Scholarly Collaboration in the Digital Age

Today’s the NITLE conference on campus, beginning with a plenary panel on Scholarly Publication. My paper (based on my article, “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts”) was first, allowing me to relax and pay attention to the rest of the papers — which is great, because the next two papers were by Tim Burke and Laura Blankenship. My notes are below the fold; stupidity therein is my fault, not theirs.

Tim Burke, “Q: Should I Write My Next Book Online? (A: Probably Not)”

— Institute for the Future of the Book, Gamer Theory, Siva’ Googlization of Everything
— do I want to be producing a long-form work online? why would I want to? how is it good for me?
— creates larger, more robust context for the things we already do with one another in our scholarly network — is my take viable? is there something I’ve missed; much faster way of seeking information (blegging); creates working groups in a broader way; public pressure to work; self-promotion
— more altruistic reasons: moral imperative to open-source scholarship; challenges to monopolies of scholarly knowledge; demystifying the work of scholarship
— what are scholars afraid of? might get scooped (but might happen anyway); might alert target of critique, closing doors; might reveal how much we don’t know about something; might attract trolls or other unwanted commenters (depleters); might attract no one at all; might attract someone who will try to take over project or consider you a threat; might not be able to publish end project as book afterward; might not want exposure; might be (certainly will be) more work
— next project: general history of Africa, intended for broader audience; synthesis of existing research, but with new twists — clear idea of what he wants to do
— best project online: maximum familiarity to digerati (or no one will come); medium polarization around issue (or there will be no discussion); medium specialization (or not much will be gained by networking it)
— Tim’s project: very low number of digerati in Africa, or knowledgeable about Africa; very highly polarized issues; pretty highly specialized
— Gamer Theory and The Googlization of Everything define the best points on the graph

Laura Blankenship: “Putting it all out there: Why I blogged my dissertation”

— decision to restart dissertation, but working in isolation, far away from advisors and scholarly community
— fears about working in public as Tim listed
— topic was about students writing in public; practicing what diss preached
— blog: Blogical Construction; posted pdfs of chapters, but also blog posts of messy stuff leading to chapters
— definitely more work rather than less, but work was really necessary for what she was doing
— results: important networking, validation; better knowledge position from which to advise students
— lessons learned: would probably be better for a shorter form project; problems with blog form’s reverse chronological order — couldn’t rework blog to look more like wordprocessing document; upkeep was a bit prohibitive — moved some meta stuff to personal blog
— now what do you do with that space? turning it into a reading journal?
— difficulty of maintaining public scholarship over long periods of time faced by all academic bloggers

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