The System Worked 03/18/2008
It seems to have worked, anyway. There's a story about the end of L'affair de Open Access on today's Chronicle of Higher Education website. Everything seems to have been handled quickly, through channels, though of course I'd like to think that the e-mails and blogs about it helped nudge Iowa's administration along a little bit.
Is It Over? 03/17/2008
The tempest over Iowa's policy for open access to graduate theses may be over. Thisbe Nissen (who's been alerting everybody via e-mail about all this for the past week) has forwarded an e-mail from Iowa's provost (who has the wonderful name of Lola Lopes) that should calm the waters. Calms mine, anyway, at least for now. The e-mail includes the following official statement from the provost:
A Letter to President Sally Mason 03/15/2008
Dear President Mason,
The Latest on Iowa from McLeod and Glass 03/15/2008
Kembrew McLeod and Loren Glass have sent out updates on the results of their meetings with the administration at Iowa about the open access policy for graduate theses. You can read them in their entirety below.
More Thoughts on a Brouhaha 03/14/2008
The Thrilla in Manila about the University of Iowa's open access policy continues in the blogosphere, and there's even a bit of backlash against those of us who think it's a bad idea, at least for creative theses. Some folks are using it to beat the usual dead horses, namely that real writers don't come out of the Iowa Writers' Workshop—real writers, apparently, write their books on the dole or while working as a night watchman or when they're not running with the bulls at Pamplona—or that since the majority of poets and even most fiction writers make very little money, if any, off their work, they should be grateful somebody wants to distribute it for free. You can read both of these arguments here, profferred by, of all people, an MFA grad and English professor at Eastern Michigan University. (Solidarity forever, dude!)
The Brouhaha in Iowa 03/14/2008
Okay, so it doesn't have the same ring as "the thrilla in Manila," but it'll do. The University of Iowa's ill-considered (by which I mean, bone-headed) decision to digitize and post on the Internet the entire contents of the theses of their graduating students is causing a mini-firestorm in the blogosphere and beyond. You can read about in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Huffington Post, as well as in blogs by Seth Abramson (a student poet at Iowa who is also—worse luck for the university—a lawyer) and my former student at Iowa, Sugi. And you can read what I've already said about it by scrolling down or by going here and here. Kembrew McLeod, the good professor of communications at Iowa who, along with Loren Glass, is fighting this new policy, has written a couple of posts about it, which you can read here and here.
Good News/Bad News from Iowa 03/12/2008
Kembrew McLeod has sent out this update on the University of Iowa's plan, in partnership with Google, to scan all of the university's dissertations, including creative ones, and make their full content available for free on the Internet. Turns out there's good news and bad news.
A Google Alert 03/11/2008
Here's something alarming, at least for writers who graduated (like I did) from one of the various University of Iowa writing programs: like a lot of universities, Iowa has cut a deal with Google to publish online, for free, the contents of all its dissertations. Starting this semester, all graduate students who are writing dissertations or theses are going to be required to sign away permission to post their work, in its entirety, on the Internet, through Google's ad-driven Print program. Right now this applies only to new graduates, who are required to sign off on a form when they submit the first drafts of their theses. (This is a process known to grad students everywhere as "first submission," which has a kind of ominous ring to it now, under the circumstances.) But apparently the plan is to publish all the theses in the Iowa library eventually, including the work of everyone who ever graduated from the Writers' Workshop. You can read all about it in an open letter from Kembrew McLeod, an associate professor of communication studies at Iowa, who has kindly given me permission to post it.
In which I mostly write about books, movies, and TV. An all-purpose spoiler alert: Sometimes I will talk about these works on the assumption that the reader's already read or seen them, so if you haven't, be forewarned.
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