Link Roundup: A Bar Fight and a Wikipedia Edit War

1. Literary agent Nathan Bransford asks writers if they’d keep writing if they knew they’d never, ever be published, thanks to the services of a psychic. There are 195 responses, with a great many people insisting that the hypothetical psychic is just wrong.

2. A New Jersey judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by literary agent Barbara Bauer against Wikipedia after unkind comments about her appeared on her entry. The entry, since deleted, pointed out that she’d appeared on the Science Fiction Writers of America’s “twenty worst literary agencies” listing as a result of regular complaints about her. As a factually-accurate statement—she did appear on the list—it’s not particularly good grounds for a lawsuit, but it was Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that came to Wikipedia’s rescue.

3. The latest installment of the Poetry Foundation’s “Poetry Off the Shelf”, an NPR podcast, features an interview with poet Richard Tayson about the time he got in a bar fight over Walt Whitman’s sexuality. Tayson wrote about the run-in in our all-Whitman Spring 2005 issue.

4. The Brits are becoming increasingly alarmed about UT Austin buying up all of their writers’ archives. The university’s Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities has famously deep pockets, thanks to oil deposits under the university, and they’re able to outbid just about anybody to expand their collection. That’s leaving England’s literary heritage sitting in boxes in a warehouse 7,000 miles away, and the Ransom Center has no intention of making any of their collection available electronically:

[Director Tom] Staley’s conservatism extends beyond his literary taste. He does not want to place the Ransom’s archives online. He believes, quoting Matthew Arnold, that “the object as in itself it really is” can never be replaced by a digital reproduction. “Smell this,” he told me one time when I was in his office, as he picked up a manuscript box from the Edwardian British publisher Cecil Palmer. We inhaled the scent: tobacco, mold, dust. “See, there’s information in the smell, too,” he said.

Those with diminished olfactory senses need not apply for access to the archives. (Via Inside Higher Ed)

Share —
Published: July 16, 2008