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Library 333: UvA Social Sciences blog by Janneke Staaks and Stefano Giani is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
A couple of months ago I was asked by UvA Associate professor of Political science Imke Harbers whether it would be possible to give the students of her course Cooperation and conflict in Latin America a short presentation on Wikipedia in the broader context of (online) sources reliability, also in the light of the current concern about fake news.
As it usually is the case, when I’m asked to give presentations or workshops on (topics related to) information literacy, I was very glad to honour Imke’s request, since it also gave me an excellent opportunity to deepen my knowledge of Wikipedia, while assessing the relevance of fake news in a less fleeting perspective than the one currently allowed by the ceaseless outpour of (fake) news about fake news. History, hardly surprisingly, being the place where I most often look for a lasting perspective.
I was therefore very happy, and lucky, to work on the presentation together with colleague Wilma van den Brink, Subject librarian at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, who is currently working also for the Information department of the UvA Library and – last but not least – is a historian (her MA-thesis discussed the impact of economic growth on the prostitution market in the Netherlands and specifically the city of Haarlem, 1850-1900).
It was Wilma who first mentioned the infographic made by the IFLA International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions on How to spot fake news. Next to the infographic’s extreme usefulness in any information literacy context (being authority, accuracy, coverage, currency and objectivity important evaluation criteria whatever the source), it is IFLA’s reason for making the infographic that will strongly appeal to any passionate subject librarian or any individual caring about critical thinking as a cardinal feature of a healthy democratic society: «When Oxford Dictionaries announced post-truth was Word of the Year 2016, we as librarians realized action was needed to educate and advocate for critical thinking – a crucial skill when navigating the information society».
What about history then, and its role when it comes to the fleeting shallowness of (fake) news about fake news? Both Wilma and I had a prompt association when thinking of fake news and the issue of evaluating sources in the (distant) past. Hers, from 2001, referred to the unfortunate use of an unreliable letter by then Crown Prince of The Netherlands Willem Alexander to counter the commotion that had arisen from his forthcoming marriage with Máxima Zorreguieta, the daughter of an Argentine politician who had served as minister under dictator Jorge Rafael Videla (left on the photo above, while Zorreguieta is on the right; see the website of the NOS Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation for a brief summary of the ‘affaire’, albeit in Dutch).
My own association – after having briefly considered the Gleiwitz incident that officially led to the outbreak of World War Two (and is actually a case of false flag) – went much further back in the past, with the so-called untori (plague-spreaders), which were believed to smear houses with pestiferous fat in times of plague. Made memorable in the 19th Century by one of Italy’s greatest writers, Alessandro Manzoni, who wrote of 17th Century‘s untori both in his major novel, I promessi sposi (“The betrothed”; chapter 32) and in his passionate historical essay Storia della colonna infame (“The story of the infamous column”), this textbook case of fake news knows an earlier documentary evidence in the late 16th Century edicts promulgated by the Spanish governor in Milan to counter the unrest that such rumours provoked «especially among the people who easily believe such stories’…» (“maggiormente à quei che facilmente si persuadeno à credere tali cose”; translation is mine, from p. 112 of the original I cinque libri degl’avvertimenti, ordini, gride et editti fatti, et osservati in Milano, ne’ tempi sospettosi della peste, available at Google books, see screenshot above).
Happy new year of not easily believed stories!
The following demo aims to help readers print and download (save/mail) the e-books that the UvA-Library purchases at supplier Ebsco (see for example Dreams and nightmares: Immigration policy, youth, and families, or The Corporate criminal: Why corporations must be abolished). Off-campus access is only possible for UvA-student or staff (please see here for more information).
Thanks to an initiative of the Nederlandse Sociologische Vereniging (Dutch Sociological Association), the archives of all major Dutch sociological journals have been digitized by the University of Groningen Library: the digitization has been completed in september. The online archives of the journals are available – open access – on the website of the University of Groningen Press. Here follows an overview of the periodicals: for completeness’ sake, the (online) availability of the latest years (not included in the digitization project) for UvA-staff and -students has been added. All journals are indexed by (and their articles can be found with) Google Scholar.
Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift
Volumes 9 (1982/83) to 14 (1987/88) of the Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift were published under the title Sociologisch Tijdschrift. In 2005, the journal merged with the Sociologische Gids (see below) to form the new journal Sociologie (2005-2010; 2011-current; since 2016 this is an open access journal).
A couple of weeks ago I read John Steinbeck‘s The grapes of wrath. In the very same days I was engrossed in the American writer’s masterpiece while at home, I gave several library instructions at work: one of the issues we addressed during the workshops was the importance of words when searching for literature on a given topic, and how several different words might describe the very same idea or key concept, yet from different points of view (of an individual researcher, a whole academic discipline, or a cultural background). “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of populism?” was the question students were asked to answer in order to consider (once again) words’ variety and the way subject specific terminology, and scholarly databases when available, can help in setting up an effective search strategy.
Which brings me to the way ‘populism’ (which I had intentionally chosen, counting on students’ critical approach to one of the major political issues of our time) and Steinbeck sort of ‘short-circuited’, leading to the idea of this post and the populism-related ‘keywords’ of its title. Here follows Steinbeck’s quote (from chapter 21; several editions of the book are available at the UvA Library), in all its powerful and somehow disturbing topicality (despite being the place and time described the United States of the Great Depression, and ‘Okies’ the derogatory term used in California to describe people from Oklahoma):
«They were migrants. And the hostility changed them, welded them, united them—hostility that made the little towns group and arm as though to repel an invader, squads with pick handles, clerks and storekeepers with shotguns, guarding the world against their own people.
In the West there was panic when the migrants multiplied on the highways. Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry. Men who had never wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the men of the towns and of the soft suburban country gathered to defend themselves; and they reassured themselves that they were good and the invaders bad, as a man must do before he fights. They said, These goddamned Okies are dirty and ignorant. They’re degenerate, sexual maniacs. Those goddamned Okies are thieves. They’ll steal anything. They’ve got no sense of property rights.
And the latter was true, for how can a man without property know the ache of ownership? And the defending people said, They bring disease, they’re filthy. We can’t have them in the schools. They’re strangers. How’d you like to have your sister go out with one of ’em?
The local people whipped themselves into a mold of cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them—armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the country. We can’t let these Okies get out of hand. And the men who were armed did not own the land, but they thought they did. And the clerks who drilled at night owned nothing, and the little storekeepers possessed only a drawerful of debts. But even a debt is something, even a job is something. The clerk thought, I get fifteen dollars a week. S’pose a goddamn Okie would work for twelve? And the little storekeeper thought, How could I compete with a debtless man?
And the migrants streamed in on the highways and their hunger was in their eyes, and their need was in their eyes. They had no argument, no system, nothing but their numbers and their needs. When there was work for a man, ten men fought for it— fought with a low wage. If that fella’ll work for thirty cents, I’ll work for twenty-five. If he’ll take twenty-five, I’ll do it for twenty. No, me, I’m hungry. I’ll work for fifteen. I’ll work for food. The kids. You ought to see them. Little boils, like, comin’ out, an’ they can’t run aroun’. Give ’em some windfall fruit, an’ they bloated up. Me, I’ll work for a little piece of meat.
And this was good, for wages went down and prices stayed up. The great owners were glad and they sent out more handbills to bring more people in. And wages went down and prices stayed up. And pretty soon now we’ll have serfs again».
At the request of several members of the Department of Communication, the Library has purchased a subscription to the World Press Trends database: published by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the database is a major source on the newspaper industry worldwide.
World Press Trends gives access to a wide range of data and figures (from 2006), such as circulation, readership, revenue, advertising expenditure, digital usage, and data for top selling titles in each country. Available to UvA staff and students at http://www.wptdatabase.org/ (if off-campus please check your connection before accessing the database).
Nieuwe mogelijkheden voor open access publiceren
In steeds meer tijdschriften van grote uitgeverijen kunnen onderzoekers zonder aanvullende kosten open access publiceren. Publicaties vrij beschikbaar maken en een groot bereik geven wordt daarmee steeds eenvoudiger. ‘Open up to open access’ luidt dan ook de slogan van een landelijke campagne die de VSNU vandaag start.
De afgelopen twee jaar hebben universiteiten in Nederland met onder andere de uitgevers Springer, Wiley en Elsevier afspraken gemaakt over de bekostiging van open access publiceren. Onlangs nog zijn er deals gesloten met Taylor & Francis, American Chemical Society, Brill, Lippincott en Thieme.
Call to action: Bekijk hier alle financieringsmogelijkheden waarvan UvA-onderzoekers kunnen profiteren.
Inmiddels vallen meer dan 7.000 tijdschriften onder deze ‘big deals’. Daarnaast zijn er andere tijdschriften en universitaire repositories (zoals UvA-DARE) waarin in open access gepubliceerd kan worden, zonder aanvullende kosten. Open access publiceren is daarmee een stuk makkelijker geworden.
Door in open access te publiceren stimuleer je hergebruik van kennis, zowel in de wetenschap als in onderwijs, gezondheidszorg, openbaar bestuur en andere beroepsgroepen. Tevens krijgen burgers dankzij open access kosteloos toegang tot kwalitatief hoogwaardige informatie en worden zij niet met betaalmuren geconfronteerd.
Wil je meer weten over de mogelijkheden van open access publiceren of hulp bij je open access publicatie? Mail naar het open access team van de Universiteitsbibliotheek: email@example.com