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Archive for March, 2013

Interesting blog post re using mind mapping software to map relationships between books in an old library, their annotations etc.

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The Guardian newspaper today posted an article in its online blogs reflecting on predictions for 2013 made by futurologists back in 1988. As a historian, and also a computer science graduate used to seeing rapid changes in technology, it was interesting to see how much the futurologists at the time guessed correctly, and how much was wrong. Though my own historical research tends to look far back in time it’s not unusual for people, including historians, to try to assess what will happen in the future, based at least in part on the past.

Anyway I recommend having a look at it, for entertainment if nothing else. I wonder how accurate any predictions for 2050 made now would be.

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Another to-do catch up here.

I’ve put my chapmen research project on hold for now, because I’ve been too knocked out lately to move it forward. In particular I’ve not been able to move the necessary reading forward, and there’s an awful lot of that I need to work through effectively. There is also the issue of what I can include in any resulting paper, given the costly open access implications. I haven’t quite worked out what to do with that yet. But other things are looming more quickly, and must take priority.

I’ve sketched out my talk for the archives conference next month. I only have to speak for 10-15 minutes, in quite a packed panel, so will need to be concise and to the point. But I think I should have just the right amount of material for that. I’ll be practising to check on the timing issues nearer the time. Again I used my iPad to develop my ideas, creating a mind map of what I’ll cover, using the iThoughtsHD app.

The other looming thing I need to focus on is working on necessary revisions for a paper that’s been accepted by an academic journal for publication probably next year, subject to the necessary revisions being done. I’ve got the reports from the two readers, and have drawn up a list of the key things to focus on. And again I’m doing the main work on my iPad, having transferred the readers’ reports to there, as well as the latest working version of the journal paper to annotate using my stylus in Goodreader. The revised version of the paper needs to be with the editor in a couple of months, so I’m prioritising working on that now.

I’m also resuming work on my interactive fiction game. I’ve sketched the overall plot in a mind map using iThoughtsHD, and am coding up the game in Inform 7. It has a lovely integrated development environment, which in many ways makes programming like playing a game, and is ridiculously good fun. But large games are still complex entities, so I’m growing mine slowly and steadily, in careful steps. I’ve found that sketching out the overall plot in advance has been really helpful, to keep me focused and productive.

The other thing I’m working on is a series of articles about places with strange histories and much potential for roleplaying ideas, especially horror games like Call of Cthulhu. This developed from a series of articles that I’ve been writing for the Yog-Sothothery magazine for patrons of the Yog-Sothoth website. But I’ve so many possible articles that I could write that I may end up working on something standalone, in anthology form. Anyway I’m having a lot of fun writing these places. Two-thirds of the articles completed so far are about Scottish places with strange histories, and the other third about English things. Generally, though, I find it best to write about things I already know quite a bit about, hence the leaning towards Scottish subjects.

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I really enjoyed this blog post by writer Michael Jecks, in particular what he wrote about ebooks. Most of all: “Because the most important thing about books is not, really, whether they are on paper, an electronic screen, or carved with care into blocks of granite. The important thing is, that they are read.” which echoes so strongly with my own views.

writerlywitterings

Writing books is a funny way to try to earn a crust. Authors are expected to be slightly odd characters (and most of us can live up – or down – to that), with peculiar insights which can be gained only by using illegal drugs or by excessive quantities of legal ones. I tend to the second.
But being a writer, for me, was a way not so much of earning a living, but of continuing my delight in and with books.
I have always loved books. I find it deeply, humiliatingly, hypocritical still, to be telling off my son for reading under his bedclothes, when I can still remember doing the same thing myself at his age. And, oddly enough, reading the same William books as he is now. Exactly the same in most cases, since the thieving little brute has filched my ancient hardbacks.
Books have accompanied me…

View original post 1,424 more words

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Research Councils UK has today published new guidance on Open Access publishing. There are some changes, including greater addressing of the green Open Access route, and relaxations on speed of implementation, and differing timings for e.g. humanities. But there is still no section addressing the issue of independent scholars, and the increased personal cost that they may face under this new scheme. The Research Councils are offering extra funding to pay for APC charges, but this is based on institutions, and block grants. This is of no benefit to non-affiliated independent scholars like me.

I’m still finding this incredibly frustrating. My AHRC-funded PhD thesis is freely available online, in PDF form, but I’m being penalised and restricted re future publishing based on it. This is the case even when the content from the PhD is only a tiny little bit of a paper with mostly new research. So I either don’t publish, expunge the PhD bit, or break the rules.

And I’m in favour of Open Access, as seen by my thesis already being freely available. But I’m not in favour of Open Access the way RCUK are pushing it through.

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I’ve been writing a number of informal articles for a pair of upcoming Doctor Who books, each looking at stories in the classic (1996 and earlier) or new (post 2005) series, and the impact they’ve had on fans watching. I was writing as a fan, have been since I was extremely young, and the articles are predominantly informal pieces.

One article that I didn’t get to include in the books is about the pair of of 2008 episodes Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, a two-part story. But the editor encouraged me to write it anyway, and it’s been posted on the book’s website as an example of the sort of thing the books contain. And because it’s academic, and in particular book history related, I’m linking to it here. Very lightly academic-related. Issues touched on include ebooks versus print books, and the decline and closure of libraries. And other stuff!

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