Sept meeting on “Hacking the Academy”

Announcing the first meeting of the Fall 2010 semester for the Digital Scholars reading and discussion group, to be held:
Monday, September 20, 2010
10:30 am – 12:00 pm
in the conference-sized “smartroom” #107 in Strozier Library on the topic of

Hacking the Academy: Peer Review and Alternative Scholarly Production

When a digital humanist gets pictured on the front page of the New York Times national edition accompanied by a prominent article about one of his scholarly projects, it doesn’t take a reading group in digital scholarship to realize that something big is afoot. Indeed it is: a challenge to the very protocols of scholarly production, credentialing, and communication. What the Times noticed was an open-peer review project by the journal Shakespeare Quarterly, as well as an online book project called Hacking the Academy—“hacking” in the sense of refitting how we write, peer review, and publish to the possibilities of digitization and the internet. But if the title also sounds like a barbarian assault on the academy’s ivory tower, well…

For the first meeting of the Digital Scholars reading group, we will investigate several recent experiments in peer review and scholarly publishing on the web, all of which have received national media attention. Articles in the New York Times and The Chronicle will provide accessible introductions to the topic and what’s at stake. Then read and browse through the related materials below:

Cohen, Patricia. “Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review.” New York Times 23 Aug 2010. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/arts/24peer.html

Howard, Jennifer. “Leading Humanities Journal Debuts ‘Open’ Peer Review, and Likes It.” The Chronicle 26 July 2010. Web. http://chronicle.com/article/Leading-Humanities-Journal-/123696/

Cohen, Dan, and Tom Scheinfeldt, eds. Hacking the Academy: A Book Crowdsourced in One Week. Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. 21-28 May 2010. Web. http://hackingtheacademy.org/

Browse around the Hacking the Academy project, but definitely read the first article in the section on “Scholarship and Scholarly Communication”:

Cohen, Dan. “The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing.” Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog 5 March 2010. Web. http://www.dancohen.org/2010/03/05/the-social-contract-of-scholarly-publishing/

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. media commons press (n.d.). Web. (and forthcoming from NYU Press, Fall 2010). http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/mcpress/plannedobsolescence/

In Fitzpatrick, check out “Introduction: Obsolescence” with its three subsections.

Browse the Shakespeare Quarterly experiment (61.4, special issue on “Shakespeare and New Media,” ed. Katherine Rowe) http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/mcpress/ShakespeareQuarterly_NewMedia/

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2 thoughts on “Sept meeting on “Hacking the Academy”

  1. Good discussion about hacking the academy. I got the feeling that the academy didn’t even know we were talking about it from inside its archival organ (a.k.a the library).

    Out of all the readings we discussed, “The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing” from Dan Cohen’s blog interested me the most. I think our understanding of what it means to publish is shifting. It is not clear where that shift is going, but academic presses of the gatekeeper variety are ripe for a reimagining. Cohen’s blog post raises the question if we will continue to value a social contract between authors and readers where “we agree to spend considerable time ridding the manuscript of minor errors, and the press spends additional time on other corrections and layout, and readers respond to these signals—a lack of typos, nicely formatted footnotes, a bibliography, specialized fonts, and a high-quality physical presentations—by agreeing to give the book a serious read?” (that’s my question mark at the end of the quote from Cohen’s blogpost)

    I tend to think this social contract can’t last. The value of speed and collaboration appears to be lapping the desire for “nicely formatted footnotes” and “high-quality physical presentations.” Rather than trust editors and publishers, more readers want to decide on the value of content themselves (or at least be part of a perceived cohort of like-minded readers who crowd-source the value of content/information).

    I was intrigued by Paul’s comment that Steven Johnson has written/talked about a mode of publication where we write to make the internet smarter. The idea that we ought to produce texts to “feed the internet beast” is still knocking around in my head a little bit. It would be a whole new way to imagine writing and publishing.

  2. Pingback: The Big “O” of Open Scholarship / DH Openness and Giving Things Away | FSU Digital Scholars

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