Thursday, December 2, 2004
IU professor launches leading Web site for Latino studies
|Assistant Latino Studies Professor Antonio de la Cova shows
off his Web site www.latinamericanstudies.org. The site has
gotten more than 2.5 million hits since it was launched in January. David Bracho/ Indiana Daily Student
Information offers perspective on U.S.-Latin America ties
by Nate Gowdy
Indiana Daily Student
During a recent trip to Miami, something caught Assistant Professor Antonio de la Cova's eye.
Not only was it familiar, but it was his own work used without his authorization.
Sen. John Kerry's campaign was just as impressed with his Web site, which focuses on Latin America, Latinos and relations between the United States and Latin America, as the rest of the world.
"I was handed a campaign postcard that read, 'John Kerry and Latin America together,'" de la Cova said. "The postcard's tile-shaped flag graphics looked very familiar, and sure enough, they were mine, copied straight from the homepage of my Web site."
Even though his Web site has recently attracted wide-spread attention, it has been seven years since de la Cova, a Latino Studies visiting assistant professor, created what he thought was a much-needed Internet outlet.
Now, 2.5 million hits and a quarter million visitors since January, his theory has been proven correct.
De la Cova felt his site, www.latinamericanstudies.org, was not only needed, but also would be used as a primary resource to IU students.
De la Cova, the creator of the comprehensive Web site, is under a two-year contract as a joint-hire with the Office of Strategic Hiring and Support and is proud that his site has become the principal Latino studies resources site on the Internet, he said.
"It's the only portal that contains more than 35,000 links, 5.95 gigabytes in all, to Latin American studies subject-matter," de la Cova said. "If you do a Google search for 'Latino studies' you will get sites that mostly describe Latino studies programs but are not sources for electronic research resources."
There is nothing else online that is as extensive and comprehensive, with up-to-date material, de la Cova said. The site is a main hit under Google searches for practically any Latin America studies-related material.
The site began on Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's operating system. After de la Cova's move to Bloomington more than a year ago, he learned IU only allows professors 100 megabytes of server space and charges an annual fee for any further allocation beyond the initial usage of megabytes.
"It would have cost me more than $2,000 annually to keep it on the University's system," de la Cova said.
Undeterred, the professor bought his own server and began his own maintenance on the Web site.
But while providing a valuable public service, de la Cova said the upkeep takes a tremendous amount of time.
"To keep the site current, I spend two to three hours each day reading through 15 bilingual publications," de la Cova said. "It's an ongoing work-in-progress, and there is no end in sight."
Even though it is the University's policy not to have any affiliation with sites outside of its operation system, the Web site has garnered much recognition for Latino studies at IU.
The program's founding director, Professor Jorge Chapa, said de la Cova receives dozens of e-mails -- nationally and internationally -- from students, the public and professors who assign the site to their students.
"I know that Professor de la Cova has gotten many extremely-positive comments from users who have found it to be very useful," Chapa said. "His Web site is an extensive collection of extremely useful, fascinating items for those focused on Latinos in the U.S. and in Latin American issues."
John Nieto-Philips, an associate professor of Latino Studies, agreed that de la Cova's site provides a valuable public service and is an excellent teaching tool.
"It helps students, researchers and historians to reflect on how Latinas and Latinos are changing the face of American society and politics," Nieto-Phillips said. "It contains news articles that highlight how contemporary issues have historical roots dating back several generations and, in that sense, it is a very useful place to go for anyone interested."
-- Contact staff writer Nate Gowdy at email@example.com.