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From the “rough draft of history” to the final draft for posterity — Part II
Written by , Saturday, 11 Oct, 2008 – 21:39 | No Comment

Last week I talked about the editorial process of CyberChaikhana in general terms.  This week, however, I’ll get into the specific nitty-gritty.  Let’s use the education sample chapter and its source posts as a case study to look at the kinds of revision I’m undertaking.

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From the “rough draft of history” to the final draft for posterity — Part I
Written by , Saturday, 4 Oct, 2008 – 20:12 | No Comment

A major component of the CyberChaikhana drafting process is the copy-editing of the source posts that will comprise the core of the book.  Since this process requires a lot of excision and re-wording, often to the point where the posts’ outward appearance in the manuscript seem more like paraphrasing (if not re-writing) than quoting, I feel it is only fair to explain to everyone the rationale and decision-making that goes on when I’m working on a post.  Let’s begin with my rationale.

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The World University Project
Written by , Saturday, 27 Sep, 2008 – 19:55 | No Comment


I’ve begun working on the manuscript; expect excerpts from chapters of the rough draft soon.  In the meantime, check this out:  last week I mentioned the World University Project (WUP), a very interesting endeavor headed up J. Nathan Matias.

“The World University Project will take a team of young academics to universities around the world to give workshops in their fields, connect students with their peers elsewhere, and create a digital documentary on the role of universities in the era of globalisation.

“With recent growth in international academic programs and increased emphasis on higher education in economic development, demand is growing for academics to teach and research outside their home country. In this dynamic environment of differing university settings and objectives, rising academics and administrators need to be prepared for the challenges of a career abroad, made aware of opportunities, and informed on the varied cultures, structures, and resources which define such a career.

“The global economy increasingly requires international awareness and cooperation. University life provides a common reference for students to consider each others’ unique lives. This project will make that connection possible.  By teaching workshops, the team will provide a service to participating institutions while working directly with students. The resulting digital documentary will then combine the stories of students, analyses from experts, and the team’s observations into a rich interactive resource. ”

The project is in need of volunteers.  If you’re interested in helping, please contact it at worlduniversityproject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Also, for those of you who will be in the environs of Kiev this October, make sure to check out Blogcamp CEE, an international conference on new media and online start-ups with a focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration…”
Written by , Saturday, 20 Sep, 2008 – 21:29 | One Comment

…remarked Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb and a man familiar with the challenges of the creative process.  It takes real struggle to birth something, be it a child, a contraption, or in our case, a book.  We’ve come a long way with CyberChaikhana, and after the late-summer interlude it’s now time to leap back into the struggle.

I will begin writing the complete rough draft manuscript, chapter by chapter.  It will take me a few months to finish; as I proceed, I will release material.  Additionally, I will return to my previous habit of publishing a post in this space at least once a week.  I invite everyone to join our Google group to receive automatic updates, and most of all to spread the word — Schwartz and CyberChaikhana are back!

Here’s a round-up of all the pertinent posts herein:

We’ve also attracted the attention of some very cool academics, including Mike Gallen, an Americanist from La Salle and Cambridge Universities who is now at Carnegie Mellon University; Sabrina DeTurk, an associate dean of graduate studies at Saint Joseph’s Univesity; and J. Nathan Matias, another Cambridge alum and founder of the World University Project, with whom I’ll be working in the near future.

There are also exciting things going on behind the scenes at neweurasia, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.  Don’t worry, none of it is as dramatic as what’s happened lately on Wall Street, but the strategists are really going to try to push some boundaries during the next several months.

We’re back!
Written by , Tuesday, 26 Aug, 2008 – 21:31 | No Comment

As of last night, I have finished the rough draft for my thesis — all 88 pages of it! All that remains to be done is editing the beast and formally submitting to my department.  So, CyberChaikhana will begin to get back into gear as August comes to a close.  Stay tuned!

Don’t worry, CyberChaikhana hasn’t gone away
Written by , Wednesday, 30 Jul, 2008 – 1:56 | No Comment

Well, after three gruelling weeks of effort, I’ve finally finished the rough draft for the first part of my thesis paper.  Now comes the second part and the conclusion.  Fortunately, what’s coming up next is the fun stuff. I’ll get back into the CyberChaikhana grind soon, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’d like to call everyone’s attention Everyone Has Human Rights Awards‘ human rights media contest.  Also, check out our blurb in Transitions Online’s June 2008 issue of Open Society Education News.

Revised chapters list
Written by , Wednesday, 9 Jul, 2008 – 16:34 | 3 Comments

Crazy Writing SchwartzBefore I go completely incommunicado for the remainder of July, here’s the latest revision of the chapters list. There isn’t a lot of difference from the previous entries (here and here); mostly subtle changes have been made to the foci’s. As many of you have realized, the foci’s will serve as the openers for the finished chapters.

Make sure to check out our sample chapter, “Got Spellcheck, Will Work for Food.” I’ve been getting positive feedback so far. That’s not only promising, it’s heartening!

Starting in August I will begin writing rough drafts for each chapter. Stay tuned!

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The rest of July
Written by , Monday, 7 Jul, 2008 – 15:49 | One Comment

I’ve been incommunicado the last two weeks because of my Master’s thesis. I’m culling data from the 100 or so books I’ve read over the last seven months and pooling it all together into notes, tables, dossiers, fact sheets, and yes, even pie charts. This will continue for at least one more week, and then I’ll begin writing the rough draft for the actual paper. That means I will continue to be away from CyberChaikhana, both the book and the blog, for most of July.

Don’t worry! I have enough material gathered from the Stanosphere to leap back into writing chapter rough drafts. Stay tuned for follow-ups to the education sample chapter. And by the way, for those of you interested in the topic of education in the post-Soviet world, check out TOL’s new weblog, the Chalkboard.

Rough draft: “Got Spellcheck, Will Work For Food”
Written by , Saturday, 21 Jun, 2008 – 18:36 | 12 Comments
Original photo by KZblog

Original photo by KZblog

It’s high time I showed you all some fruit of our labor. What follows is the rough draft version of the education chapter. A few caveats before proceeding:

  • The present rough draft is composed almost entirely from neweurasia posts. The exception is KZblog’s post, from which the title of the chapter comes. The neweurasia bloggers used in this rough draft are: Adam, Arthur, Ben, Irene, Ksenia, Maciula, Merdjen, Olesya, and Vadim. To see the original posts, just follow the link after each section.
  • There is a bit of a preponderance of Kazakhstan-related material for the first half. This was a result of the material available as well as what I felt the chapter called for. Readers can expect a greater balance of materials in the finished book.
  • The writing style I’ve used is intended to be “Economist-lite.”

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Blogger arrests and attacks
Written by , Monday, 16 Jun, 2008 – 17:04 | 2 Comments
Cartoon © Seven Vincent

Cartoon © Seven Vincent

The BBC reports that blogging-related arrests total 64 since 2003. What should we make of this number? Let’s look at it in context: Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, or RSF) reports that in 2007 86 print and broadcast journalists were killed in action — up 244% over five years. Not to mention 887 arrested, 1,511 physically attacked or threatened, and a disturbing 67 journalists kidnapped. In 2006 85 print and broadcast journalists and 32 media assistants were killed, 871 arrested, 1,472 physically attacked or threatened, and 56 kidnapped. With regards to us online journalists, citizens and “pros” together, in 2007 37 bloggers were arrested, 21 physically attacked, and 2,676 websites shut down or suspended.  (As if to prove the point, Elena reports today that the offices of Kyrgyzstani opposition newspaper De-Facto have been searched by police.)

RSF remarked,

“No country has ever seen more journalists killed than Iraq, with at least 207 media workers dying there since the March 2003 US invasion – more than in the Vietnam War, the fighting in ex-Yugoslavia, the massacres in Algeria or the Rwanda genocide.

“The Iraqi and US authorities — themselves guilty of serious violence against journalists — must take firm steps to end these attacks. Iraqi journalists are deliberately targeted by armed groups and are not simply the victims of stray bullets. The Iraqi government cannot immediately stop the violence but it can send a strong signal to the killers by doing all it can to seek them out and punish them.

“Somalia and Pakistan saw more journalists killed than they have for several years. Somalia is still very much a country of outlaws where the strongest rule and the media are easy targets. Journalists in Pakistan are caught in the crossfire between the army, Islamist militants and criminal gangs. The only good news of the past year is that for the first time in 15 years no journalists were killed in Colombia because of their work.”

What does this mean for the Stanosphere? As many of you know, neweurasia and Registan.net were both blocked in Uzbekistan in 2006. The situation for us in Turkmenistan isn’t very good, either. On the “pro” side of things, of course many of us are still mourning the loss of Alisher Saipov.

And yet, readers and writers all push on. Of course, in online citizen journalism, is there really a difference between readers and writers? There isn’t, and it is for this reason that ultimately censorship and violence against blogging cannot succeed.

On a positive note, Ben brought to my attention the book We are Iran: The Persian Blogs by Nasrin Alavi. Published in 2005, it put to lie the stereotype of Iranian apathy in the face of governmental oppression. Her book became an instant hit and sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide (a limited peak is available here).