Archive for the 'news' Category


RIP Aaron Swartz

The web is awash with tributes to Aaron Swartz. You might remember him as the person persecuted for downloading articles off JSTOR with the intention to make their access free to all.

The charges against Swartz were nothing short of excessive. This link compares the charges that he faced against sentences for crimes such as bank robbery and manslaughter.

Swartz was also suffering from depression, and he took his life on Friday.

Here are some links to some related articles on Swartz’s case.

How the felony count for Swartz’s case was raised from 4 to 13. This article also has a link to Swartz’s indictment: click here

Interestingly enough, it seems that JSTOR had already settled their civil case with Swartz in 2011.

In a response to Swartz’s death, hacker group Anonymous took down the MIT website (Swartz was affiliated with MIT) for a period of time: click here.

Statement from Swartz’s family: click here.

Lawrence Lessig’s post on the prosecutor as bully summarises it all: click here.

Here is a link to Swartz’s manifesto on open access: click here



Explainer: What is Deja Vu? (The Conversation)

Came across an article in The Conversation explaining the phenomenon of deja vu in scientific terms. The concept of the ‘double’ , a significant trope in Gothic literature, shares common ground the concept with deja vu – deja vu comes from French for ‘already seen’. I’m reminded of an anecdote I read years ago about the poet Goethe and how he met his doppelgänger while crossing a road:

As I rode along the footpath to Drusenheim, I was seized by the strangest premonition, namely, I saw myself, not with the eyes of the body, but those of the spirit, coming toward myself on horseback on the same path, and, to be sure, in clothing I had never worn: it was bluish gray with some gold trimming. As soon as I shook myself awake the figure vanished. Yet it is curious the eight years later I found myself on the same path, coming to visit Frederica once more and dressed in the same clothes I had dreamed about, which I was wearing not by choice but by coincidence. (Goethe, Poetry and Truth, Book Eleven, Part III)

“Looking handsome, son!”
“Same to you, bro!

Science so far is unable to provide a clear explanation as to the prevalence of this phenomenon. We are only just beginning to understand how the human brain works, and perhaps in time to come science will be able to shed more light on this phenomena. As far as the literary Gothic is concerned, the double continues to be a pervasive trope that can be traced in many works. Freud’s theory of the uncanny is a staple of Gothic criticism, and in that essay, deja vu is synonymous with the uncanny (unheimlich) effect. An interesting study is Linda Dryden’s monograph The Modern Gothic and Literary Doubles , which devotes itself to an exploration of this concept in the works of Stevenson, Wilde and H.G Wells. In fact, the convention of the double is one that, I would suggest, has almost saturated the genre. And yet, like Romero’s zombies, the trope keeps recurring, again and again throughout fiction and even the genre of film. Perhaps there is something that is intrinsically fascinating about seeing mirrors of ourselves. Perhaps this stems from, as Freud would suggest, a narcissistic preoccupation that stems from repression.

EDIT: On a related note, I just came across a link to an invention that epitomises the term ‘unheimlich’. Check out this link  to have a look at the ‘most horrifying robot baby you will ever meet‘.


Free for all: ARC-funded research now open to the public (The Conversation)

Good news for all. The Australian Research Council has announced the implementation of an open access policy for all research that is funded by the ARC. This is a great move, one that grants the appropriate level of accessibility to publicly funded research. With the interesting research projects that are undertaken at the Centre for the History of Emotions, allowing public access will definitely be a boon to expanding the impact of the Centre’s work.

I’ve always been a proponent of open access publishing. There is no point in imposing barriers to research, particularly when certain scholarly publishers obtain high levels of profit for essentially being middlemen. After all, it is researchers and reviewers who are doing the hard work Researchers and reviewers should, in an ideal situation, actually be remunerated for their contributions to the academic community rather than being taxed for it. These lines make me sound like an idealist, and I have had discussions with others who have differing opinions. But if stripped down to the basics, aren’t we providing a ‘product’ through our research? Logic suggests that we should be paid for our ‘products’ rather than being taxed for it, or having restrictions placed on it.

'horror': Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’.

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