Wednesday, April 26, 2006

fanfic day on BoingBoing

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Yesterday, the blog BoingBoing (a daily read for me) had not one, but TWO posts about fan fiction. The first was nothing startling, but was eloquently put. The post links to Teresa Nielsen Hayden, an editor at Tor Books, who said:
In a purely literary sense, fanfic doesn’t exist. There is only fiction. Fanfic is a legal category created by the modern system of trademarks and copyrights. Putting that label on a work of fiction says nothing about its quality, its creativity, or the intent of the writer who created it. (link to original)
And then later in the day, someone else chimed in to report that California was named after some 16th century fanfic:
California is named after the island of California, home of Queen Calafia, her beautiful black amazons and their man-eating griffins, as all detailed in Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo's Las Sergas de Esplandian, which was the Sword of Shanarra of its day, a highly unauthorized but popular sequel to the much more highly respected Amadis de Gaul, more The Lord of the Rings of its day. (link to original)
They both stemmed out of the same discussion going on over at the blog Making Light, prompted by a post titled "Fanfic: force of Nature." I might have a new blog feed I need to add to my Bloglines!

Friday, April 21, 2006

there are stupid questions

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It's a sunny Friday afternoon, and I'm catching up on the pile of Chronicle of Higher Educations that have accumulated in my office the past few weeks. (I guess I've been pretty busy?)

The April 7, 2006 Chronicle Review includes a one-page think piece by Maureen Donohue-Smith called "There Is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question." The title kinda grabs you, of course, and I read it because I was curious if the title was facetious or not. It's not.

She makes the point that, indeed, in the classroom, there are stupid questions, like when a student interrupts a lecture to ask how the upcoming paper is supposed to be (when it's printed on the syllabus). But then she gets into the necessity for faculty to teach students how to ask good questions.

This reminded me of the interview for my current job, when I was asked to define information literacy, and I responded (mainly flying by the seat of my pants), it's knowing how to ask good questions. I think I made decent sense of that idea then, but it wasn't something I'd thought out too terribly much yet.

But I think Donohue-Smith and I were getting at the same thing: that students who know how to ask good questions are good learners. They know enough to know what they need to know. They enough about the discipline to know what kinds of questions should be asked.

She gives some concrete suggestions for how faculty can teach students to form good questions, such as:

Require students to ask questions in class. Research on students' attention spans suggests pausing every 15 or 20 minutes to allow students to organize their notes and summarize important points. During those pauses, ask groups of three or four students to think of several significant questions about what they're learning. Have them share the questions with the rest of the class, ask why they consider them important, and ask other students to modify the questions.

This suggestion helps teachers move beyond the simple imperative to ask for questions and wait for a response. It guides students to ask questions, rather than expecting that students already know how to ask questions.

Note: the Chronicle online requires a subscription for access to most of its content, but I *think* this article is one of the free ones.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sonic Youth follow-up

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Cool. I got an email on Tuesday from a reference librarian at the LOC's Recorded Sound Reference Center (how cool would that job be?!) thanking me for my email, and noting that the description had been corrected later that day (in other words, I was not the first to see the error.). Daydream Nation is now described as SY's "breakthrough" album, thus avoiding the whole numbering issue altogether. Yay.

Original Post

Corrected press release for the 2005 National Recording Registry list.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sonic Youth in the National Recording Registry!

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In 2000, Congress passed the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, "A bill to establish the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress to maintain and preserve sound recordings and collections of sound recordings that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and for other purposes" (Public Law 106-474; H.R.4846)

Every year, the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry announces a list of 50 recordings to be added to this collection. This year, Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation was added (as were “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” from Gil Scott-Heron, We’re Only in It for the Money from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, the incredible “Anthology of American Folk Music”, and the song “John the Revelator” from the Golden Gate Quartet. What a list.). I'm totally psyched. My favorite band honored as a national treasure by the national library.

Then I read through the Registry's 2005 list and saw a big whopping error in their description of the album. And not a nitpicking, indie music geek kind of thing either (though I would have written a very different description meself, but that's beside the point). They call Daydream Nation the 3rd album from the band, when by the most conservative counts (excluding EP's, bootlegs, and Ciccone Youth), it's their 6th. Isn't this the kind of hard facts that a library's metadata should be able to handle quite easily?

So the geek in me couldn't let it go, and I actually emailed the damn Registry people to tell them about their mistake. Eeek.

Sonic Youth Discography (see Daydream Nation as album #7)
AllMusic.Com > Sonic Youth > Discography (see DN as #6)