Books I’d like to read

For your reading and collection development pleasure!

Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Academic institutions are facing a crisis in scholarly publishing at multiple levels: presses are stressed as never before, library budgets are squeezed, faculty are having difficulty publishing their work, and promotion and tenure committees are facing a range of new ways of working without a clear sense of how to understand and evaluate them. Planned Obsolescence is both a provocation to think more broadly about the academy’s future and an argument for re-conceiving that future in more communally-oriented ways. Facing these issues head-on, Kathleen Fitzpatrick focuses on the technological changes especially greater utilization of internet publication technologies, including digital archives, social networking tools, and multimedia necessary to allow academic publishing to thrive into the future. But she goes further, insisting that the key issues that must be addressed are social and institutional in origin. Confronting a change-averse academy, she insists that before we can successfully change the systems through which we disseminate research, scholars must re-evaluate their ways of working how they research, write, and review while administrators must reconsider the purposes of publishing and the role it plays within the university. Springing from original research as well as Fitzpatrick’s own hands-on experiments in new modes of scholarly communication through MediaCommons, the digital scholarly network she co-founded, Planned Obsolescence explores all of these aspects of scholarly work, as well as issues surrounding the preservation of digital scholarship and the place of publishing within the structure of the contemporary university.

Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff

The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: It’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, “and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.”

In ten chapters, composed of ten “commands” accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyber enthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe.

In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age–and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.

The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Changing Academic Practice by Martin Weller

While industries such as music, newspapers, film and publishing have seen radical changes in their business models and practices as a direct result of new technologies, higher education has so far resisted the wholesale changes we have seen elsewhere. However, a gradual and fundamental shift in the practice of academics is taking place. Every aspect of scholarly practice is seeing changes effected by the adoption and possibilities of new technologies. This book will explore these changes, their implications for higher education, the possibilities for new forms of scholarly practice and what lessons can be drawn from other sectors.

Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses by Taylor Walsh

Over the past decade, a small revolution has taken place at some of the world’s leading universities, as they have started to provide free access to undergraduate course materials–including syllabi, assignments, and lectures–to anyone with an Internet connection. Yale offers high-quality audio and video recordings of a careful selection of popular lectures, MIT supplies digital materials for nearly all of its courses, Carnegie Mellon boasts a purpose-built interactive learning environment, and some of the most selective universities in India have created a vast body of online content in order to reach more of the country’s exploding student population. Although they don’t offer online credit or degrees, efforts like these are beginning to open up elite institutions–and may foreshadow significant changes in the way all universities approach teaching and learning. Unlocking the Gates is one of the first books to examine this important development.

The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out by Clayton Christensen

The language of crisis is nothing new in higher education–for years critics have raised alarms about rising tuition, compromised access, out of control costs, and a host of other issues. Yet, though those issues are still part of the current crisis, it is not the same as past ones. For the first time, disruptive technologies are at work in higher education. For most of their histories, traditional universities and colleges have had no serious competition except from institutions with similar operating models. Now, though, there are disruptive competitors offering online degrees. Many of these institutions operate as for-profit entities, emphasizing marketable degrees for working adults. Traditional colleges and universities have valuable qualities and capacities that can offset those disruptors’ advantages–but not for everyone who aspires to higher education, and not without real innovation. How can institutions of higher education think constructively and creatively about their response to impending disruption?

Introduction to Information Science and Technology edited by Charles H. Davis and Debora Shaw

This guide to information science and technology — the product of a unique scholarly collaboration –presents a clear, concise, and approachable account of the fundamental issues, with appropriate historical background and theoretical grounding. Topics covered include information needs, seeking, and use; representation and organization of information; computers and networks; structured information systems; information systems applications; users perspectives in information systems; social informatics; communication using information technologies; information policy; and the information profession.

I have a bit of a backlog of these, so there’ll probably be another post pretty soon, maybe even this week.

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