Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Twitter Versus Listserv Smackdown: Listserv Wins!

I feel I’ve been living and breathing SSRN for weeks now, working to get our school’s RPS up and running. And today I needed to tweak a faculty paper one last time, hopefully. But I kept getting an error message when I tried to log in, and not just the message you get when you screw up your user name and password.

Here’s the capture of what I kept getting:

error message when SSRN log-in was down

So it looks like something serious is down on their end. This kept happening for about five minutes, so I e-mailed our faculty asking anyone with an account to try to log on and, yes, one person reported back right away that they were getting the same error message.

I thought that maybe it’s just a local problem - doubtful since that was the only web page giving us problems, but who knows. So, to see if anyone else around the country was having similar problems, I thought SURELY with all the amazing web 2.0 and social media tools at my disposal, I could instantly tap into my pool of colleagues around the country. So I go on Twitter:

Tweeting against the breeze
And post those three messages (which you have to read from bottom to top). Nothing. I am, of course, simultaneously e-mailing my contact at SSRN and asking the two professors here to make screen captures of their error messages. But I also post a message on the ALL-SIS listserv and within minutes I have two messages from people saying they aren’t having any problems like I am. Then when I try to log in again, no error message. A later follow-up from my SSRN contact:
e-mail from SSRN

confirms that it was a problem on their end, though it looks like it was just a brief glitch and I happened to be one of the few people to run into it.

The point is: as revolutionary as many people say Twitter is, and as useful as it can be in some situations, in this case a listserv, a 20+ year old technology, kicked its ass. Eventually all I got were exactly two responses from Twitter, both from @ssrn, and both of which were pretty useless. The first one:

Useless SSRN Tweet Number One
was useless because I WASN’T FOLLOWING SSRN and other users do NOT see @user responses you send to them if they are NOT already following you (and I’m following them now, which is why I was able to make that screen capture).

The second one was just a useless shout-out from them to, I guess, everyone who had used #ssrn in a tweet recently:

Useless SSRN Tweet Number One
Realistically, what this probably demonstrates is that there are, what, 1200+ law librarians on ALL-SIS, and probably not many more than 245 on Twitter, since I think I’ve found and am following everyone identifying them selves as a librarian at a law library, no mater where, what type, or what they do. If so, do we blame the librarians for being slow adapters? No, its been mainstream for, what, at least two to three years. Instead, I think we blame Twitter for not being as useful for our routine daily communication needs as some people hyped it up to be.

Now what Twitter is really useful for is stuff like this:

Mark Ingram is Eating the Best Steak in New Orleans

Mmmmm...steak. Wonder where he is? Dickie Brennans’s? The Ember’s? Crescent City Steak House?

Speaking of Ingram, now that it looks like Alabama will face LSU in the BCS Champsionship/Brawl for it All Round II, I have GOT to get a Bama jersey with his number on it.

(Oh, and if there was a real, worthwhile, final point here, I’ve long since forgotten what it was.)

Full blog post...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wife's Fundraising Letter from Bush II

My wife got a fundraising letter from the George W. Bush Presidential Library foundation, group, flunkies, whoever:
George W. Bush Presidential Library Fundraising Letter

They are wasting their money on whatever marketing firm got a list of potential donors with her name on it. I haven't laughed so hard since I got a membership invitation from the ACLU.
Full blog post...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Catholic University School of Law Cheating at SSRN

While browsing SSRN recently, I was looking at the most recent issues of various school's Research Paper Series (“RPS”). These are the e-mails with abstracts of recent faculty articles and such with links back to the text of those article at SSRN, which they send out on behalf of law schools (and other institutions) when you have an RPS account with SSRN. The general idea is that it’s a great way to highlight your faculty's recent scholarship and let other folks know how brilliant all your professors are.

So I was a bit perplexed that Catholic University’s most recent RPS consisted entirely of articles that are at least ten years old, with four of the five of them from either 1995 or 1996. They can, of course, do whatever they want with SSRN and their RPS, and a lot of schools are indeed uploading their back catalog of faculty scholarship onto SSRN, but the whole idea, generally, of these RPSs is to highlight recent scholarship and so I, and, I think, many other people familiar with SSRN, would consider fleshing out your RPSs with articles from the 1990s as very bad form.

SSRN doesn’t archive school’s RPSs, so here’s a PDF capture of this one:

And here are screen captures from this issue of their RPS; first, the top of it, showing that it is indeed from this past September:

Image Hosted by

And here is article 1, from 2000:

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law cheats at solitaire and SSRN

Articles 2 through 4, all from 1996:

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law cheats at solitaire and SSRN

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law cheats at solitaire and SSRN

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law cheats at solitaire and SSRN
And article 5, from 1995 (the year I started library school):

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law cheats at solitaire and SSRN
This is dubious at best, dishonest at worst, but its like cheating at solitaire: few people will even know because few people actually read these RPSs, and fewer people read my blog.

Full blog post...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Birthday to the Marine Corps!

In my fourth annual traditional United States Marine Corps birthday celebration, here is this year's Marine Corps joke, found in the humor section of MarineDevilDog.Com (a determinedly state-of-the-art-as-of-1998 web site!):
A crusty old Marine Corps Colonel found himself at a gala event downtown, hosted by a local liberal arts college. There was no shortage of extremely young, idealistic ladies in attendance, one of whom approached the colonel for conversation.

She said, "Excuse me, sir, but you seem to be a very serious man. Are you this way all the time, or is something bothering you?"

"No," the colonel said, "I'm just serious by nature."

The young lady looked at his awards and decorations and said, "It looks like you have seen a lot of action."

The colonel's short reply was "Yep, a lot of action."

The young lady, tiring of trying to start up a conversation, said, "You know, you should lighten up a little - relax and enjoy yourself."

The colonel just stared at her in his serious manner.

Finally the young lady said, "You know, l hope you don't take this the wrong way, but when is the last time you had sex?"

The colonel looked at her and replied, "1955."

She said, "Well, there you go; you really need to chill out and quit taking everything so seriously - I mean, no sex since 1955, isn't that a little extreme?"

The colonel, glancing at his watch, said in his matter-of-fact voice, "Oh, I don't know. It's only 2130 now!"
Semper Fi!!! (And if you don't get it...)
Full blog post...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Worst Academic Press Catalog Cover Image Ever

So there I was, looking for publisher information about a certain book a professor thought was representative of the type of academic press where he might try to place the book he is working on, when I’m confronted with what may be the worst choice ever for a book catalog cover (image after jump):

Patricia Piccinini - The Long Awaited, Vanderbilt University Press Catalog Cover Fall and Winter 2011-2012

What the hell is that thing? I’m going to have nightmares for weeks. Turns out its from the cover of Fairy Tales, Monsters, and the Genetic Imagination and - Oh my God! its not just an illustration, but a sculpture from the exhibit for which this book serves as a catalog. The artist is Patrician Piccinini and that specific work is here.

The giant mutant sea lion thing is weird enough, but some of her other work, conveniently listed here on another site, is even more disturbing. But the more you look at it, the more compelling the pieces are.

Still, a strange choice for the Vandy press catalog cover. Why couldn’t they have used this cover image instead:

Embodied Resistance: Challenging the Norms, Breaking the Rules

From the description:
Embodied Resistance engages the rich and complex range of society's contemporary "body outlaws"--people from many social locations who violate norms about the private, the repellent, or the forbidden. This collection ventures beyond the conventional focus on the "disciplined body" and instead, examines conformity from the perspective of resisters. By balancing accessibly written original ethnographic research with personal narratives, Embodied Resistance provides a window into the everyday lives of those who defy or violate socially constructed body rules and conventions.
That’s actually a book I would want to read.

Full blog post...