Breaking News for Media Downloaders and Sharers

Users of KaZaa, Direct Connect, and other peer-to-peer networks, watch out! At press time, the Recording Industry Association of America filed an additional 532 lawsuits against individuals who allegedly illegally distributed copyrighted material using peer-to-peer networks. The lawsuits are presently considered “John Doe” suits because they were filed without actually naming specific individuals but through identifying them by their IP addresses. Because of previous rulings on privacy, the RIAA will be able to subpoena identifying information only now that the suits have been filed. The RIAA will work to settle the cases if possible.

Technology and the Humanities: Not an Oxymoron

When some people think of English majors, the perception may be of ink-stained fingers and eyesight strained from poring over the pages of Dickens, Shakespeare, and the like. And for many, “technology” and “the humanities” seem incompatible, if not downright antithetical. Yet for Matthew Kirschenbaum, assistant professor of digital media in the Department of English, technology is a significant component of his teaching and scholarship.

“New technology has revolutionized the way we understand texts. Instead of reading something with a defined beginning, middle, and end, cybertexts invite readers to play with and manipulate them,” said Kirschenbaum. “There are literary works specifically created to be experienced online and incorporate text, sound, image, and video, in a sense redefining what we know ‘reading’ to be.”


For creative types, the Internet is a new medium in which to explore and reconfigure traditional forms of artistic expression—or even invent new genres. “There’s a new form of poetry centered around cell phone text messaging,” noted Kirschenbaum. “The challenge for poets is that the technology limits you to 160 characters.”

Kirschenbaum incorporates technology into his courses. Students in his upper-level English course, “Computer and Text,” can check out readings for the day and discussion topics on the course blog. They can also surf his personal blog, which highlights his research interests and allows for an expanded range of intellectual conversation.

“Having course material online fits into my students’ world much better,” he said. “They’re online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, a week into the semester, and there were already 70 comments on the course blog.”

Kirschenbaum became interested in digital media while in graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he worked with the William Blake Archive. This project placed poet, printer, and engraver William Blake’s illuminated printing—a technique combining words and illustrations in etchings—online, allowing scholars and students access to Blake works previously housed only in museums.

You can visit his blogs online via




Person Identifiers Keep Track of Individuals at the University

By Barbara Hope

Numbers assigned to keep track of individuals? Sounds almost Orwellian, doesn’t it? At the University of Maryland, these numbers—called “person identifiers”—are far less sinister. They help you register for class, check your grades, and see your financial aid status. University staff can use them to help you when you have questions, make sure you’re taking the right courses for your major, and see that you get the paycheck for your campus job. Generally, your person identifier is your Social Security Number (SSN)—but all that is changing. The university is implementing changes where two different kinds of person identifiers—your Directory ID and your University ID (U ID) Number—will be used.


AWPAYou may have already used your Directory ID without even knowing it. Most people’s Directory IDs are part of their e-mail address: their first initial and part of their last name. Directory IDs are between three and eight alphanumeric characters long and can be used, in combination with a password, to access university systems like Testudo while you’re an active student. The Directory ID and Password combination will gradually replace the SID and PIN combination for logging in to university systems over the next few semesters. After you graduate, it is possible that your Directory ID could be reassigned to someone else.


Over time, your U ID Number will replace your SSN as the primary person identifier used on university records. Each employee and student has been randomly assigned one of these nine-digit numbers. Each number is unique and, unlike your Directory ID, can never be reused. Your U ID Number links your database records, making it easier to access your information.

“For a long time, Social Security Numbers were used as primary identifiers because they were a logical choice—everyone has one and no two are the same!” said Dave Robb, Registrar. “Social Security Numbers will still be required for employees and will soon be required as a condition of admission for students, but over time will no longer be the primary identifier. SSN is used for administering financial aid programs, complying with state and federal reporting requirements, generating federal tax and financial aid reports/forms, and exchanging student data between post-secondary institutions. But in today’s Digital Age, we are committed to protecting the privacy of our students and staff and preventing identity theft, which is why this change is so important.”

Beginning in June 2003, incoming students have had their U ID Numbers displayed on the front of their student ID card. Current students can check to see what their Directory ID and U ID Number are by checking and selecting the link entitled Search for Your University Directory Entry by UMID/SID & PIN.