Hypothesis: journalists breathlessly writing takes about how will kill student essays (and thereby doom the professoriate) are projecting.

Watching prompt become a verb in front of my eyes. (Yes, I know it’s already a verb, but -prompt- as in a specific procedural task associated with generators.)

1/8 As an English professor working in the digital humanities, my takeaway from ChatGPT (& large-language-model discourse generators in general) is that society will soon need to decide which values associated with “good” writing can and will be offloaded to LLMs so that the value added by humans can be shifted to a smaller or restructured spectrum of the functions of “good” writing for which humans can be recognized, rewarded, and held responsible.

Double authentication through personal hotspot with VPN to JSTOR, Accept and Download, nothing but net.

UVA shooting 

There’s a Washington Post story out this morning with heartbreaking details about the UVA shooting. Through all of it, I found myself empathizing with the professor who organized the field trip and was there on the bus (she is named).

She secured funding (probably through some small internal grant, just like many I’ve written), arranged theatre tickets for the class and made dinner reservations, and, most tragically, invited the suspected shooter —who was taking a different class with her — to attend. So many of the people reading this would have done exactly the same. 

Not in the story and I can’t confirm it’s true, but a detail I’ve heard elsewhere is that she rode in the ambulance with one of the wounded students. I don’t know how she gets past a thing like this.

In this time of great international uncertainty at least we know any duly verified individual or entity posting on Twitter is reliably who they say they are.

Elon 

Elon Musk is basically Trump without the people skills.

Poly-tix 

I for one am not excited or impressed by any supposed glimmer of normalcy or moderation in the GOP. Compared to what? It’s been DECADES of extremism, not a few short years. And, whatever it is, it’s all merely calculated and tactical. There is no moral core.

Twitter! 🐥☠️ Archiving! 💾🗄️ 

As interest builds in archiving parts of Twitter, it’s a good time to check out Documenting the Now, a set of tools and guiding policies for archiving social media ethically, with guidance by communities at risk. It’s a years-long project led by archivists, who are specially trained to understand the ethical and practical implications of preservation. docnow.io

I’m dismayed by the amount of post-election reporting that focuses on tactics (blunders, maneuvering, infighting), to explain the “surprising,” “improbable” Democratic success. The “surprise” framing absolves the political press from guilt for swallowing a red wave propaganda campaign from GOP operatives and pollers.

And what if Republicans did badly because voters don’t want what they’re selling? Maybe policy choices matter.

@EJDionne does much better:
washingtonpost.com/opinions/20

Hey, so I'm Aaron T. Pratt.

For work, I serve as Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center, a research library, archive, and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.

I'm also on the books as a Lecturer in UT's Department of English. I occasionally teach conference courses with grad students and sit on dissertation committees. I'm currently teaching a grad seminar on bibliographical methods: How to Read an Old Book, 1450–1830.

I specialize in later 15th- through 17th-century English literature and culture, but far more broadly into bibliography and media history. Obsessed with VHS and other early home video formats.

When I'm not thinking about old books or watching direct-to-video movies, I listen to a lot of music that sounds loud even when the volume's turned down.

@timelfen just got to your paperolgy paper. Such good stuff. Especially taken with the notion of *versions* (not just manuscripts) as media. That’s very powerful because it gives us a way of talking about workflow that’s not just about outcomes.

A photo of an engineer wiring an early IBM computer, 1958 by Berenice Abbott.

Just got a trolling what-about reply to my UVA post. Reminder that there are no safe spaces, not even here in tootsville. Offender is blocked.

Gun violence 

I was at UVA just this past weekend. You pass multiple gun shops and shooting ranges on Rt. 29 driving down from DC.

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