Saturday, 26 April 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is linguistic whateverism, and thank you to The Economist for this word. The last issue of The Economist included a wonderful supplement, Nomads at last, on mobile telecoms, and it has lots of perceptive and valuable things to say. But its conclusion is uncharacteristically gloomy: As language goes, so does thought. The point being that mobile telecoms have led to a decline in language as it is abbreviated and attenuated in the way we use text.

Quoting Naomi Baron's book, Always On (the ultimate source of this word of the day) the article suggests that "For about 250 years, the consensus in Western societies has been that grammar, syntax and spelling matter, and that rules have to be observed. That consensus now appears to be at risk." If the contemporary digital nomad writes and reads in snippets, does this mean that thinking is reduced to snippets - "which is to say incoherently" - as well? The conclusion of The Economist, as always, is unbeat - there will be a correction, as there always is with technology.

Meanwhile, out in whateverism land, the world wide but often shallow web, the concepts of whateverism, and more specifically its linguistic version, are growing. There are efforts to define the concept. For example David Lundin refers to it this way: "Whateverism is about accepting things as they are, it’s about reaching the point when you realize that you can’t change it, and therefore is not in need of mourning." As an older person who is proud of overcoming early tendencies to unnecesary linguistic pedantry and taking on some linguistic permissiveness, it is nevertheless impossible to be a whateverist. There is a point where linguistic standards are necessary.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Word of the day

Thank you to Rebecca, for wikidemia. This term is used to describe 'an academic work passed off as scholarly yet researched entirely on Wikipedia'. Brilliant, and another triumph for the Urban Dictionary, from which the definition comes.

In the meantime, I'm afraid, the term appears also to have been coined to describe something else. Wikipedia now uses the word wikidemia to refer to a project which is "a space for articles related to academic research about Wikipedia." In all, 42 people have signed up as members of this project since it began in December 2004, or about one a month. I suspect that the number of wikidemics, in the sense of the first definition above, massively outnumbers the genuinely academic 42 - although you can't tell who they are, because most use netonyms.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is from Dana, who refers to Open Reading Frame, Bill Hooker's blog. Commenting on a blog post by Gavin Baker (to Open Access News), he says: "I realise that netonyms have been passé among the hipsterati for some time . . ." and makes some comments about the use of pseudonyms on the internet.

But which is the word of the day? Definitely netonym I think. It is certainly a new coinage, and there are few uses of it online so far. It is also a word which we can use - Langmaker defines it as an online identity or handle, constructed from internet and pseudonym. Dana might have used it in her own post on net pseudonymity, or not.

The Urban Dictionary defines hipsterati, which is pretty much as you would expect. Curiously, the definition also includes an unrelated picture of Vegemite - click on that, and find fifteen definitions, some funnier than others, as well as the full text of the Vegemite song.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Copyright, CAUL, Cadets and Citations

This has been a busy week.

The ALIA Education and Workforce Summit was held on 28 March in Melbourne, and I'll provide more information next week. Some of the outcomes included the need to focus on strategies for recruiting to the library sector, the need for university educators to meet together and the need for employers and educators to meet together.

The first post-Mullarvey Universities Australia (UA) meeting for copyright officers was held last Monday, in the shadow of John Mullarvey (the former chief executive), as we discussed the new agreement signed with the Copyright Agency Ltd at the end of 2007. The substantial interest in the cost of the deal enhanced interest and engagement with the issue, to put matters politely. I am a member of the four-person expert group set up by UA to think about the next agreement, in 2010.

Research metrics and nice research databases are one thing all Australian universities are thinking about; Swinburne is convening a group looking at integration of repository data with research data. On Tuesday we had a chat to colleagues from the University of New South Wales and the University of Newcastle on how we could achieve some better consistency in the forms of names of researchers. Others are interested in these issues - usual suspects like Thomson Scientific (producers of the Web of Knowledge database) and Elsevier (Scopus), as well as the National Library's People Australia program, currently in planning.

Thomson Scientific held another of their citation awards sessions, along with a Research Day, at the National Press Club on Wednesday, followed by a widely-reported address by Alan Robson, president of the Group of Eight universities.

CAUL is always interesting and worthwhile, because university libraries are very similar to each other, and the meeting is an opportunity for the rest of us to learn from those of the 47 (New Zealand is included) who are out ahead. Just a matter of finding them. CAUL met in Sydney on Thursday and Friday, and its papers are available online in great detail. There was heaps of interest - for example, a great presentation from Felicity McGregor on the Wollongong library cadet program for new graduates.

No blogs this week either - I'm heading off to the woods and water to walk around a bit. I'll give alliteration a rest, among other things.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is point-virgule - OK, its really semicolon, but in deference to the efforts of the French to defend it, we have used their word. The Australian reported on April 4 on a campaign to save the semicolon from extinction "because the media, authors and the French people no longer understand its use." An April Fool's Day joke reported that President Nicolas Sarkozy had created a government commission to save the semicolon, and that in future the mark would have to be used at least three times in all official correspondence. The joke appeared on the French news website Rue89. According to the reporter for Rue89, the President had entrusted a government MP, Benoist Apparu, with the task of saving the point-virgule; the plight of the semicolon was attributed to the spread in France of English styles and habits of expression.

You can read all about the semicolon, as always, in the Wikipedia. For those inclined to use longer sentences, the semicolon is indispensable. For others, essential.

The hidden issue is, of course, how to spell semicolon. I have adopted the style used by The Australian, but of course the hyphenated form semi-colon is also possible in English, as in French.