Academy 2.0: October 2005 Archives

Blogging Practices

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I mean to respond to Dylan's trackback on my post from yesterday, but not just yet. For right now, I recommend a visit. What he talks about there is precisely the same kind of motivation behind our work on CCC Online, and in the next day or two, I'll post something that details that connection.

For the moment, I want to call attention to Alex's "Blogging in the Plural", which is a piece of an essay that ended up on the cutting-room floor. Too bad, because in it, Alex offers an initial attempt at defining blogs not in terms of the artifacts or the artificers, but in terms of practices. To wit, he offers four:

  1. Networked communication
  2. Ongoing, reciprocal communication
  3. A low threshold for participation
  4. Transparency

Alex notes towards the end of the entry that the cultures of hacking and of scholarship draw on these themes as well, and in fact, this is something that I've been talking about lately with a couple of different people. I think I'd add a fifth category as well, which is "regularity" or "consistency" over time. Although the threshold for an individual entry is relatively low (both in terms of time and technical expertise), the broader commitment is fairly large, and the reciprocity makes this commitment sustainable. In other words, part of my motivation is self-generated, but part of it too comes from the fact that I know I have an audience, however small or large it happens to be.

The larger resonance here for me, though, is the way that we have (to a degree) mystified what it is that we do as academics. While this could easily be another "why don't we blog more" sort of rant, I'm not really in that kind of mood. I'm not always sold on the idea that we need to be more transparent, at least to the non-academic world, but otherwise, the issues of networking, reciprocity, and threshold seem to me to be academic practices that remain largely unremarked. I'm thinking here primarily of publication, although there are parallels to be drawn with other of our practices as well.

I'm constantly struck by how little we seem to understand or even talk about what it takes to publish, what publishing our work accomplishes (and in some cases, how little it can accomplish), what the real costs and rewards for our work are, etc. As I was preparing that talk a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like the height of obviousness to me to describe humanities scholarship as Long Tail work, and yet, I see indications all around me that we don't want to think of our work in that way: our aversion to collaboration, our inability to aggregate, our obsession with celebrity, etc. Hell, I have to fight every day to keep those things at bay--I love to imagine being paid lots of money to keynote conferences, to have my work read and discussed far and wide, to be semi-famous. But that's a Head reward system that disguises the more modest (but potentially longer lasting) rewards at the Tail end of things.

I feel like I'm blathering a little bit, and I've got other things to work on, so I'll end there for right now. Visit Dylan, visit Alex, and talk amongst yourselves.

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Academy 2.0?

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I've been thinking about this for maybe a couple of weeks or so, ever since my NFAIS talk (slides available here (scroll down to 10:45), cast coming soon as I can revise), and Alex's nice post applying O'Reilly's Web 2.0 overview reminds me to think about it more seriously.

I haven't been very good lately about posting my thoughts on Web 2.0, and what it might mean for academia, but one of the nascent plans in my head, in addition to adding the new category on my own space, was to open up a Technorati tag, and to encourage folks in our roughly defined neighborhood to start using it. I'm struck, for instance, by the way that George and others have been using tags to do their Teaching Carnivals, and it seems to me that this kind of approach could work well if a handful of us were to simply agree on a tag, and just use it when appropriate.

How about it?

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This page is a archive of entries in the Academy 2.0 category from October 2005.

Academy 2.0: November 2005 is the next archive.

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