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Archive for August, 2009

Ontological Proof and hedonism

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Anselm_of_Canterbury.jpg
(photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Coverage of the “self-thinking thought” in the New York Times online. It’s been a while since I’ve seen discussion of this proof of God’s existence, but describing it as a hedonistic argument got my immediate attention.

For more on arguments for proof of God’s existence, see coverage in these sources, which Tufts subscribes to. Note: if you’re off-campus or on wi-fi you’ll be asked to log in.

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Encyclopedia of Religion

For non-Tufts readers, and for comparison, you might also be interested in the (freely available and web-based) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s coverage of Anselm and ontological arguments, and Wikipedia’s article on the ontological proof.

Future of Newspapers (again)

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Rupert Murdoch recently announced in an earnings call with investors that he intends to charge for access to all his news websites. No details on how this would be managed have been announced, nor any time frame. The Wall Street Journal, a recent acquisition, is one of very few online publications which have successfully charged for access.

Which raises from a different angle what I discussed on this blog recently. Is this the future of newspapers?
I think the question here is about what kinds of information people are willing to pay for. Readers of the Wall Street Journal are paying for information they think will make them money. Most newspaper stories do not fit into this category. Robert Andrews, writing for the Guardian, comments that a better approach might be to charge for unique and special interest things like crossword puzzles and soccer memorabilia. Why charge for that and not the paper as a whole? Because putting the paper behind a pay wall renders it invisible to search (and therefore makes any advertising on the page, probably, less valuable). Also because most of the news in any given newspaper is not unique and can easily be found elsewhere. Charging for what makes your paper unique *does* seem like a reasonable strategy.

If you followed any of the links in paragraphs one or two, your exposure to the advertising on the pages I linked to makes money for, respectively, the New York Times, Motley Fool, and The Guardian. Free to the reader doesn’t necessarily mean free–see discussion by John Gruber.

Don’t worry: Tisch Library has you covered either way. Most of News Corporations newspapers are in our collection, typically via Lexis-Nexis and/or Factiva–including less well-known publications like the Fiji Times and the Sunday Tasmanian. One limitation of Lexis-Nexis and Factiva is that they don’t include photographs, just text, which makes tabloids like The Sun and the Daily Mirror much less exciting (and renders almost pointless baby elephant stories like this). So for historical purposes, we also keep microfilm copies of key newspapers like the Wall Street Journal (1959-present) and London Times (1785-present). Yes, you read that correctly: our coverage of the London Times starts during the reign of Louis XVI.

We subscribe to thousands of newspapers in a variety of formats. Examples for this article are exclusively from News Corporation properties. For others, just do a title search in the library catalog.