Taiwanese Publisher Who Printed My Dissertation Ruined by Inferno

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I was sad to learn that Zonghe Zhuangding, Ltd., the publisher who worked with Y’s father to print an exquisite hardcover edition of my PhD dissertation, “Brains, Minds, and Computers in Literary and Science Fiction Neuronarratives,” shuttered their business after their shop burned down. Zonghe Zhuangding provided printing and book binding services for publishers in Taiwan until the fire consumed their entire facility.

Y’s father insisted that we publish my dissertation after I defended it in 2012. Zonghe Zhuangding did an amazing job printing the book-version of my dissertation, which I had to layout with opposing running headers and other book-design features. The gold-typeface on the cover and spine look very impressive. And, the stitched-in red ribbon bookmark was a surprise bonus (see below).

After Y defended her dissertation last year, her father had her dissertation printed there, too.

N.B.: In Chinese, zhuangding means binding or book binding.

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City Tech Science Fiction Collection Inventory

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L to R: Jason Ellis, Lavelle Porter, and Jessica Roman

Over the past three days, I worked with my City Tech colleagues–Laura Westengard, Lavelle Porter, and Lucas Kwong–and student–Jessica Roman–to inventory the City Tech Science Fiction Collection. Two years ago, I began the collection’s finding aid by cataloging the 4,000+ magazines. Last year, I inventoried the collection’s nearly 1,700 monographs and anthologies. This year, we are creating an inventory of the remaining parts of the collection: scholarly journals and novels. Read details of our progress on the Science Fiction at City Tech OpenLab site here.

Retrocomputing at City Tech

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In addition to working on a book review today, I created a new OpenLab site for Retrocomputing at City Tech. In addition to recording how I use vintage computers in the classroom and in research, the new OpenLab site contains a catalog of my vintage computing archive. I populated this catalog with most of the hardware, but I plan to granulize it further and create a catalog of my software. This, of course, will take time. At least there is a place for me to record these things now within the auspices of the work that I do at City Tech. I updated my previous Retrocomputing Lab page on this site with a link to the updated site on OpenLab.

Social Disconnection II: Deleting My Twitter and Reddit Accounts

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@dynamicsubspace before

Back in 2013 and after long deliberation, I deleted my Facebook, Google+, and Academia.edu accounts. Then, I deleted my Flickr/Yahoo and LinkedIn accounts. Now, I’ve wiped out my Twitter and Reddit accounts.

I used Twitter for seven-and-a-half years and had posted nearly 10,000 tweets (this number ebbed after cleaning up a hoard of past tweets). And I had a Reddit account for four years, and I had a healthy number of upvotes for my LEGO-related posts and discussions there.

I leveraged my Twitter and Reddit accounts to keep up with what’s going on in my profession as well as learn and contribute to other areas of interest including computer culture and LEGO. However, my cost for keeping up to date was considerable in terms of time and cognitive effort. And while I saw, read, and learned a lot from the work of social media, actionable returns–what I think of as a meaningful returns in terms of conversation, connections, and opportunities–were very small.

Ultimately, my decision to further reduce my social media footprint was based on these issues:

  • Cost (time, attention, and cognitive load)
  • Content (anxiety over posting, persistent needle-in-the-haystack problem for finding useful information)
  • Discourse (challenge to follow threads, gain background information for out-of-context posts, rage cycles, hot takes, fear of missing out)
  • Connection (so many discussions but uncertain where to contribute, sustaining conversation, social media not leading to projects outside of that realm)
  • People (nonsense, bullshit, bigotry, and sexism; e.g., disheartening cases of disconnection between how some users comport in online LEGO communities and elsewhere)

Of course, there are arguments for remaining on social media, such as maintaining a professional presence on these platforms, publicizing the work that you and others do, discovering new and compelling work that isn’t amplified elsewhere, and leveraging social media to expand discourse through discussion, debate, and public engagement. For me, however, the daily reality of these platforms do not live up to the promise or potential with which they are often sold to end users.

My choices and these issues will inform how I approach social media in my classes. The reality for many of my students–especially those entering the field of technical communication–will need and rely on various social media platforms for their professional work and advancement. I think that informed, strategic, and purposeful social media choices are the best for them and others. I’m looking forward to these upcoming discussions in the classroom.

For now, I’m going to remain blogging here at dynamicsubspace.net and posting videos on my YouTube channel.

If you’d like to trim your social media presence, Wired has a guide for deleting the most popular social media accountsThese instructions show how to deactivate your Twitter account. After 30 days of inactivity, your account and its content are deleted. And, these instructions tell you how to delete your Reddit account. One caveat: Your posts and comments will remain unless you take steps to remove or edit them. In my case, I manually deleted them, but there are automated approaches, such as Shreddit and Nuke Reddit History for Firefox or Chrome.

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@dynamicsubspace after

Harlan Ellison

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Harlan Ellison died today.

I was fortunate to have met him at Dragon*Con ’99 in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite his public controversies and cultivated abrasiveness, he demonstrated there how invested he was in his fans throughout the convention–at his readings, signings, and public performances (the Atlanta Radio Theater Company’s on-stage production of Heinlein’s “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants” with Anthony Daniels and introduced by Ray Bradbury).

I took the photo above while he was signing one of his collections for me. After his talk and before his signing, he vowed that no fans would be turned away and all would have a chance to talk and receive autographs. I thought that he was crazy considering how many people were there for him. Nevertheless, he was true to his word.

My Review of Henry Wessells’ A Conversation Larger Than the Universe Book Exhibit, Published at the Science Fiction Foundation

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The Science Fiction Foundation recently published my review of A Conversation Larger Than the Universe: Science Fiction and the Literature of the Fantastic from the Collection of Henry Wessells. The exhibit, held at The Grolier Club in New York City from Jan. 2018 through 10 Mar. 2018 offered a very interesting afternoon’s exploration of one reader’s impressive collection of books, autographs, and ephemera. While I hope that you will click through to read the full review, I include my conclusion below and a separate link to the photos that I took at the exhibition, which might be of interest to those folks who were unable to attend the short-lived display.

Personal collections tend to say more about their collectors than anything else. While the totality of the items in the collection (with the exhibit being a curated selection from the larger collection) provides one kind of map and history of the fantastic, it ultimately expresses the logic and lived experience of its collector. Wessells explains: ‘I collect by synecdoche, meiosis, and metonymy, as well as by inclination, and by ties of friendship’, and ‘My interests as a reader have often led me away from the canonical to the uncertain edges of the fantastic. Along the boundaries is often where distinctions are sharpest, where science fiction is not so much a place you get to as it is the way you went’. Wessells’s exhibited collection is as admirable as it is interesting to experience, a path off the busy Manhattan streets and into other, imagined worlds.

Read my full review here and browse photos of the exhibit here.

Sorting LEGO from a Stoop Sale

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Y and I were surprised when our regular postman Henry rang the doorbell today, because we weren’t expecting to sign for anything today. When I got downstairs, he told me, “Jason, just the man I wanted to see! Mr. M a few blocks away is selling LEGO bricks by the pound. He’s closing at 3:00pm, so you better go if you’re interested.” After thanking him for the heads-up and taking our mail back upstairs, I walked through the sweltering heat to find Mr. M’s place. After finding the right stoop sale, I learned that Mr. M’s son was selling the LEGO to finance a new gaming computer. While talking with them about LEGO, I sorted through the large storage container of LEGO, which was full of bricks on offer by the pound. I was picking bricks while thinking about my Millennium Falcon build that I’m planning. As the sweat rolled down my forehead into my eyes, I thought it might be better to make an offer for the whole container. Happily, Mr. M’s son accepted my offer after pulling some of favorites out that he didn’t want to part with (pun intended). Now that I’m back home, Y and I have been sorting through the container. Mose helped, too.