Everyone (in academia) needs an Acadominatrix

Most researchers love research but finding the time and energy for serious writing is a real problem. We write all the time. But no amount of emails, blogposts and tweets will get you tenure (or whatever the local equivalent).

We complain and dream about having more time. Which is translated into the dream of being showered in research funding. But who has time to write applications we moan collectively. So we struggle and embarrassedly attempt to disguise the wrecks of unfinished texts that litter our careers. Sure money is a problem and time is even more so. But what we really need is self-discipline, the mother of all deadlines, the biggest whip that will crack us into action and keep our cold fingers typing.

Enter the wacky world of AcWriMo with its founder, overenthusiastic cheerleader and residing Acadominatrix Charlotte Frost.

The project is devised around social shaming and a shared support group among suffering equals (more details here) and has six easy steps:

1. Set yourself some crazy goals. My #acwrimo goal: 25000 words in November. Beginning on a book on how technologies (and law and norms) regulate us.
2. Publicly declare your participation and goals. Well I declared it on twitter, this blog and soon on Facebook.
3. Draft a strategy. Is write like the devil is chasing you a strategy? No? well I plan to write 1000 words a day for 25 out of November days. Missing a day will result in needing to write 2000 words the next day. Need to put this in my calendar somehow. Worst case scenario? I will sleep in December.
4. Discuss what you’re doing. The fellow madmen are extremely supportive and funny. Using twitter & facebook to update on work done, goals missed and a lot of information about which tea they are drinking. Writing like this becomes less lonely and talking about the goals gives me a renewed reachable goal each day.
5. Don’t slack off. Major, major problem. The list offers support but sticking with the program is tough. Not to be made easier this year with the release of Assassins Creed III on October 31 (damn you Ubisoft!) Here is where the whip crack of social shaming and the role of resident Acadominatrix, with an ability to crack virtual whips comes in.
6. Publicly declare your results – and please be honest! Win or lose this is the best part. Aside from some academics that seem to have an inhuman ability we are all human and the way forward is to admit that.

So don’t think about it – just do it! This will be my second round and it was lots of fun. I failed miserably for my overambitious goal last year but I still produced a lot of text. Talked a lot more about my research and writing than I normally do and discovered (which I really always knew) that I wasn’t alone.

AcWriMo2012

The annual Academic writing marathon AcWriMo (academic writing month) begins in November. The basic idea is to band together with virtual friends, to create social pressure and to write like never before. A longer description of the system/rules is here.

The main driving force behind AcWriMo2012 is the energetic Charlotte Frost. Check out the list of those who have already joined.

 

 

Tolerance is law

Enjoying the great feeling of seeing my latest article (together with Jan Nolin) in (digital) print! Please check out Tolerance is law: Remixing Homage, Parodying Plagiarism which has been published today in the open journal Scripted.

Would like to thank the reviewers for pointing out the flaws and helping us improve the article. But I still want more so every and all comment is appreciated.

The abstract is boring but the article is (hopefully) much more interesting. Abstract:

Three centuries have passed since copyright law was developed to stimulate creativity and promote learning. The fundamental principles still apply, despite radical developments in the technology of production and distribution of cultural material. In particular the last decades’ developments and adoption of ICTs have drastically lowered barriers, which previously prevented entry into the production and distribution side of the cultural marketplace, and led to a widening of the base at which cultural production occurs and is disseminated. Additionally, digitalisation has made it economically and technically feasible for users to appropriate and manipulate earlier works as method of production.
The renegotiation of barriers and the increasing number of creators who publish their works has led to an increase in copyright violations and a pressure on copyright legislation. Many of these potential violations are tolerated, in some cases have become common practice, and created social norms. Others have not been so fortunate and the law has been rigidly enforced. This arbitrary application decreases the predictability of law and creates a situation where creation relies on the tolerance of the other copyright holders. This article analyses different cases of reuse that test the boundaries of copyright. Some of these are tolerated, others not. When regulation fails to capture the rich variation of creative reuse, it becomes difficult to predict which works will be tolerated. The analysis suggests that as copyright becomes prohibitive, social norms, power and the values of the copyright holder dominate and not law.

M Klang & J Nolin, “Tolerance is law: Remixing Homage, Parodying Plagiarism”, (2012) 9:1 SCRIPTed 7 http://script-ed.org/?p=476

Beating the crowds: A pre-emptive study of Teleportation Law

With a few days margin I finally got around to submitting my abstract for this years GikII which will be in London. The title is “Beating the crowds: A pre-emptive study of Teleportation Law”. This is among the coolest conferences as the people are smart and funny – and tend to explore the stranger sides of technology law.

The deadline is  August 13th 2012 – so there is still time for you to submit.

Here is my abstract:

Great strides are being made in the field of instantaneous transportation. Only recently (2006), physicists in Denmark and Germany passed gas over a distance of several hundred centimeters. Despite this great leap, scientists are still struggling with the concept of human teleportation.

To the cultural historian, however, the concept of teleportation (the shifting, usually instantaneously, of matter from one point to another without physically passing through the territory between the points) is well established. Teleportation appears in a plethora of sources: from the founding legend of the Kingdom of Champa to Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and in almost every episode of Star Trek.

This lack of progress among physicists creates a window of opportunity for jurists to ensure that the necessary legal fundamentals are laid out in preparation for the scientific realization. This will ensure that, at least in this area, jurisprudence is not caught in the steel trap of Wendell Holmes’ pessimistic dictum of the law being inevitably behind the times.

In order to ensure that only the (current) laws of physics are broken it is necessary to look at teleportation from the several perspectives. The goal of this paper is to prepare an initial study over the necessary areas of law needed to successfully carry out human teleportation. It will, inter alia, look at criminal law, intellectual property, illegal downloading, privacy, protection of personhood, human rights, medical law and immigration issues.

With this paper the author hopes to demonstrate the ways in which technological breakthroughs require a reappraisal of existing legal attitudes and a revaluation of their underlying norms.

Lets eat Grandma

Reading too many papers written by students with poor language skills is melting my brain, and it’s not that I am particularly good at correct use of punctuation…

I just love the intro to Kyle Wiens blogpost: I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

 

Nor do I want to be a language police. Every time I get too serious about this I remind myself of this…

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

Tolerance is Law

The good news today is that the revision to the article “Tolerance is Law: Remixing Homage Parodying Plagiarism” (written with Jan Nolin) are done and its been sent in to SCRIPTed

As its not been published yet all I can provide is the abstract and this wordle doodle of the text. The good news is that SCRIPTed provides its articles freely and openly online.

 

Three centuries have passed since copyright was developed to stimulate creativity and promote learning. The fundamental principles still apply, despite radical developments in the technology of production and distribution of cultural material. In particular the last decades’ developments and adoption of ICT’s have drastically lowered barriers, which previously prevented entry into the production and distribution side of the cultural marketplace, and led to a widening of the base at which cultural production occurs and is disseminated.  Additionally, digitalization has made it economically and technically feasible for users to appropriate and manipulate earlier works as method of production.

The renegotiation of barriers and the increased number of creators who publish their works has led to an increase in copyright violations and a pressure on copyright legislation. Many of these potential violations are tolerated, in some cases have become common practice, and created social norms. Others have not been so fortunate and the law has been rigidly enforced. This arbitrary application decreases the predictability of law and creates a situation where creation relies on the tolerance of the other copyright holders. This article analyses different cases of reuse that test boundaries of copyright. Some of these are tolerated, others not. When regulation fails to capture the rich variation of creative reuse, it becomes difficult to predict which works will be tolerated. The analysis suggests that as copyright becomes prohibitive, social norms, power and the values of the copyright holder dominate and not law.

 

What are you writing for #AcBoWriMo

Following the good example of Emily and the Lime presenting what we are writing for AcBoWriMo.

My project is to write a book about Online Identity (this is a very crappy working title). Since finishing my PhD (effects of technology on regulation of Democracy) I have had several ideas for longer works. All of these ideas have crashed and burned due to lack of time and other good excuses. So when I came across AcBoWriMo at the same time I had yet another idea for a book it was time to jump in with both feet.

The idea of the book is the way’s in which technological change are forcing changing attitudes to the concept of identity. In particular I will look at the ways in which regulation and protection of elements of identity are being affected by these changes. The fundamental idea is that we have previously agreed upon loosely defined and understood ideas of identity and their protection but these ideas and protections are being challenged (blown away almost) by the ways in which we use technology. The book will show the ways in which regulation fails and attempt to describe why this failure occurs. This is not really as clear as it should be but I am right now not focusing on defining the overarching idea of the whole book but building it from the bottom up with each chapter exploring different (though naturally related) changes.

For me the project began with a mindmap – (ugly version below) – and will in 18 working days reach 36 000 words in November and somewhere between 80 ooo – 100 000 words by mid January. For me AcBoWriMo is a welcome kick up the backside in forcing the launch of the writing project (no more excuses) and a pleasurable way in working alongside others – is this a form of misery loves company?

So what are you writing?

The Martini Method

Writing can be hard, boring, lonely work. We need all the help we can get. I just came across the Martini Method (via Academic Productivity) and feel instantaneously its my kind of carrot and whip!

What I call the Martini Method is named after an anecdote I once read about the novelist Anthony Burgess (of Clockwork Orange fame). Burgess was a very productive writer, which is attributed to a system where he would force himself to write a 1000 words a day, 365 days a year. When he had completed his word count, he would relax with a dry martini, and enjoy the rest of the day with an easy conscience, and normally in bar. A friend of mine’s version of the Martini Method was to come into the office everyday, and not allow herself to leave until her word target had been reached. Most days she left before 5pm, though on occasion she would stay as late as 6 or 7. She would also set herself mini Martinis, such as allowing herself an ice cream in the summer once she had hit half her daily word count. Though we started at the same time, she finished her PhD a lot earlier than me!