Monday, September 19, 2011

Goodbye, Borders: Expansions in Digital Reading

Earlier this week, I ran into two interesting articles. The first, featured on CBCNews, dealt with a possible expansion of Amazon's current online book services to include Netflix-style book rentals for annual fees. The second was an NPR article detailing several reasons the Borders chain failed (as a bookstore fanatic, I'm still coming to terms with this).

Here are the links for both:

I found these articles thought-provoking because they both relate to the growth and development of the ereader industry, a topic that I often reflect on as a student, reader, and aspiring writer. There's a part of me that saw the collapse of my favorite bookstore and irrationally labeled digital reading as an evil trend that would eventually conquer books for good, forcing me to stare at bright, tiny screens for the rest of my life and never find joy in reading again. The other part of me, though, feels the strain of carrying my textbooks around campus and recognizes the practicality of ereaders.

I've seen avid readers swear that they would never pick up a Nook or a Kindle, only to find themselves fiddling with ereaders in bookstores or falling in love with one that they receive as a gift. In reading-intensive seminar courses, you're likely to see an equal division between digital media (laptops, ereaders, even smart phones) and physical textbooks.

This is the inevitable progression of the literary world; books, after all, couldn't remain immune to technological advancement forever. The ereader industry is a fascinating thing to follow. Libraries around the world are integrating online systems for ebooks, and an entire niche of the publishing world has opened up, offering writers the chance to publish work electronically that traditional publishing houses might have rejected.

I'm interested to hear what Honors students think about the subject. Are you a die-hard fan of digital reading? Do you think ereaders the downfall of literature? Feel free to share an opinion.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wisconsin Police Union Announces Solidarity

This is so amazing to me. People with conscience standing up for what's right and making a difference. This just shows me that we all really can do something big if we listen to our own selves.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Watching the Middle East

A lot of attention has been put on the Middle East recently with the many protests occurring throughout the region. The resignation of President Mubarak in Egypt has been greeted with enthusiastic expectations of democracy in Egypt, and the spreading of democratic sentiments to nearby nations. The expectation should be hedged, however, with the understanding that the Middle East has a long road ahead, for better or worse.

Political scientists have long identified transitions from authoritarian rule to democracy to be one of the most dangerous situations for a country to find itself in. Consider, for instance, the many different groups within the country that are used to a high degree of power. In Egypt the military now has control of the country, and while they have stated that they will soon hold elections, we should understand that military regimes rarely, if ever, hand over power once they have gained it. Even if they do, creating democracy is a very arduous process that frequently requires outside monitoring by international parties. Libya faces an even worse situation, with a dictator who has demonstrated clearly his intentions to stay in power as long as he can. Should the protests continue there is little doubt that Libya will descend into civil war.

These are all very pressing concerns for America, given our national interests in the Middle East. Iraq, still unstable from recent years of turmoil is in a very delicate situation that could easily be upset should the violence spread. My final thought is that we should approach this situation cautiously, understanding that even if true democracy is finally arriving in the Middle East, it's still a long ways from over.

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Annual Registration Party


Late the night of the 28th, students gathered in the Honors Forum to register for their spring classes. They were all going to be up late anyway, waiting for 12:01 exactly, hoping the powers that be didn't decide to apply an update to Banner at the exact wrong time. So why not have a party?


HSAC hosted the event and had treats for sale. And even though the steely resolve was obvious in everyone, so was the late hour after a Thanksgiving break. I had imagined that as midnight neared, the crowd would become loud and agitated, sort of like New Years Eve at Times Square. But the mood was calm, and as 12:01 struck, I hardly noticed. Everyone was simply at work.


For most, those were a few good minutes that set them up for the spring semester. Overall the mood was jubilant.


Okay, maybe that one was a little posed. Not my idea though, I promise.

Unfortunately, for some 12:01 was the time when they found out they had a hold of one sort or another on their account, and they would be unable to register for classes that evening. Since most of UNM isn't open when registration begins, there's no one to remove that hold until the morning.

For many classes, this isn't such a big deal since the next group of students isn't eligible until the following week, but for those popular Honors classes, those first five (if not two) minutes are key. Even among those without problems that night, a frequently heard piece of advice was to sign up for the Honors class first because the few seconds elapsing between successive page refreshes would mean the difference between a seat and the waiting list.


All in all, I'd say the night was a success. Look for the registration party again next semester!



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wireless in Honors

For those of you trying to find the inter-tron through one of our X-women at the back of Honors (think rooms 8,9, 12), things may have just gotten a little better. We've moved the routers to some better ports, and no you should be able to find Jubilee from those locations.

Happy Surfing

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Post-Election Thoughts

The Election is over, and it looks like the GOP has taken back the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. I know that many Republican supporters are very excited about this, but I would just like to add in a few thoughts about the next few years. First off, given that the Democrats still control (an albeit tiny) majority in the Senate, this means that Republicans will need to attempt at least a little bipartisanship if they wish to pass any real legislation. This means compromise. And as for those big pieces of legislation they've been talking about, namely repealing the Health Care Bill, I have just one word: veto. Basically, in order for the Republicans to get rid of the Health Care Bill, they would have to pass another Bill essentially canceling the first one out. And in order to do this, they would need not only cooperation from the Democrats, but the signature of the President.

I'm sure we can all imagine what Obama's reaction would be to an attempt to get rid of his prize piece of legislation.

On the flip side, the Democrats won't be able to get anything through that the Republicans don't like either. So what this means is that for at least the next two years, we're likely to see a whole lot of nothing coming out of Congress. Just food for thought.