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October 08, 2005

To Dismiss Academic Blogging Is A Bad Idea

"Henry Farrell, The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 7, 2005 (accessible only to subscribers). Excerpt:

While blogging has real intellectual payoffs, it is not conventional academic writing and shouldn't be an academic's main focus if he or she wants to get tenure. But to dismiss blogging as a bad idea altogether is to make an enormous mistake. Academic bloggers differ in their goals. Some are blogging to get personal or professional grievances off their chests or... to pursue nonacademic interests. Others, perhaps the majority, see blogging as an extension of their academic personas. Their blogs allow them not only to express personal views but also to debate ideas, swap views about their disciplines, and connect to a wider public. For these academics, blogging isn't a hobby; it's an integral part of their scholarly identity. They may very well be the wave of the future. Look at what's happening in the disciplines of law and philosophy... In both of those disciplines, those who don't either blog or read and comment on others' blogs are cutting themselves out of an increasingly important set of discussions... Academic blogs offer the kind of intellectual excitement and engagement that attracted many scholars to the academic life in the first place, but which often get lost in the hustle to secure positions, grants, and disciplinary recognition. Properly considered, the blogosphere represents the closest equivalent to the Republic of Letters that we have today... While blogging won't replace academic publishing, it builds a space for serious conversation around and between the more considered articles and monographs that we write....Once you get used to this rapid back-and-forth, it can be hard to return to the more leisurely pace of academic journals and presses. In the words of the National University of Singapore philosophy professor and blogger John Holbo, the difference between academic publishing and blogging is reminiscent of "one of those Star Trek or Twilight Zone episodes where it turns out there is another species sharing the same space with us, but so sped up or slowed down in time, relatively, that contact is almost impossible."... Cross-blog conversations can turn the traditional hierarchies of the academy topsy-turvy... This openness can be discomfiting to those who are attached to established rankings and rituals -- but it also means that blogospheric conversations, when they're good, have a vigor and a liveliness that most academic discussion lacks... Most important, the scholarly blogosphere offers academics a place where they can reconnect with the public... Blogging democratizes the function of public intellectual."

Source: Peter Suber. Open Access News (5 Oct 2005) [FullText]

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