Neoliberal or postmodern things, and the past of the present

It was in 1964 that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to allow prisoners to sue on prison conditions.

The nation-state cannot tolerate multi-ethnic populations, and this is why there is so much effort toward homogenization. Empires, on the other hand, are easily multi-ethnic.

We are currently supposed to say that online courses can be better than in-person ones. We are also supposed to say that textbooks, and textbook companies are bad, even th0ugh textbooks are actually LESS canned, and LESS totalizing as environments, than online courses are.

I wonder whether what is behind this is competition for market share between textbooks and online tools. Textbooks have authors who get royalties, but online courses have only “course representatives,” “facilitators,” and “subject matter experts,” who are, I assume, just on salary or contract, doing work for hire. And intellectual property rights are a very gray area here. Could it be that now, they are trying to take authorship away from textbook authors, and THAT is what is going on?


6 thoughts on “Neoliberal or postmodern things, and the past of the present

  1. Hi Leslie,

    You ought to be able to get an answer to this question if you know of any online course authors.Maybe they get grants to do this (making the course part of their pitch) or else are doing it so that they can get grants.

  2. Roberta, I know many such authors and no, you don’t get “grants” to do this any more. It’s commercial, this is big business. If you ask this kind of question to people who are heavily committed to these things, it will not be comprehensible to them because they have so drunk certain kinds of Kool-Aid. You have to go into the radical education journals to get realistic discussions. I can explain in more detail.

  3. Could it be that now, they are trying to take authorship away from textbook authors, and THAT is what is going on?
    Possibly? How many different types of media does a standard textbook royalty cover?

    But aren’t most textbook companies also developing the online courses which draw rotely from the textbooks? Pearson is an online course AND a textbook company. Of course the promotion of online courses cuts down on the resale market for textbooks, which companies like Pearson cut into by selling licenses to access materials which are time limited and non-transferrable and by packaging the paper versions of textbooks as looseleaf pages on newsprint without book bindings, poised to tear upon contact.

  4. Shakti, right. But I’m interested in how the concept of book is maligned. I’m in a field that studies books as such. It’s very irritating to have people say I should have “resources” but not books.

    1. A book, especially a textbook, is a curation, and a framing, in the way a “resource” is not and does not imply.

      Perhaps this holds even with online resources that are cribbed straight from textbooks? Most people aren’t going to sit there and read the bibliography or end notes and even less so with online resources — if that’s even readily accessible. Is that what you were alluding to in walled garden environment of online courses?

      1. Yes. You’ve said it better than I. A few PDFs and Power Points just isn’t a book. I mean: you can put online a course reader the way you could have one photocopied in the past. But people DO crib online resources from textbooks just in the way you say, and call it good.

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