enough of this! we need a bcs (blog championship series) to determine the best biblioblogs

College Football Bowl Championship Series

College Football Bowl Championship Series

I despise the Bowl Championship Series. Hate it! Why aren’t #4 Stanford (PAC-10) and #5 Wisconsin (Big Ten) playing in the Rose Bowl where a PAC-10 representative traditionally plays a Big Ten team? What is Stanford doing playing AP #12 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl? If a PAC-10 team, Oregon, is playing in the national championship game, why wouldn’t the Rose Bowl folks choose the next best PAC-10 (and coincidentally, the #4 team in the nation) team for the Rose Bowl? Why isn’t #3 TCU playing BCS #6 Ohio State or BCS #7 Oklahoma? In fact, why doesn’t undefeated TCU have a shot at the title game like undefeated Oregon and Auburn? And why must I watch Oklahoma destroy play unranked Connecticut? (Yes, I know about the guaranteed BCS bowl games for certain conference champions, but that’s another problem entirely.)

Here’s my idea. The top four teams should play in a playoff using existing bowl games. This keeps the existing bowl boards happy because they each get their local advertising and revenue bowl, yet it allows for a playoff that could eliminate problems like we have this year with 3 undefeated teams.

For instance, the Fiesta Bowl could pit BCS #1 Auburn vs. BCS #4 Wisconsin, and the Orange Bowl could pit BCS #2 Oregon vs. BCS #3 TCU. Then, and only then, would the two winners of the two BCS bowl games play in a real BCS championship game. The other bowls could continue to do their own thing and make their money. This simple addition of a mini-playoff to the existing BCS system would at least allow us to clear up things like TCU being undefeated, but not playing in the championship game, while adding a minimum of extra games (precisely one!).

Biblioblogger Championship Series

Biblioblogger Championship Series (Mashup by Robert R. Cargill)

But all of this got me thinking about the recent barrage of polls attempting to rank the top biblioblogs on the web. There’s the Biblioblogger 10, the Biblioblog Top 20, the Biblioblog Top 50, the Jouissance-meter, the West Poll, the Linville Method, the Rhythm Method, and so on. I got to thinking that we have the same problem that college football had before the creation of the BCS. Then it struck me: we should create our own BCS (Blogger or Biblioblogger Championship Series).

I mean, if we’re going to have a number of completely arbitrary polls and rankings with different criteria and methodologies to produce a dozen different top blogger rankings, we might as well have a BCS (Blogger Championship Series) of our own to blame it on. That way, we can at least have an argument over how to determine the top blogs instead of arguing which blog is better. Like the BCS, we’ll be no closer to determining an actual number one, but we’ll at least have something to blame for it.

The BCS computation is based upon the Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, and a number of other polls. Therefore, we’d, of course, need all of the polls listed above. Some polls can be rankings as voted by other bloggers. Other polls can be the results of readers and critics. Additionally, we’ll need a metric to measure best W-L record (number of blog posts), strength of schedule (quality of blog posts), and some magic constant multiplier to make everything come out just right. (My vote is for 42.)

Blog Championship Series

Blog Championship Series (Mashup by Robert R. Cargill)

I believe if we do this right, we can have the same amount of disagreement and confusion we have now, but we could blame it on the system and not on each other.

I need help, however, putting together the proper formula for determining the best blog. Any ideas can be left in the comments below.

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u.s. news: harvard is the nation’s top school

US NewsHarvard University is the nation’s top school according to the 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings released today.

California once again landed the most schools in the top 50 with 9 schools, with 5 of those in the top 25:

Read more here.

stanford to accept digital dissertations

The Seal of Stanford Universitythis is great news for scholars – both graduate students and professors.

stanford university has decided to accept digital dissertations. that’s right, you heard me correctly:

Put away your checkbook. Don’t bother buying reams of acid-free paper. Just hit the “submit” button to digitally upload dissertations under a new program that begins in November.

i was a year (and 312 miles) too soon. i would have loved to have a policy like that in place last september.

in my ucla doctoral dissertation (now available as a book), i provided a new methodology for testing digital reconstructions of archaeological remains in virtual reality. in writing my digital humanities dissertation, i lamented the fact that original research involving three dimensional reconstructions that are able to show complex architectural development over time is not suited for a two-dimensional printed page. while i can describe the methodology involved, the actual model i describe requires an actual three dimensional space to in order to be visualized, and a fourth dimension of time is required to see the diachronic development of the site.

but the resistance to ‘digital’ forms of published dissertations lies not in the technology, but in the traditional skepticism of the academy of anything other than a typewriter typed dissertation on acid-free paper. i said as much in the conclusion of my book:

This research also realizes the overt incompatibility of publishing a book involving digital reconstructions in three-dimensional space in the traditional paper and ink format. It is, of course, highly ironic that this three-dimensional research is looked down upon by many, who prefer the time-honored, traditional medium of the printed book, which cannot fully convey the technological approach described within its pages. It is as incomplete as literally trying to describe a picture with a thousand words! Thus, the present research calls on scholars, publishers, dissertation committees, and departments of archaeology, architecture, and other related programs to make themselves more accommodating to newer digital forms of publication. As the word processor has replaced the typewriter, so too will digital and three-dimensional formats soon replace analog and two-dimensional formats for publishing archaeological materials. These new digital formats should not be seen as “alternative” or lesser means of publication, but as “progressive” media that are on the cutting edge of modern archaeological research. (Cargill, Qumran through (Real) Time, p. 217-18)

apparently, stanford is listening:

Speaking at the Oct. 22 Faculty Senate meeting, University Librarian Michael Keller said the digital world offers a “much greater palette of expression” to graduate students, because they will be able to include more graphics, color and character sets in their dissertations than in paper copies.

not only can doctoral students print their research with greater ease and at a lesser expense, but other scholars will have greater and cheaper (read: free!) access to the new dissertations:

“We were clearly in favor of a less expensive alternative to ProQuest and one that has far greater intellectual reach through some agreement with Google or some other Internet carrier,” Roberts wrote in an email message.

in addition to cutting down on paper costs, helping the environment, ridding the tedious process of printing out multiple copies of a 300-page document, and not having to pay pro-quest to re-digitize a paper dissertation that was originally written in digital format on a computer, digital dissertations will allow for the publication of more innovative technological research in the sciences and digital humanities. this process preserves the rigorous process of ensuring credible research approved by a disertations committee, but eliminates the hassles of printing, which are now nearly obsolete since most of us read others’ dissertations online anyway.

i applaud the move and encourage ucla to adopt a similar policy.

u.s. news & world report 2010 college rankings released

US News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report

u.s. news & world report has issued its college rankings for best colleges 2010. harvard caught princeton for the #1 ranking. the top 10 are as follows:

1. harvard
1. princeton
3. yale
4. cal tech
4. mit
4. stanford (another california school in the top 10)
4. penn
8. colombia
8. chicago
10. duke

other notables (read: universities i like, attended, or choose to highlight) include:

11. dartmouth (beautiful, and winner of the new category in commitment to undergraduate teaching)
21. uc berkeley
24. ucla (which again beat #26 usc, and was ranked the #2 public university in the country ;-)
26. usc
35. uc san diego
42. uc davis
42. uc santa barbara (tie)
46. uc irvine

58. pepperdine (which when i attended there had climbed into the top 50, sank to 58)

this means 9 california universities (cal tech, stanford, cal berkeley, ucla, usc, uc san diego, uc davis, uc santa barbara, and uc irvine) ranked in the top 50.

of course, many colleges that did not rank as high as they would like are already complaining about the formula used to compute the rankings. an associated press article reports that:

The ranking formula takes account of factors such as SAT scores, peer reputation, selectivity and alumni giving.

critics argue that too much emphasis is placed on library size, alumni giving, and university presidential voting, which can skew the objectivity of the vote (because each university president ranks his or her college higher than it should be), but because everyone most likely inflates their school’s status, it all evens out. other systems of college ranking place more of an emphasis on teaching, student debt upon completion, employability, and affordability.

then again, the schools in the top tier are largely recognized as being the best in the country. likewise, u.s. news and world report remains the standard for college rankings.

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