Category: Blogging

Tales of Mystery and Pagination – A new blog from Trinity College Dublin Library

Tales of Mystery and Pagination


The Library of Trinity College Dublin dates back to the establishment of the College in 1592, and it is now the largest research library in Ireland. It was endowed with the privilege of legal deposit by the Copyright Act, 1801 and continues to receive copies of material published in the United Kingdom and Ireland, pursuant respectively to the Legal Deposit Libraries Act, 2003 and section 198 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 (also here). The Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections in the Library, located in the East Pavilion of the Old Library, is responsible for some of the oldest and most valuable books in Ireland. The Department of Early Printed Books has just established a most wonderful blog about its work, entitled Tales of Mystery and Pagination. They explain the title as follows:

In a effort to gain a loyal fan-base for our blog we have been inspired by the ever popular Harry Clarke and his contributions to the 1919 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of mystery and imagination. Not content with behaving like a magpie for the blog’s title we have used three examples of Clarke’s work to help illustrate what we hope to be a lively and interesting site for anyone interested in books and libraries. …

The image above is the banner across the top of the Tales of Mystery and Pagination blog, and the Harry Clarke illustrations are the first, third and fifth panels – the second is an image of a spiral staircase in the Old Library and and the fourth is an image of early books in the Old Library. The posts so far cover a wide range topics, including:

It is a sumptuously informative blog: I’d be a regular reader for the content alone, but the images are gorgeous too. Bring on those tales of mystery and pagination – I cannot wait!

Ex tempore: the next word after final appeal

Detail of image of the Four Courts, by Darragh Sherwin on Flickr, featured on Ex TempreIn the internet era, most Supreme Courts worth their salt have attracted high quality dedicated and independent commentary from the blawgosphere. The market leader is probably SCOTUSblog – which, as its name suggests, is a blog about the Supreme Court of the United States – but I also like the charm of Court Artist as well. The Supreme Court of Canada has The Court; the Court of Justice of the European Union has ECJblog; the European Court of Human Rights has Strasbourg Observers; and, right from the off, the UK’s new(ish) Supreme Court has had UKSC blog. Now, the Irish Supreme Court has taken its place amongst this premier league of courts of final appeal.

Paul MacMahon has just started Ex Tempore. He hopes that Ex Tempore will provide a resource for lawyers, academics, law students, and anyone seeking to understand what the Irish Supreme Court does and how it does it. The site provides weekly previews of upcoming cases, keeps watch on relevant High Court developments, and offers commentary on the Court’s decisions. More broadly, Ex Tempore explores the Court’s history, its place in the Irish system of government, and its relationships with other courts. I’m really excited about this development. It’s been a long time coming, and it joins the growing list of ardent and high-quality Irish law blawgs.

At this early stage, three things occur to me. (more…)

Updates: Joyce, hecklers and broadcasting

Updates logo, via Apple websiteI suppose if I spent ages thinking about it, I could find a spurious thread linking three stories that caught my eye over the last few days, but in truth there is none, except that they update matters which I have already discussed on this blog. (Oh, all right then, they’re all about different aspects of freedom of expression: the first shows that copyright should not prevent academic discussion; the second shows that hecklers should not have a veto; and the third is about broadcasting regulation).

First, I had noted the proclivity of the estate of James Joyce to be vigorous in defence of its copyrights; but it lost a recent case and now has agreed to pay quite substantial costs as a consequence:

Joyce estate settles copyright dispute with US academic

The James Joyce Estate has agreed to pay $240,000 (€164,000) in legal costs incurred by an American academic following a long-running copyright dispute between the two sides. The settlement brings to an end a legal saga that pre-dates the publication in 2003 of a controversial biography of Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, written by Stanford University academic Carol Shloss. …

More: ABA Journal | Chronicle | Law.com | San Francisco Chronicle | Slashdot | Stanford CIS (who represented Shloss) esp here | Stanford University News (a long and informative article).

Second, I have long been of the view that hecklers should not be allowed to veto unpopular views, and none come more unpopular that holocaust-denier David Irving. Now comes news that NUI Galway’s Lit & Deb society have withdrawn their controversial invitation to Irving for security reasons:

David Irving address in NUIG cancelled due to ‘security concerns’

The proposed visit of the controversial historian David Irving to the NUI, Galway Literary & Debating Society has been cancelled. In a statement the Lit & Deb said the cancellation was “due to security concerns and restrictions imposed by the university authorities”. …

(more…)

New kids on the block

Fiona de Londras, via UCD law school websiteI’ve just discovered the wonderful new(ish) blog Human Rights in Ireland, a group blog about – well, the clue is in the name – human rights issues in Ireland and Irish scholarship about human rights more generally. With apologies for the nkotb title, I can say without fear of contradiction that there’s lots of great stuff there; one piece in particular caught my eye, by Fiona de Londras (pictured above left):

Terrorist Propaganda or Political Speech?

In Ireland we are quite accustomed to our freedom of expression being significantly limited where that freedom is abused. This results from the express limitations in both Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution) and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. International law also prohibits propaganda to war as our colleague Michael Kearney has explained and examined in detail in his book The Prohibition of Propaganda for War in International Law (2007, OUP). In the United States, however, the constitutional protection of free speech (First Amendment), while not absolute, is certainly broader than is the case in Ireland or indeed under the ECHR. This makes the appeal argument by counsel for Al Hamza Ahmad Suliman al Bahlul—the only person currently in Guantánamo Bay to have been convicted of an offence relating to the ‘War on Terrorism’—all the more interesting. …

If you want to know more about the Irish position on this issue, I’ve blogged about it briefly in a post on Terrorism and Speech as well as in my more general posts on Sedition. If you want to know more about the argument that counsel for al Bahlul is making, read all about it in the remainder of Fiona’s post. Welcome to the Blawg O’Sphere, Human Rights in Ireland – I am certain that you will rapidly establish yourself as the pre-eminent online forum for discussion of human rights issues in Ireland and abroad. Go n-éirí go brea leis an dea-obair!

Journalism and Blogging in the New York Review of Books

New York Review of Books image, via their websiteThere is a wonderful essay by Michael Massing in the current edition of the New York Review of Books about the deepening relationship between print and online journalism. In form, it’s a review of Eric Boehlert Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press | Amazon), which traces the online events that affected the 2008 presidential campaign and reveals the stories of the internet activists who made them all possible, and Bill Wasik And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture (Viking | Amazon), which seeks to demonstrate that the rise of the internet means that our culture is now created from the ground up. Common to both books is the argument that a small online quiver can easily become a massive earthquake in the real world. In fact, Massing’s piece is a fascinating assessment of the state of journalism on the internet, filled with references to all sorts of blogs, but which only tangentially touches on Boehlert’s and Wasik’s book. In that, I suppose, it’s much more like a long blogpost than a traditional book review.

Indeed, Massing’s piece almost resembles a blogpost in another way: the online version has links to many of the online sources referred to in the piece, a practice other publications could adopt, to save me having to add links when I quote paragraphs from newspaper websites – it is this kind of added value that makes online reporting different from the paper kind, and the sooner newspapers realise that the online version is not simply the text of the paper version, the better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that the online version replace the paper version – indeed, I read the paper version of the article first – just that online versions should fulfill their potential. And anyway, the Review’s practice of putting a list of links at the start of the article rather than embedding them in the text only goes half way, so in the extracts below, I’ve still had to add the links.

The core of his argument is in this extract (though the whole thing is well worth reading, even on paper, over a cup of coffee):

The News About the Internet

In an online chat with readers earlier this year, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller deplored the “diminishing supply of quality journalism” at a time of “growing demand.” … Keller’s lament—one of a steady chorus rising from the industry—contains a feature common to many of them: a put-down of the Web and the bloggers who regularly comment on Web sites. …

This image of the Internet as parasite has some foundation. Without the vital news-gathering performed by established institutions, many Web sites would sputter and die. In their sweep and scorn, however, such statements seem as outdated as they are defensive. Over the past few months alone, a remarkable amount of original, exciting, and creative (if also chaotic and maddening) material has appeared on the Internet. The practice of journalism, far from being leeched by the Web, is being reinvented there, with a variety of fascinating experiments in the gathering, presentation, and delivery of news. And unless the editors and executives at our top papers begin to take note, they will hasten their own demise.

Massing traces the history of journalistic blogging from the Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan “snip-it-and-comment approach”, via blogs that not only comment on the news but also break it, to “an emerging new breed of ‘hybrids,’ schooled in both the practices of print journalism and the uses of cyberspace” as well as to online commentators and citizen-journalists (though he uses neither of these terms); the internet offers a podium to those

… of all ages and backgrounds who are flush with ideas but lack the means to transmit them. A good example is Marcy Wheeler, … [who] first began blogging in 2004, gaining notice for her posts on the Valerie Plame leak case; in early 2007 she “liveblogged” the Lewis Libby trial. Later that year, after giving up her consulting job, she began blogging full-time for FireDogLake

“The idea that our work is parasitical is farcical,” Wheeler told me by phone. “There’s a lot of good, original work in the blogosphere. Half of all journalists look at the blogosphere when working on a story.” At the same time, she said, “I’m happy to admit I’m still utterly reliant on journalists …” … “We ought to be talking about a symbiotic rather than a parasitical relationship,” she told me. What disturbs bloggers, she added, are those journalists who reside in “the Village”—shorthand, she said, “for the compliant, unquestioning, conventional wisdom that comes out of Washington. …”.

The blogosphere, by contrast, has proven especially attractive to those who, despite having specialized knowledge about a subject, have little access to the nation’s Op-Ed pages. … Beyond such individual sites, the Web has helped open up entire subjects that were once off-limits to the press. …

But Massing admits that it’s not all roses here in the world of electrons and computer screens; and this allows him a paragraph each on the books putatively under review. First, bloggers often reject the attempts at “balance” that are made by mainstream print publications, though of course

… it’s their willingness to dispense with such conventions that makes the blogosphere a lively and bracing place. This is nowhere more apparent than in the work of Glenn Greenwald. A lawyer and former litigator, Greenwald is a relative newcomer to blogging, having begun only in December 2005, but as Eric Boehlert notes in his well-researched but somewhat breathless Bloggers on the Bus, within six months of his debut he “had ascended to an unofficial leadership position within the blogosphere.” In contrast to the short, punchy posts favored by most bloggers, Greenwald offers a single daily essay of two thousand to three thousand words. In each, he draws on extensive research, amasses a daunting array of facts, and, as Boehlert puts it, builds his case “much like an attorney does.”

Second, Massing quite rightly acknowledges

… some of the more troubling features of the journalism taking shape on the Web. The polemical excesses for which the blogosphere is known remain real. In And Then There’s This, an impressionistic account of the viral culture on the Internet, Bill Wasik describes how “the network of political blogs, through a feedback loop among bloggers and readers,” has produced a machine that supplies the reader with “prefiltered information” supporting his or her own views. According to one study cited by Wasik, 85 percent of blog links were to other blogs of the same political inclination, “with almost no blog showing any particular respect for any blog on the other side.” …

Finally, the Internet remains a hothouse for rumors, distortions, and fabrications. … For all these problems, the Web is currently home to all kinds of intriguing experiments … [which t]aken together … suggest a fundamental change taking place in the world of news.

Massing’s piece offers insights into where this change has come from as well as tantalising glimpses of where it might be going. The key point is that, whilst the world of print journalism may not be dieing, it will need to rejuvenate if it is to thrive. How it responds to that challenge will be interesting. And remember, as it does, please embed those links!

Bonus links: the Review‘s podcast page has a conversation between Manning and Charles Petersen about the rise of blogs and the ascent of online journalism (mp3); and while you’re there, check out Fintan O’Toole‘s gripping interview by Sasha Weiss about the genius and misfortune of Flann O’Brien (mp3).

Cowengate caricatures “didn’t bother” Cowen: why the fuss?

Hot Press cover, via their siteOn the top right hand corner of a cover of Hot Press (pictured left) runs a quote from the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Brian Cowen:

Those paintings didn’t bother me

It is a teaser for a full interview with Jason O’Toole in which Cowen talks about the current economic crisis and his party’s electoral prospects. This is what he said about those paintings:

Do you read any of the political blogs written about you and your government?
No, I don’t. I’ve been too busy trying to do my job.

Do you think the recent controversy over the painting was blown out of proportion?
I made no comment about it at the time. As far as I was concerned, it was obviously a stunt. I know some people thought it wasn’t in great taste, but I just stayed out of it. I have a thick enough political skin at this stage – formed over the 25 years I’ve been in this business – not to be bothered by something like that.

So, just what was all the fuss about?