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Archive for the 'Sociology' Category

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Columbia University Press at #ASA2017

Theory for the Working Sociologist

Headed to the American Sociologist Association Annual Meeting in Montreal? You can find Columbia University Press at Hall 220C in the Palais des Congrès de Montréal in Booth #703.

JOIN US IN BOOTH #703 ON:

Saturday, August 12th from 4:30-6:00 PM for a Meet-up & Signing with Fabio Rojas, author of Theory for the Working Sociologist. Aimed at undergraduate students, graduate students, journalists, and interested general readers who want a more formal way to understand social life, Theory for the Working Sociologist presents the underlying themes of sociological thought using contemporary research and plain language.

Sunday, August 13th from 1:30-2:30 PM for a Meet-up & Signing with Jason Schnittker, author of The Diagnostic System, which looks at the multiple actors involved in crafting the DSM and the many interests that the manual hopes to serve. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Sunday, August 13th from 2:30-3:00 PM for a Meet-up & Signing with Viviana A. Rotman Zelizer, author of Morals and Markets, newly reissued from our ”Legacy Editions” series. Morals and Markets is a pathbreaking study that explores the development of life insurance in the United States.

Catch our editor, Eric Schwartz, on panels on:

Saturday, August 12th from 10:30-12:10 PM”How to Publish in Theory at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Level 5, 512E.

Sunday, August 12th from 12:30-1:30 PM – “From Dissertation to Book” at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Level 5, 513C.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Writing The Diagnostic System

The Diagnostic System

“On the one hand, many people would point out what a success the DSM has been, how it had consolidated an otherwise unmanageable scholarly field. Even when offering some qualifications about certain diagnostic criteria, these folks were clearly supportive. On the other hand, it was not uncommon for me to encounter people who vigorously criticized the DSM, root and branch, finding very little validity in its definitions or even much of value to the manual as a whole. To them, we might do just as well to get rid of it altogether and replace the DSM with something else.

It seemed to me they both had a point. ” — Jason Schnittker

This week, our featured book is The Diagnostic System: Why the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders Is Necessary, Difficult, and Never Settled, by Jason Schnittker. Today, we are happy to present part two of an excerpt from the book’s introduction. You can read part one here.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Diagnostic System!

Writing The Diagnostic System
By Jason Schnittker

I wrote this book as a way to understand something I regularly encounter at academic meetings. I study psychiatric disorders, including what causes them, what consequences they have, and what people believe about them. The DSM has long played an important role in my life as a scholar, just as it has for virtually everybody else in the field. I provides us with a sort of lingua franca. I attend meetings with sociologists, like myself, but I also attend meetings with psychiatrics, physicians, and historians. We all study the same thing and have similar interests, but it was not uncommon for me to encounter two very different kinds of voices when it came to the DSM. On the one hand, many people would point out what a success the DSM has been, how it had consolidated an otherwise unmanageable scholarly field. Even when offering some qualifications about certain diagnostic criteria, these folks were clearly supportive. On the other hand, it was not uncommon for me to encounter people who vigorously criticized the DSM, root and branch, finding very little validity in its definitions or even much of value to the manual as a whole. To them, we might do just as well to get rid of it altogether and replace the DSM with something else.

It seemed to me they both had a point.

So I wanted to write a book that took a step back and asked why the classification of psychiatric disorders was always so fraught, and to offer arguments for why and how it might be controversial when we get around to writing DSM 6, 7, or 8.

The latest edition of the DSM is DSM-5. As with the editions before it, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the latest edition. What I think is especially remarkable about DSM-5, though, is how much more information its authors had in front of them when they wrote it. We know a lot more about psychiatric disorders today than we did in the 1970s, around the time DSM-III was being written. We know more about what causes psychiatric disorders, what psychiatric disorders look like at a neurological level, and some of the genes that put people at risk of developing a disorder. We also know a lot more about basic demographic patterns, including age and sex differences. DSM-5 was written by real experts. With all this as background, it was possible DSM-5 could have been a revolutionary change. But it really wasn’t. And, at least to me, it’s unclear how we can parlay our immense scientific knowledge about psychiatric disorders into better diagnostic criteria. (more…)

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

The Contested Ontology of Psychiatric Disorders, Part Two

The Diagnostic System

“This book seeks to answer three related questions: why the classification of psychiatric disorders is so difficult, why it is necessary to classify in the first place, and what problems (and solutions) follow from the kinds of classifications we create.” — Jason Schnittker

This week, our featured book is The Diagnostic System: Why the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders Is Necessary, Difficult, and Never Settled, by Jason Schnittker. Today, we are happy to present part two of an excerpt from the book’s introduction. You can read part one here.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Diagnostic System!

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

The Contested Ontology of Psychiatric Disorders, Part One

The Diagnostic System

“Perhaps because the symptoms of mental illness are so common and explanations so easy to grasp, the concept of mental illness invites controversy. When everyone knows something about sadness—about what it feels like, about what causes it—claims of authority, even with respect to official diagnosis, can appear unnecessary or dubious.” — Jason Schnittker

This week, our featured book is The Diagnostic System: Why the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders Is Necessary, Difficult, and Never Settled, by Jason Schnittker. Today, we are happy to present part one of an excerpt from the book’s introduction.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Diagnostic System!

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Book Giveaway! The Diagnostic System

The Diagnostic System

“In an area too often marked by advocacy and polemic, The Diagnostic System provides a well-informed, judicious, and, in fact, invaluable guide to a complex body of scholarship and controversy. Perhaps most important, it addresses those complex interrelationships between individual experience and the social, cultural, and institutional circumstances that in part constitute that experience. It is an important book on a foundational if elusive set of questions.” — Charles E. Rosenberg, Harvard University

This week, our featured book is The Diagnostic System: Why the Classification of Psychiatric Disorders Is Necessary, Difficult, and Never Settled, by Jason Schnittker. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue: Queens Masala

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“Far from becoming intimidated by the attention she attracts when she is on the subway in her burka, Aisha says that her mother enjoys riding on the subway. The stares they receive sometimes make them feel more foreign and different, but they still are proud to be in public in the city wearing clothing appropriate to their religious beliefs.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. For the week’s final post, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s second chapter, “Coping with Diversity Aboard the ‘International Express.’”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Asserting Their Rights to Be Different, New York Style

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“Notably, civil inattention is a skill consisting of giving accounts of one’s presence and intentions that these young riders must learn to assess and utilize. Riding in a group or alone helps them realize that they do not have to give up their identity in order to disappear into the crowd of riders. They can be New Yorkers and Muslim, New Yorkers and Hispanic, and so on as long as they are competent at riding the trains.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. For today’s post, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s seventh chapter, “Teenagers on the 7 Train.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

A Media Roundup for International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“You’ll meet people all over the world who will say, “Oh yeah, I used to live in New York. I used to ride the 7 train or 6 train. I used to get off [at] this station”—and they’ll tell you the station. They may have never succeeded in becoming Americans, or never wanted to, but they became New Yorkers, to the extent that they could use the transit system to get around.” — William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. Today, we are pleased to present excerpts from some of the great press attention that the book has received.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of International Express!

First, in The Atlantic‘s CityLab blog, Tanvi Misra interviews Tonnelat and Kornblum about what their ethnographic research on the 7 train has taught them about the subway line, New York, and the immigrant experience:

One of the young people cited in the book noted something very interesting: How a person swipes the Metrocard can divulge whether or not they live in the city. That anecdote highlights one of the main arguments you’re making in the book, that taking the subway helps newcomers assimilate and develop a common identity, not just as riders of a particular train line, but as New Yorkers. Could you talk about that?

Tonnelat: The competencies that people learn on the train are, in fact, urban competencies. They can be applied anywhere. That way, the subway opens up the city materially, through [access to different places around the city], but also socially.

Kornblum: You’ll meet people all over the world who will say, “Oh yeah, I used to live in New York. I used to ride the 7 train or 6 train. I used to get off [at] this station”—and they’ll tell you the station. They may have never succeeded in becoming Americans, or never wanted to, but they became New Yorkers, to the extent that they could use the transit system to get around.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Becoming New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“New Yorkers are proud, even boastful, about the city’s diversity, and in this study we seek to know more about the actual experiences of diversity as it occurs in daily life, primarily on one subway line, the 7 train. We look at how social diversity affects the riders and the functioning of the system itself.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s first chapter, “Becoming New Yorkers on the 7 Train.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Book Giveaway! International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“As a lifelong resident of Flushing and a lifelong rider of the Flushing line, I’m absolutely thrilled about this new book. Tonnelat and Kornblum have become one with the 7, a gritty transit spoke that for generations has doubled as a lifeline as it meanders seemingly halfway around the world right through a dozen neighborhoods in Queens.” — John Liu, former New York City comptroller and councilman

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Soul Dollars

Down the Up Staircase

“Harlem was full of contradictions for anyone who dared to look. Mamie Canty, my mother’s seamstress, was also a fulltime bookie for Harlem kingpin Nicky Barnes, one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Introducing Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“We owned a three-story brownstone in Harlem, the kind built for a rising moneyed class. Now it stood as a testament to our family’s rise and demise over the century. Its walls echoed the voices of three generations of a black middle-class family: the hard-won glories of my grandfather, the whispered regrets and concessions of my parents, the fall from grace of their firstborn, and the wrenching blow that came with the death of their second.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“Bruce D. Haynes’s story is a classic American tale—which combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story.” — Jeffrey Toobin

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. In today’s post, an excerpt from an article published at The Huffington Post, Choi-Fitzpatrick explains why he took his unique approach to researching modern slavery.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

Why I Chose to Research What Slaveholders Think
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

I often get asked why I wrote a book about contemporary slaveholders. Once people get over the fact that slavery still exists they want to know who on earth is out there, right now doing what it takes to exploit their fellow humans in the worst sort of way?

At the moment the contemporary anti-slavery movement has raised over a billion dollars, reduced the vulnerabilities of untold millions, and brought thousands out of exploitation. Yet we know little about the individuals committing these crimes. I’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years and can tell you this: we know as much about slaveholders today as we did about victims two decades ago; hardly anything.

I set out to change that. In conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people—perpetrators and their victims, local government officials and rights activists—a picture of the life and times of contemporary slaveholders began to emerge.

In case after case, slaveholders targeted by human rights groups told me that they missed the old days. They told me that they wished for a brighter future for their children but that they themselves had been overlooked. Rights groups, broad economic factors, powerful political players, and even their victims, now had all the power.

Some solutions to slavery and trafficking are easier to see once we factor in what slaveholders think. Recognizing that they themselves are only doing what they can to get by doesn’t justify criminality and abuse, but it does suggest that some more traditional development solutions—alternative livelihood projects and microcredit included—may hold potential for emancipation among both perpetrators and victims. Of course. for freedom to be sustainable minds must be changed—that’s why it’s as important as ever to focus community organizing and human rights empowerment efforts at grassroots struggles for freedom.

The goal is not to equivocate between bonded labor and impoverished slaveholders, but instead to emphasize that slavery is relational, emancipation is complex, and the goal of ending slavery in our lifetime will require strategies that address the reality of the situation rather than the way it may appear in our imagination.

Read the article in full at The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

What do slaveholders think?

What Slaveholders Think

“The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. Today, we are happy to present a short excerpt from an article by Choi-Fitzpatrick published at Aeon.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

What do slaveholders think?: It is everywhere illegal yet slavery persists in many corners of the global economy. How do its beneficiaries justify it?
By Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

Withholding pay and limiting opportunities to mobilise are important strategies for controlling workers. But all of this is done for the workers’ own good, Aanan insists. Though landlords complain about alcohol, such indulgences are also tactics for increasing debt. Rowdy festivals allow workers to blow off steam, effectively directing frustration away from their abusers. These events also allow workers to spend what little money they have, increasing the likelihood that they will remain dependent on the landlord’s line of credit.

When asked if he needs the workers or the workers need him, Aanan explains that: ‘The worker is my cash machine, my fate.’ In this one statement, he has captured a central contradiction inherent in most human-rights violations worldwide: exploitation takes place at the intersection of culture and capital, in the overlap between relationship and extraction, at the moment where care and exploitation intersect.

Long accustomed to power, slaveholders work hard to sustain their status and baulk at any hint of equality. One previously powerful employer confided to me that his community was in decline. ‘In the olden days … labourers used to work in their fields, they used to think of their work,’ he told me. Now, however, they freshen up after work and drink coffee and tea while talking about ‘unnecessary things’, an opportunity for democratic discourse that is ‘deviating their minds’.

The public square is celebrated by scholars of democracy as a pillar of free and open society. But to slaveholders this space is a cauldron of ‘enmity, ego, and hatred’. Free workers spending their free time talking about life is what gives democracy its vitality – no wonder it’s perceived to be a threat to those who have benefitted from the caste hierarchy. To the erstwhile slaveholder, leisure activities – talking, idling, drinking – are vices, tangible manifestations of social decline.

Read the article in full at Aeon.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets

What Slaveholders Think

“It is imperative to understand variation in exploiters and exploitation as well as the exploiters’ own perspectives on how their lives are changing. Perhaps we will then better understand the difficulties involved in securing sustainable emancipation.” — Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. To start the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from Choi-Fitzpatrick’s first chapter: “In All Its Forms: Slavery and Abolition, Movements and Targets.”

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of What Slaveholders Think!

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Book Giveaway! What Slaveholders Think, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick

What Slaveholders Think

“A much-needed and unique work. Our understanding of modern slavery holds virtually nothing on slaveholders. Such a study has always been seen as the Holy Grail, truly critical knowledge if we are to move forward, but always outside our ability to grasp. Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick also goes somewhere that few scholars in this area have gone—raising important, challenging questions about how slaveholders might be understood and rehabilitated.” — Kevin Bales, cofounder of Free the Slaves

This week, our featured book is What Slaveholders Think: How Contemporary Perpetrators Rationalize What They Do, by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Whose Identity? Which Politics?

Desegregating the Past

“Even when museums like the NMAAHC explore into painful content like racial violence and terrorism, it is seen as delving for the purpose of presenting a resilient identity narrative. And they do. But so does the National Museum of American History in its presentation of Americana, from Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to the two hundred year-old flag from the American Revolution. The relegation of museums like the NMAAHC to the stuff of identity politics neutralizes those driven by white nostalgia.” — Robyn Autry

The following is an excerpt from an article by Robyn Autry, author of Desegregating the Past: The Public Life of Memory in the United States and South Africa, originally posted at the Huffington Post.

Whose Identity? Which Politics?
By Robyn Autry

In the weeks following the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in late September, a historic presidency ended, and then hundreds of thousands of people converged on the National Mall as another shocking one began. The NMAAHC hosted a widely popular alternative inauguration organized by Busboys and Poets, increasing its symbolic power as a place of resistance and celebration. How can we make sense of the throngs of people still flocking to the Mall to visit that nation’s first black history museum in a political climate openly hostile to so-called identity politics?

The NMAAH is not an identity museum per se. Neither is the National Museum of the American Indian, nor the Latino and Asian Pacific history museums also under consideration. Or, at least they are no more driven by the desire to celebrate identity than the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum or the National Museum of American History, or even the National Air & Space Museum. In fact, all historical products, whether they be national museums or history textbooks, contain facts and fictions about who we are, or dream of being in relation to lives already lived and lost and those still in the making. In effect, they all offer different interpretations of how great America was (or wasn’t) and how we can all do better.

While there is nothing wrong with projects aiming to interpret or represent collective identities, ‘identity-driven’ is a label used to distinguish them from those museums viewed as more objective or less biased. Museums dedicated to representing the lives and cultures of people of color are seen as self-affirming celebrations that some see as divisive and fixated on what makes us different. Critics also charge that these museums offer less historical context and material evidence or artifacts, relying instead on personal testimonies, multimedia displays, and sweeping summaries. In short, they are thought to be touchy-feely. Even when museums like the NMAAHC explore into painful content like racial violence and terrorism, it is seen as delving for the purpose of presenting a resilient identity narrative. And they do. But so does the National Museum of American History in its presentation of Americana, from Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to the two hundred year-old flag from the American Revolution. The relegation of museums like the NMAAHC to the stuff of identity politics neutralizes those driven by white nostalgia.

After decades of political maneuvering, fundraising, and development, the NMAAHC opened on September 24, 2016. Televised and streamed online, the extraordinary occasion was marked by heartfelt words from President Obama, Congressperson John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith, and musical performances of Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle and Angélique Kidjo. Even more noteworthy, were the 30,000 ordinary people who visited the first weekend, and the tens of thousands who have followed them. With lines circling the building, the museum has been so popular that timed-passes are still being used to manage crows and to allow more people to traverse the 350,000 square foot museum. The passes available online are booked through June 2017, with a limited number being offered for same-day visitors.

How can we account for such keen interest in the museum, from the millions of dollars raised to the thousands of people clamoring to get inside? It’s as much about an insistence that identity is indeed political, as it is about collective yearnings to see that which has been kept off limits, to venture into those spaces that unsettle official accounts and expose the social fissures we already fully know exist.

Read the article in full at the Huffington Post.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

A Look Inside a “Conversational Firm”

The Conversational Firm

“Most interesting to me was the fact that this company, which was so vocal about rejecting conventional bureaucracy, ended up adopting some bureaucratic practices over time—but this happened precisely because employees used their voices to speak up and say when certain conventional practices that had been rejected would not be useful. It struck me that a whole new model was emerging, one in which cross-hierarchical conversation was a central mechanism for confronting business challenges.” – Catherine Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Today, for the final post of the week, we are happy to provide a short excerpt from an interview with Turco conducted by Kara Baskin for MIT Sloan School’s Newsroom. You can read the interview in its entirety here.

What new approach to communication did you find inside TechCo?

What most excited me was the realization that there is a new organizational model that companies can shoot for today. I believe this model has become possible—and perhaps even necessary—on account of the communication technologies now available and the habits and expectations that today’s employees bring into the workplace. I call the model the “conversational firm,” and it’s the idea that organizations can have far more open dialogue across the corporate hierarchy than we ever before thought possible. (more…)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Employees Speaking Up: The TechCo Wiki

The Conversational Firm

“Perhaps most interesting, the employees’ upward communication on the wiki was so startlingly open at times that I found myself wondering if this might be a setting in which employees had finally transcended all the theorized barriers to ‘speaking up’ to hierarchy…. Such public voice and dialogue simply have no precedent in past accounts of corporate life.” — Catherine J. Turco

This week, our featured book is The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media, by Catherine J. Turco. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Turco’s account of the TechCo internal wiki.