Post Hacking the Academy Post

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.


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