Bentham’s corpse and corpus preserved at UCL

At UCL, a project is run to transcribe the lots of J. Bentham’s unedited papers.

The originality is that they will use “crowd sourcing” for this task: a collaborative project to digitize his papers, with the help of volunteers drawn from the web. Gratuitous, hype project? Not quite, since these are 40,000 papers of Bentham that have never been transcribed or studied, and a massive distributed effort seems a clever use of the technology to speed up the completion of the transcription.

Jump at 5’15 for the description of the crowd-sourcing project.

What do the Bentham’s specialists think about this initiative? Do they expect it to change the scholarship on Bentham in any significant manner?

[thx to @your2pence who posted on this on]

E-history (continued)

Is “e-history” just relevant for very recent times, and leading “naturally” to a narrow interest in quantities and prices? Not so!

(OK, this is a very unfair reading of Loic’s comments on my last post. Still, the video is interesting and illustrates how “e-history” is not just about crunching numbers, as the repetitive comparisons with cliometrics would suggest).

Craufurd Goodwin

Harro Maas and Tiago Mata (our buddy in this playground and elsewhere) have interviewed Craufurd Goodwin (and also E. Roy Weintraub, Neil De Marchi and Paul Dudenhefer), James B. Duke Professor of Economics at Duke University, about his leadership in the field of history of economics and about the 40th anniversary of his editorship of HOPE — this week there will be a conference at Duke celebrating all this. Harro and Tiago have produced a very nice video, in two parts, with excerpts of that interview that will surely interest historians of economics, fans of Craufurd, and friends of the Duke group in general:

Experiencing the Shock Doctrine

Thanks to some friends journalists, I got an invitation for a press projection of The Shock Doctrine, a movie by British directors Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross based on Naomi Klein‘s much discussed bestseller, which will be released on March 3 in France. For 82 minutes – it does not seem very long but, believe me, it is – I have been exposed to unbearable images: the massacres in Chile and Argentina, the bombing of the Russian Duma, the collapse of the Twin towers, the tortures at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, tsunamis and hurricanes, dead bodies in the streets of New Orleans, Milton Friedman being held responsible for all these horrors. The images are so violent, indeed, that I could not keep myself from thinking that the directors were themselves nurturing some kind of fascination for it and were trying to apply the Shock Doctrine to the spectator – that poor little me huddled up by fear and anxiety in his red velvet seat. Are you more virtuous than your opponent when you end up using the tools you are denouncing? Then, came to mind this sentence by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (roughly translated by yours truly): “We are not responsible for the victims but in front of the victims. And there is no other way than imitating an animal (growling, digging, giggling, convulsing) to escape the scurvy. Thought itself is sometimes closer to a dying animal than a living man, even a democrat.”