Sunday 21 October 2012

To self-publish or not to self-publish?

In a discussion last week, the question of self-publishing academic essays and theses came about. Not in what could be called vanity journals which will publish anything for a fee, but uploading them to sites such as

Well before social media websites made people feel they should share every aspect of their lives I already had a personal website and decided to put all my undergraduate essays there. In doing so, I felt I was staking a claim to my tiny corner of the Internet but also contributing to the available collection of online knowledge. Therefore, when I joined a couple of years ago, I uploaded one of my MEd essays and my thesis with little concern.

It was suggested that there are inherent risks and issues with sharing in this way: the primary concern being that once ideas are online they can easily be borrowed without attribution. From another perspective, problems also arise as there is no peer review and the shared work could therefore be of no more value than articles in vanity journals.

As an inveterate sharer these two points, among others, gave me pause for thought.

Having thought about it, I have decided that I will continue to share my work.

Firstly, I believe that sharing work is important within the academic community. I understand that sharing globally is not the same as within the confines of an institution, but the serendipitous connections we make within the walls of a seminar room have the potential to be multiplied with a potential international readership.

Secondly, by having published it, the work is dated and archived for eternity. Should it be borrowed it is easy to show the date of the original work in the upload. However, I would like to think (hope?) that any readers would choose to reference it if they found it useful.

Thirdly, I believe that I am only sharing work that is worth sharing. I am sure – just as with any self-publishing – that some of the work that is shared is of a questionable standard, but that is where the reader has to take responsibility. Only a foolish student will think that the Internet can provide the easy answers to their questions: a wiser student can use the Internet to their benefit as they can access paper and other research to help them support and develop their own ideas. They have to pick and choose and judge the work for themselves.

Fourthly, the Internet is another way of networking and (as I have discovered) a useful way of letting people find and know about your work on top of conferences and more traditional networking.

Fifthly, it provides a means by which an individual can see how they have developed as an academic. In the same way as Facebook is my diary and photo album for the past five years (and counting), academia lets me see how my ideas have matured since the start of my postgraduate study. While I could simply look back through my Word documents on the computer, academia allows me to see them alongside people’s comments and search terms and thereby provides a helpful tool for personal reflection.

I will stop at five reasons for going public with my work as I know there are counterarguments to all of them. Ultimately, it has to be up to the individual whether they feel happy to share their work with the largest audience in the history of the human race and whether they feel there is any value to them in sharing it.

Originally written for the Children's Literature at Cambridge blog and first posted there earlier today.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Las Vegas and Free WiFi

This is a somewhat niche post which was initially written for my personal future reference, should it be needed. However, as it might prove helpful for other travellers, I thought I would make it public.

A couple of years ago, finding free WiFi in Las Vegas was a challenge. Over the course of a few days at the end of August 2012, it seemed that matters have improved to some extent. While the casinos still want to keep people focused on losing money playing on the slots and tables, the following is a list of places where I found free WiFi.

  • The Aria casino has the best gaming floor coverage I found with a decent connection guaranteed wherever your find yourself losing money
  • Bellagio's gaming floor appears to have some access, but it was a little patchy.
  • The Cosmopolitan casino has free access which was certainly available around the bar close the gaming floor entrance on the Strip.
  • Excalibur has no free WiFi in the casino itself, but on the first floor, krispykreme offers free access.
  • There is access to Luxor's service towards the hotel check in desks on the gaming floor.
  • Macy's in the Fashion Mall offers the 'Macysfreewifi'.
  • The Apple Store in the Fashion Mall has a multitude of devices connected to the Internet to use, and users can connect to the free WiFi too.
  • The Monte Carlo casino's gaming floor has access at various points, but the signal was never particularly strong.
  • The Wynn seemed to have coverage across the gaming floor, but in the areas near the entrance from the Strip the signal was not very strong.

In the past, I have found some Starbucks and MacDonald's offer free WiFi, but this is not guaranteed and not something I had chance to check on this visit.

If you are down town, WiFi seems pretty much non-existent. However, people braving the streets outside the Fremont Street Experience will find a cafe with WiFi for its customers at Emergency Arts.

This list is, of course, liable to change and living some 5,000 miles east of Vegas, I cannot guarantee the current validity of the information. Nevertheless, if it is useful to at least one person it was worth posting.