Sunday, March 22, 2009

Richard J. Finneran Award

I am humbled, delighted, and frankly floored to announce that Mechanisms has won the Richard J. Finneran award from the Society for Textual Scholarship for best monograph or edition published in 2007-8. The award was conferred at the conference banquet in NYC the other night.

Richard J. Finneran was Professor of English at the University of Tennessee before an untimely death in 2005. In addition to serving as Executive Director of the STS, he was a distinguished scholar and editor of Yeats, his edition of the poems literally laying the foundation for the study of the poet's major works. He was also one of the first to grasp the implications of computers and new media for literary and textual studies. When I was a graduate student at the University of Virginia, one of the first books I bought after deciding to do serious work in electronic textuality was The Literary Text in the Digital Age, which he edited. I had no idea who Richard Finneran was at the time, but I did know he had succeeded in gathering between two covers pretty much everyone in that field who was important to me. Several years later I met Richard in person at an MLA, at a session sponsored by the STS. I still didn’t know what he looked like, but he, somehow, knew who I was and in a room full of his distinguished colleagues and friends he took the time to greet and engage an assistant professor who hadn’t read Yeats since his comps.

This year, the STS conferred two Finneran awards, one for Mechanisms and the second for Richard's own facsimile edition of Yeats's The Tower, published posthumously by Cornell University Press in 2007. It is a tremendous honor and I am very grateful.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Great Wiping Controversy

No, it's not about what you're thinking. In a new paper, Craig Wright, Dave Kleinman, and Shyaam Sundhar R. S. seek to debunk the notion that it takes more than a single overwrite to securely delete digital data. "We demonstrate that the controversy surrounding this topic is unfounded."

The paper represents a challenge to some of the arguments in Mechanisms regarding the permanence of digital inscription. In particular, the authors suggest that Peter Gutmann's method of multiple redundant data passes to "sanitize" magnetic media has had undue influence, introducing a mythology about the difficulty of effectively erasing information stored on a magnetic disk.