What We’re Reading: October 11, 2007 Edition
In the articles listed below we begin with yet another Wikipedia debate, but this one isn’t about what’s acceptable in student bibliographies. You’ll also find a link to the GAO report on the Smithsonian’s physical plant, which includes some worrying pictures. For political gossip lovers, check out Newsweek’s review of the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr’s diaries, which have been compiled into the book Journals: 1952-2000. In addition, there are links to a tale of public historians, suggestions on applying for tenure-track positions, accusations of elitism in history departments, and finally, some tips on how to preserve digital media.
- A War of Words on Wikipedia
This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog discusses editorial efforts to limit the amount of entries on Wikipedia. Setting aside the debates about the quality of the information on Wikipedia, this raises the question about how much information is too much information for Wikipedia (and perhaps the Internet more generally).
- Smithsonian Institution: Funding Challenges Affect Facilities’ Conditions and Security, Endangering Collections
Many members probably read about a recent GAO report on the sorry condition of the physical plant at the Smithsonian Institution in their local papers and on HNN, but anyone interested in reading the actual report can now find it online. The report includes a number of pictures showing how staff resort to using plastic sheeting to protect historic objects, certainly proving the power of images.
- A Schmoozer Shares All
Jonathan Alter of Newsweek picks out the most scandalous quotes from the pages of the late Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.’s diaries, now available as the book Journals: 1952-2000. Notable highlights include Schlesinger’s opinions of Donald Rumsfeld (“the rottenest”), Jimmy Carter (“a mean little man”), and Ronald Reagan (“loopy”).
- Rousing the Ghosts Of Appalachia
This Washington Post article explores Vindex, Maryland, a former coal-mining town, and presents an interesting example of local historians preserving the local past.
- These Things I Know: Applying for Tenure-Track Jobs
The Tenured Radical dispenses advice on applying for tenure-track jobs. Some of it, like "don’t waste your time applying for jobs where your field is ruled out from the get-go" and "do your homework about the department" we’ve been saying for years (See “Using the Annual Meeting to Win a Position at a Small Undergraduate College” and “The Insider’s Guide to the Job Register”). Others, like "for God’s sake, use letterhead," you wouldn’t necessarily think of. Of course, because the topic is jobs, the post has generated a lot of comments.
- Recent Patterns of Elitism in History Departments
PhDinHistory’s Sterling Fluharty goes back and looks at some federal survey data to find that history faculty seem much more likely to come from socially privileged backgrounds (using parental education as an indicator).
- Did You Know? Some Interesting Facts about Digital Media
The Library of Congress asks, “Did you know that digital materials can be more difficult to preserve than physical ones?” Take their quiz to see how much you know, and then check out their tips on digital preservation.
Contributions from David Darlington, Debbie Ann Doyle, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, Robert Townsend
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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