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Friday News: new Dropbox services, Cambridge cancels “Gone With The Wind”...

Dropbox will let you switch between work and personal accounts next month – As Dropbox continues to focus on building its Dropbox for Business service, it is also expanding options for users, including the ability to manage both personal and professional Dropbox accounts without having to log in again. This feature, as well as others, will “drop” on April 9th. Analysts anticipate that Dropbox is preparing to file for its own IPO, especially since its biggest rival, Box, has allegedly just done so. Dropbox is currently used by 200 million people.

Meanwhile, the price of online storage is falling steadily toward zero. This week, Google slashed the price of storage on Google Drive, dropping the price for storing 1 terabyte of data from $49.99 a month to $9.99 a month. Dropbox consumer storage tops out at 500 gigabytes for $49.99 a month. Company founder Drew Houston has said in the past that users care more about having a service that works than how many gigabytes they are using, but that could change as Dropbox’s rivals continue offering more space for less money –The Verge

Cambridge college cancels ‘racist’ Gone with the Wind themed ball – The piece I recently linked to on the Great American novel, and the discussion that ensued in the comments, made this story particularly relevant. Students were basing the party on the film and not on the novel, but in response to student complaints (a student is quoted in the story), the event was canceled. In an ironic twist:

The row comes only a week after students at Cambridge and Oxford University launched a photo campaign to highlight their experiences of racial discrimination at the university. –The Guardian

10 African American Female Firsts – So in honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve been collecting links on notable women and notable accomplishments by women, and given the previous story, this seems particularly appropriate. The list includes Madame CJ Walker, the first American woman to earn million dollars from her own business, and Bessie Coleman, the first American (man or woman) to get an international pilot’s license, among others you may or may not be aware of (all of whom provide great inspiration for Romance heroines). –Kuriositas

Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users – There are a lot of interesting things about this story, and about the Pew study on which it reports. For example, more than two-thirds of Americans are “actively engaged” with their public libraries. This finding also correlates positively with general community engagement (not a surprise), and with technology use (perhaps more of a surprise). What’s particularly interesting are the results related to so-called “information overload,” which is not a concern for most people (less than 20 percent), and those who do report this feeling are less engaged with both technology and libraries.

“A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.” –PBS Newshour

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

12 Comments

  1. wikkidsexycool
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 07:41:29

    Janet,

    Thanks for the UK article link on Cambridge’s GWTW themed ball. I also read the comments, and while some posters got why this was a very bad idea, I notice others were still on the fence.

  2. SAO
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 07:44:33

    While I commented negatively about GWTW on your post stating it was listed as a “great American novel,” I have to say, as a teen, I adored the book and movie. And the depiction of slavery as an institution of benevolent, protective masters and happy slaves was one I liked. It neatly whitewashed the ugliness and didn’t disrupt my rosy view of American history. Not much in the history I was taught worked hard to disrupt this picture, either.

    How evil can be accepted in an educated, enlightened society whose founding document proclaims the universal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a conundrum that I was not mature enough to deal with. Sweeping it under the rug was neat and tidy.

    So, I get why people can be clueless as to why others find GWTW nauseatingly racist.

  3. CD
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:46:39

    Hmmnn. The GONE WITH THE WIND theme wasn’t a great idea but I wouldn’t say it was racist. It’s important to note that while Britain was thoroughly complicit in the slave trade, it does not have the same history of slavery as in the US. Most Brits don’t really understand the causes of the American civil war and the history of slavery in the US – we’re certainly not taught it at school. The ugly history of racism for us is more about colonialism/Empire rather than slavery.

    So yes, I can understand why St Edmund’s College, Cambridge came up with the idea of GONE WITH WIND for a ball – I mean, it’s a chance to dress in those gorgeous dresses and go around muttering “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. They didn’t really think that it is basically equivalent to throwing a ball with the theme of the British Raj or the Chinese Opium wars…

  4. txvoodoo
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 15:19:46

    You know, if they just wanted a chance to frolic around in hoopskirts and such, why didn’t they just go with a Victorian-era party, instead of appropriating a tragic era in another nation’s history?

  5. Naima
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 15:19:57

    Jamaica was one of Britain’s most important colonies. To suggest that the average Britain feels removed from the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade is rather far fetched as it was slave labor in Jamaica that worked the sugar trade. Furthermore there are many Jamaican British people in the UK. Given their substantial number in the general population, I imagine the average British person would know that slave labor on British sugar plantations boosted the British Empire.

  6. wikkidsexycool
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 15:31:56

    Imho the decision to link the ball with GWTW took planning. When the initial idea was brought up there had to be some dialogue regarding the roles portrayed in film, and even a bit of research. I don’t know if the university has an adult advisor for these sort of things, but if they do, there may be a lack of awareness on the part of some faculty also.

    What also raises a flag is the article stating that students of color had just publicly revealed their personal experiences with racism on the campus itself.

    http://www.theguardian.com/education/abby-and-libby-blog/2014/mar/14/students-racism-on-campus-awareness-campaign

    The GWTW themed ball was just one more example that some serious diversity training is needed on the campus, but I will also state that diversity training goes both ways, for there are misconceptions many of us have about each other’s culture or nation of origin.

    If the students and admin didn’t know before, now they do. And this would be the opportune time to give all those involved a world view (a cultural exchange and perhaps to have a ball where the majority of students would feel comfortable attending)

  7. CD
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 16:45:28

    @Naima:

    I thoroughly agree – slave labour in the Caribbean and the slave trade in general basically built most of the cities in Britain. Although all European nations of the time engaged in the slave trade, it was the British who were the best at it. And as bad as slavery was in the US, it was worse on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean: the death toll there was so high that they were continually dependent on the slave trade to “replenish their stock”, whereas slavery in the US was largely self-sustaining. I wouldn’t say that Jamaica was one of Britain’s most important colonies though, or that Jamaicans are that large a community in the UK proportionally speaking, but I agree with you otherwise.

    What I meant by my comment about racism is that the history of racism in Britain is not based on our ancestors having owned other people as property to buy and sell. In Britain, it was based on the nation feeling that it had the right to own entire other nations due to its “civilization” or “inherent virtue” or whatever awful f**kage was propagated at the time: it’s less intimate (for want of a better word) but more all-encompassing. Whatever it is, the history of race relations, and therefore the reflexes to avoid pushing those red buttons, are different with regards racism in the UK than in the US. So I can understand how something that seems irredeemably racist in the US is not seen as such in the UK.

    Far be it for me to defend a bunch of unavoidably clueless 18-21 year olds, and at The Other Place no less, but I just see their planning as unfortunate rather than racist. Granted, it’s been a long time since I watched GWTW, but my memory is that there is very little on slavery in the film itself. There are a few characters who I assume were slaves but it wasn’t made very clear if you didn’t already know. So if you watch GWTW without a clear knowledge of what caused the American Civil War or what the Confederates actually stood for (which is perfectly possible in the UK), I can see how people could just take away the pretty dresses and snappy one-liners. From memory, it’s not exactly BIRTH OF A NATION in the clarity of its politics.

    @wikkidsexycool:

    Err – I think you may be giving too much credit to the planning process. At Oxford, a college undergraduate ball is planned by a committee elected by and made up of students. There is a tutor who is meant to be a liaison but this is Oxbridge so that tutor probably hadn’t even seen GWTW, let alone understands the unfortunate implications. It’s all very amateurish. Given that Teddy Hall, Cambridge only has 420 undergrads, a college ball is not going to be that big an affair that would require that much supervision.

    And as for racism awareness – as I said, the issues that GWTW raises speaks primarily to the American experience of racism rooted in slavery and the resultant civil war. Racism is a definite problem in the UK and diversity training is crucial. But the context is different, so giving seminars on the problems that GWTW raises isn’t really going to help matters. Although learning a bit more about American history so that you don’t put your foot in it in future is most definitely a good thing.

  8. CD
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 16:55:03

    Opps – sorry, that’s St Edmund’s College, Cambridge: I mistakenly looked up Teddy Hall at Oxford. The Cambridge college is for mature students only and has 430 students in total – both undergrads and graduate students – so they don’t have the excuse of age…

  9. wikkidsexycool
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 12:01:32

    ” And as bad as slavery was in the US, it was worse on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean: the death toll there was so high that they were continually dependent on the slave trade to “replenish their stock”, whereas slavery in the US was largely self-sustaining.”

    CD, I’m not sure where you’re getting your ideas on slavery from regarding the US, or slavery in general, but no matter how you continue to try to spin this, imho you’re simply trying to give an excuse or your own rationale for how the actions of a few students who decided to link with GWTW aren’t really racist. Okay, that’s your opinion and you’re sticking to it. I happen to have an opposing view on the matter.

    Please know this, what the students did is no reflection on you or the whole of England.

    I’m more than happy to agree to disagree. And I started to just let this go, but then I decided not to, because this type of scenario is played out all to often these days, where intolerance is brought up with actual examples, but the opposing view is that it’s really not, and the offender should be cut some slack “because”. Substitute sexism for racism and perhaps then there can be more of a consensus and less excuses.

    OT: I was very pleased to see 12 Years a Slave won the honor of Best Film for the BAFTAS and also that Chiwetel Ejiofor won best actor.

  10. Sunita
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 19:30:27

    @CD:

    And as bad as slavery was in the US, it was worse on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean: the death toll there was so high that they were continually dependent on the slave trade to “replenish their stock”, whereas slavery in the US was largely self-sustaining. I wouldn’t say that Jamaica was one of Britain’s most important colonies though, or that Jamaicans are that large a community in the UK proportionally speaking, but I agree with you otherwise.

    What I meant by my comment about racism is that the history of racism in Britain is not based on our ancestors having owned other people as property to buy and sell. In Britain, it was based on the nation feeling that it had the right to own entire other nations due to its “civilization” or “inherent virtue” or whatever awful f**kage was propagated at the time: it’s less intimate (for want of a better word) but more all-encompassing.

    If British students are being taught that Britain’s role is primarily that of an imperial conqueror and not that of slave trading and ownership, then those students are being miseducated in the most profound way. And that is apart from the role of non-African slavery.

    While it is true that Caribbean slave importation was about replenishing stock, it is incorrect to state that US slavery was self-sustaining. US slavery in the colonial era was *British* slavery, and it was expansionist, not self-sustaining. The increase in the slave population across the 18thC is massive. It is not until the 19thC that the total slave population was “self-sustaining” in any meaningful way.

    As for the extent to which British slavery involved the trade and ownership of people, and the economic benefits involved therein, I think last year’s articles on post-abolition payouts speak for themselves. From the linked article:

    [T]he claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.

    ETA: About GWTW (movie or book): How can anyone not know that the story involves slavery? It’s set on a friggin’ plantation! In the 21stC, is it really asking that much for adults to understand that 19th and 20thC novels that involve slavery are probably not great choices for “theme” events?

  11. Robin/Janet
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 20:30:11

    I don’t know how applicable this is to the UK higher education environment, but here’s a really interesting analysis of racist parties on US college and university campuses: http://colorlines.com/archives/2007/10/the_rise_of_the_ghettofabulous_party.html

  12. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Just another Linkity Friday (earworm, anyone?)
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 19:10:10

    […] Book and publishing news from Dear Author. […]

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