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Posts by Michael Winter

Meeting of opposites

November 19th, 2014 by Michael Winter

If you’ve every wondered how it could be that “being” and “nothingness” are actually two different words for the same thing–however opposite they may seem–you can shed light on this and many other puzzles by watching a You Tube clip about the work behind the Oxford English Dictionary.  (Hint: it’s clearly illustrated by the concept of a doughnut hole).  And for links to a number of additional clips offering behind-the-scenes looks at how the OED is produced, click here.

Important new book on higher education: what is crucial?

August 27th, 2014 by Michael Winter

In a recent blog entry I called attention to UC President Janet Napolitano’s insightful take on the role of online services in research university education today. A recent addition to the library’s collections, currently on the new book shelf on the first floor of Shields near the picture window overlooking the Main Quad, both confirms and extends her analysis, by focussing on the question, what are major factors in a successful higher education experience?  (This new item is also available in digital format). Turns out, it isn’t the technology you choose to deliver the services, it’s whether or not you can create and sustain the kinds of conditions that favor the achievement motive and the desire to learn.  These conditions aren’t necessarily unrelated to available technologies, but they have mainly to do with bringing people together in the kinds of environments that stimulate them to learn. Too often, one-sided discussions about the alleged panaceas of online learning ignore this question entirely, and focus on the fact digital platforms can offer increasingly wide ranges of content.

Janet Napolitano on Online Courses in Higher Ed

July 30th, 2014 by Michael Winter

For some thoughtful and very incisive observations on onine education in the research university, read about or watch UC President Janet Napolitano’s recent policy address on this issue.

Why Bother to Learn Foreign Languages?

July 24th, 2014 by Michael Winter

As the fashionable cant of the day has it, who needs foreign languages?–the kind of sentiments by which we know and love such towering intellects as Lawrence Summers and too many others to mention. All the essentially insightful counterarguments to the contrary–national security, globalization, improving diplomatic relations, working with crucial trading partners, etc–a recent article on the subject kind of hit the nail on the head by observing that “Maybe it’s less about knowing how to conjugate verbs, and more about just not being an asshole.”

Formal ontologies in the Digital Humanities

June 27th, 2014 by Michael Winter

For an excellent–and remarkably clear–discussion of how formal hierarchical semantic modelling can be applied to the subject domain of philosophy, interested readers should take a look at a recent paper by Colin Allen and the InPho group at Indiana University: “Cross-Cutting Categorization Schemes in the Digital Humanities,” ISIS 104, 3 (September 2013): 573-583; DOI: 10.1086/673276. For a sense of what a sample end-product model might look like, see  especially Fig. 1 on p. 582, which presents a representational map that depicts the similarities and differences in how the German philosopher Immanuel Kant is treated in two different domain-specific encyclopedias.

Ebook Sales Growth Slowing Greatly

June 26th, 2014 by Michael Winter

From a recent article: “Say goodbye to the go-go years of fast-paced ebook growth — at least for now. Ebook growth, once in the triple and double digits, with no signs of abating, has slowed to a crawl in 2013,” writes Jeremy Greenfield in the trade publication dbw/Digital Book World. Nonetheless,  Greenfield added, ebooks, while not currently hot commodities, are still warm; and according to the same article–based on numbers from the Association of American Publishers–“now account for a larger percentage of overall publisher revenues than they ever have.” Ebooks now account for about 27% of adult trade sales.  The same phenomenon has also recently been noted by industry standard, PW/Publishers Weekly.

Google Translate Gets Big Laughs

June 25th, 2014 by Michael Winter

Google Translate can prove useful–but watch out for hilarious, unintentionally absurd renderings.Try out a few phrases and see what you think.  For example, I entered a German language sentence containing the name of a friend—Hanno Kaiser–and it gave me “Hanno Emperor.”  And by way of Englishing the well-known French language phrase “Tu sais meme pas a quoi s’en tenir,” it gives “You know what has not even stick.”

New Book on Georges Canguilhem

June 24th, 2014 by Michael Winter

Nowdays Canguilhem is probably better known as Michel Foucault’s mentor, but in his day he was a major French philosopher and historian of science, as this collection of articles reveals. For the basic bibliographic description and more information about the library’s copy, check the Harvest library catalog record.  The cover art is a reproduction of a painting by Maurice Matieu that is based on some lines from Henri Michaux.

Richard N. Schwab Papers

June 22nd, 2014 by Michael Winter

Richard N. Schwab taught in the history department at UC, Davis. The two linear feet of papers he donated to the Shields Library Department of Special Collections relate specifically to his lifelong work on the French Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert–or, as it is more formally known, Encyclopedie, ou Dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers, which appeared in fascicles and then eventually as bound volumes between 1751 and 1765. Special Collections also owns an original 17 volume edition of this work, along with the numerous supplementary volumes of engraved illustrations/plates accompanying the text, as well as  other supplementary material issued along with the original text and plates.

Schwab’s contributions to the study of the Encyclopedie and indeed the study of the Enlightenment more generally are much too numerous to mention here, though it should be noted that he produced the English translation of the Preliminary discourse to the Encyclopedia contributed by D’Alembert.  A number of years ago Professor Schwab also began a fruitful collaboration with the University of Chicago and the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and participated in the eventual issue of a digital version of this landmark reference work.

Marx’s major Work in Slides

May 21st, 2014 by Michael Winter

For an innovative approach to the understanding of Marx’s Capital, UC Davis library users should take a look at PolyLuxMarx: A Capital Workbook in Slides,  a recent addition to the collection.  A subset of these slides and other material supporting an understanding of the work of Marx and Engels in the production of their masterwork, can also be viewed and downloaded, in English, German, and Spanish.