young people and housewives. azlanFearing a backlash and further controversies, the management of the Star RFM took the liberty to close down fans' pages of all the 988 deejays. Is it not akin to the Chinese saying of stealing a bell with one's ears covered, pretending that the whole world is not in the know?

This flagrant attack cannot have happened without the connivance of the MCA and Umno, but their leaders must be warned they will pay with a heavier price come next general elections.

Mahathir Mohamad, Ling Liong Sik, Ong Ka Ting, S Samy Vellu and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were all at one time or another deluded that they could manipulate and fool the people to their hearts' content, but they are now all struggling to protect the vestiges of their legacy. What makes Najib and Chua Soi Lek think they can do better than their discredited predecessors in a vastly changed political landscape?

Most importantly, any campaign in protest of the abrupt suspension of 'Hi Malaysia' must move beyond saving Jamal and other deejays to make it more meaningful, for it is an issue that concerns not only several prominent individuals, but every Malaysian who longs for a country in which one enjoys not only freedom of speech, but also freedom after speech.

We must boldly take up the challenge and confront the state successfully, only then can we proudly say that the days when the government knows best are truly over.

king herod

August 20, 2010

Digging King Herod

By Aryeh Tepper

King Herod was a Jew of doubtful origin who ruled Israel in the years 40-4 B.C.E. During this same period, the Roman republic was being replaced by the Roman Empire with its vast expansionist aims. Relying on Roman support for his power, Herod was, in effect, Israel's little Roman emperor. And he played the part, bringing administrative order and economic prosperity to the country and creating hugely ambitious architectural projects. In the Roman way, he was also cruel, paranoid, and thorough, killing his wife, three sons, and an assortment of other relatives and confidants.

During his lifetime Herod initiated four major architectural ventures: the port city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast, two desert fortress-palaces, Masada and Herodion (Herodium in Latin), and the renovation and expansion of the second Temple. The last of these projects was undertaken in a failed attempt to win over the Jewish masses.
The extent of Herod's failure came to light in 2007 thanks to one of the most electrifying archeological finds in recent times: the discovery of his tomb at Herodion.
Herodion lies high on a cone-shaped hill at the edge of the Judean desert, ten minutes south of Jerusalem and five minutes east of Bethlehem. Like Herod, the structure is a bit schizophrenic. The monumental complex is divided into two main sections, a fortress-like upper level and a lower-level pleasure palace where the king entertained his guests with flowing pools and terraced gardens.  Local Arabs still call the place baradis: paradise. Herod indeed designated Herodion to be his personal gateway to paradise, for he was buried there. After his death, the hill was commandeered by Jewish rebels who used it as a fortified redoubt in their wars against the occupying Roman forces in 70-72 and 130-32 C.E.  For the next two millennia, the site remained buried under dirt.

for rest of the article, read here: