There was a second day for the course with workshops and stuff, but that I couldn't attend. The first day with the general lectures was very interesting, and offered some good ideas I will have to put into use. Tiina Kosunen's talk regarding the academic portfolio was one that I liked. The idea of documenting one's competence in various fields and summarising it into a single portfolio is a good practice to follow. My initial despair - the urge to hit myself with heavy objects - was caused by the sudden realization that should I follow Kosunen's advice, I would have to allocate another month for doing something only remotely academic or interesting; an experience I have already had in January 2010, writing a perfect funding application that in the end has not yet had much success, if it ever will.
Theo van der Zee went through the process of getting a paper fit for publication, with enough detail and thoroughness that I have no further questions regarding the technical aspect. An ideological consideration, however, remains. In my relationship with the library of the department of theology in Helsinki University I have witnessed that prices for monographs and journals are high, while library budgets are tight. From my humble perspective the situation looks completely artificial. Libraries pay heavy sums to the publishers because there is no other option. Universities allocate heavy sums to the libraries because they need to obtain the necessary material for both students and faculty. Universities beg for funding, etc. From the amount of revenue the authors receive (judging from hearsay) one would think that the publishers are struggling to make the ends meet. And to add some insult to the injury, the end result manifests itself e.g. in prohibitions to quote (!) authors who are writing for different publishers. Next time you see a scholarly treatise where the author paraphrases an ancient text instead of offering a complete translation made by some other scholar, the reason may well be that the other scholar's publisher has denied the use of his or her translation.
The following questions bug me. If only some North American publishers have the resources to give a good peer-review process to a monograph and European publishers like Brill do not do this, how come the volumes are still so exorbitantly priced? If I wish to publish my own writing e.g. in this very blog, could my publisher forbid that? How can I combine the need to publish in peer-reviewed journals and my own conviction that information should not be kept restricted, an ideal promoted e.g. in the philosopher Pekka Himanen's The Hacker Ethic (2001)? The last question could be solved by publishing in peer-reviewed open-access journals, but will that decision put me into an academic marginal, for good?
Returning to the training course, after the coffee break Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner was her usual overwhelming self, with lots of great ideas. Of the panel discussion I had time to listen to the first three opening speeches before heading to train some swordsmanship, giving me the impression that for the individuals who were not working as part of the academic community in its strictest sense (holding a position in a university), the advantage of having a PhD had only to do with one's own virtue, so to speak, with one's own development into the cultivated and cultured person one happened to be at the moment of the panel discussion. That in itself has to be worth something.
Last, I can't resist but congratulate the good sense of humour Kulervo exhibits in this comment:
You should bring your sword to future panel discussions of your work on Secret Mark. It will help keep the discussion civil. And if you need to run off to the salle again before the end, you can use it to cut the discussion short.
I mean that metaphorically of course. I just mean that you could wave your sword in the air and shout "I have to go now!" and they'll understand that you need to head off for practice.
In RL people have actually asked casually if I noticed the comment I received, for they had found it extremely funny. The humorous aspect is transcended further when one realises that the sword in question looks like this:
Just imagine waving that bastard sword around, a movement that, unsurprisingly, is not found in Fior di Battaglia, the early 15th-century manuscript used as the basis for the school's curriculum.
Next I am writing a short comment on the recent papers dealing with the handwriting in Theod.