Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Posted: October 21, 2019 by zombieacademy in Academy, News, Politics, Research, Teaching

The International Australian Studies Association (InASA) is writing in response to recent press reports of the discontinuation of the Chair of Australian Literature at University of Sydney unless philanthropic funding is forthcoming (SMH 15/10/2019; The Australian 16/10/19). InASA urges immediate reconsideration of this course of action on numerous grounds.

At a time when tensions are particularly acute between national interests and global politics—particularly on University campuses in teaching and research—in-depth and specialised expertise of Australian culture in both its distinctiveness and its global connections is essential to provide knowledge and leadership to the public, students, and government. Australian literature, understood as part of an expanded public sphere and cultural industry, makes an enormous contribution to Australia’s self-image and to our international profile. Leading writers all contribute to a range of topical issues and debates through different perspectives and from different positions. The study of Australian literature amplifies such writers’ voices and provides a stage for their contribution to intellectual thought. Professor Robert Dixon’s leadership in the Sydney Studies in Australian Literature book series, enabled by his role as the University Chair, is an excellent example of this.

There are now thirty-eight “Australian Studies Centres” in China, and many Chinese academics have trained in Australian literature and participate in Australia’s extension of influence and “soft power” in the Asia- Pacific region. This is also evident in the Australia-Japan Foundation Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo (regularly held by Australian literature specialists).

Humanities and Social Sciences in Australian universities face new challenges, with philanthropic funding being marketed as a panacea for disinvestment by university administrations and federal governments led by ill-informed and instrumentalist agendas. It is particularly disappointing to see the University of Sydney proposing to outsource its core business in this way, given the strong stance taken by many academics there questioning the potential for philanthropic funding to infringe upon academic freedom.

Finally, the announcement of the disinvestment in Australian Literature comes only months after the Parliament of Australia called an “Inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy”. The Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney has long played a national role in precisely the issues raised as under threat by the Senate’s inquiry, and it is extremely unfortunate that the University of Sydney does not consider literature to have a future role in such critical concerns.

We strongly urge the University of Sydney to reconsider its position and to support the ongoing funding of the University of Sydney Chair in Australian Literature.




Posted: October 15, 2019 by zombieacademy in News
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Posted: July 4, 2019 by zombieacademy in News, Politics

Hungarian Academy of Sciences stripped of its research network

brain death

Posted: May 7, 2012 by zombieacademy in Academy, Brains, News, Research, Teaching

Analysis of a field test of new instruments for measuring electrodermal activity reveals flatlining student brain activity during lectures and classes on par with watching TV.

Via Lisa Wade @ Sociological Images and Joi Ito, & Boing Boing.


Students brains flatlining during classes

The “zombified” US Research Works Act was dropped this week following a boycott and protest of Elsevier, one of the major sponsors of the bill and a campaign contributor to the acts’ sponsor, Carolyn Maloney. Maloney and Elsevier are attempting to circumvent the 2008 changes to the US National Institutes of Health which ensures all research funded by its grants are freely available to the public.

Gamifying Plagiarism

Posted: November 11, 2011 by zombieacademy in News

The developers of Turnitin, iParadigms, have gamified (and further zombified) plagiarism, with a new service called WriteCheck for students to check their assessments against the Turnitin database for $7US a piece.

Pirates versus Zombies

Posted: July 25, 2011 by zombieacademy in Academy, News, Politics

Pirates are way cooler than ninjas (as the meme goes), but are they greater than zombies?

In the pirate corner is Aaron Swartz, a blogger, programmer and activist, currently the director of the political lobby group Demand Progress, ( Swartz, described as a “respected Harvard researcher” and “Internet folk hero” by the New York times, was charged with computer fraud last week in Boston. He is accused of unlawfully downloading millions of documents from JSTOR (who represent our zombies), one of the largest online databases housing articles from hundreds of academic publishers.

At 24 years of age Swartz is a controversial figure, he has worked with some of the most interesting datamancers and legal luminaries of the information age, including Tim Berners-Lee at MIT, and Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons Foundation and has worked on the software architecture of the Open Library project at the Internet Archive. He help co-author the RSS 1.0 standard at age 14, and was involved with a social news site that enables user ‘upvote’ and ‘downvote’ content. Swartz provided programming for the site when his start up merged with the site’s was ‘founders’ Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, in 2006, and he was fired soon after Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired Reddit in 2006.

This is a long term battle for Swarz, he wrote the ‘Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto’ in 2008, and is accused of downloading the JSTOR files in 2009.

News of Swartz’s indictment has recruited new pirates to the battle, most notably self-described ‘scientist hobbyist’, Greg Maxwell who published a torrent file earlier this week on The Pirate Bay. Maxwell has seeded a massive collection of academic publications (more than 30 gigabytes of data) from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society published before 1923 ( and therefore technically in the public domain) with a manifesto of his own that is worth a read.

The zombies definitely have the legal, if the not the ethical high ground, but the pirates have opened up with a massive broadside.