Thursday, July 27, 2006
ipse dixit doesn't end it ::

What is the role of "authority" in scholarship? AKMA posts ("Scholars and Oracles") on the ways we use "so-and-so said it" or an appeal to authority in both everyday life and in scholarship.

The post struck home, as I've just been in marking-mode (when I've not been miserable with flu) for months (don't worry, both are pretty much over now). One of my criteria for most assignments is "use of evidence" and I regularly find myself commenting to students:
As you read do not forget to ask: How do you I know that? As you write remember to provide answers for your reader.
Sometimes I even put it stronger with comments like:
... and if no answer is available be aware that you do NOT know "that"!
And yet, scholarly articles and monographs regularly and habitually cite "authorities". And [To start a second sentence with a conjunction!] if peer review works "authorities" should be (at least somewhat) authoritative. And yet [See, now I've started I cannot resist!!] scholarship is surely about evidence and argument, not about authority!

I think AKMA makes good points about our need to rely (more?) on authorities outside our Fields of expertise, but like him I'm uncomfortable with that...

;-) Ah, how simple were the "good old days" when ipse dixit ended the affair. ;-)

Saturday, July 22, 2006
IF Book: reimagining the scholarly commons ::

The Institute for the Future of the Book is home to several interesting projects. Not least attempts to reimagine scholarly publishing. Both their blog and the Electra Press blog have a cross-post by KF introducing the project that has developed out of a consultation earlier this year: MediaCommons. This will attempt to reimagine scholarly publishing among media studies scholars.

KF notes the three aspects that are common to most definitions of the role of scholars: teaching, research, and service. She suggests that a reimagining of the "University Press" needs to allow much closer interrelationships of all three aspects. Electronic networks should facilitate such integration.
We believe, however, that the goals of scholarship, teaching, and service are deeply intertwined, and that a reimagining of the scholarly press through the affordances of contemporary network technologies will enable us not simply to build a better publishing process but also to forge better relationships among colleagues, and between the academy and the public.
The various nodes in this network will support the publication and discussion of a wide variety of forms of scholarly writing.
Since new media scholarship will involve rich media rather than just text:
The various nodes in this network will support the publication and discussion of a wide variety of forms of scholarly writing.
Those nodes may include:
- electronic "“monographsÂ" (Mackenzie Wark'’s GAM3R 7H30RY [an IF Book project] is a key model here), which will allow editors and authors to work together in the development of ideas that surface in blogs and other discussions, as well as in the design, production, publicizing, and review of individual and collaborative projects;

-– electronic "“casebooks,"” which will bring together writing by many authors on a single subject - a single television program, for instance -— along with pedagogical and other materials, allowing the casebooks to serve as continually evolving textbooks;

-– electronic "“journals,"” in which editors bring together article-length texts on a range of subjects that are somehow interrelated;

- electronic reference works, in which a community collectively produces, in a mode analogous to current wiki projects, authoritative resources for research in the field;

-– electronic forums, including both threaded discussions and a wealth of blogs, through which a wide range of media scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and users are able to discuss media events and texts can be discussed in real time. These nodes will promote ongoing discourse and interconnection among readers and writers, and will allow for the germination and exploration of the ideas and arguments of more sustained pieces of scholarly writing.
One consequence of the envisaged approach is that "the process of scholarly work [will become] just as visible and valuable as its product".

They envisage a renewed "peer-to-peer" review process which:
will shift the purpose of such review from a gatekeeping function, determining whether or not a manuscript should be published, to one that instead determines how a text should be received.
It will also be both public (with comments attributed to their authors) and flexible, authors can retrieve work from public review to adapt it in the light of comments, and of course two way, one may reply to reviewers and continue the interaction...

This is exciting stuff, and a project I plan to follow with interest.

BTW I have not posted much for weeks, first because I was busy with the end of the first semester and marking, then because I was ill with the worst flu I can remember, which canceled our plans for a week's holiday, and has left me tired and run down - however, I hope to begin posting more often very soon!

Friday, July 07, 2006
Marking over, but could have been MUCH sooner ::

Hurray! The marking is finished, finally, and just in time for us to fly away to the South Island for a week (preaching two Sundays, holiday between).

Of course if I had not spent so many hours in meetings over the last 4 weeks (nearly one week of them!) I'd have finished the marking a whole week earlier ;-)

Maybe someone could point out this post more widely ;)

The myth of the 1 hour meeting.

I especially like the first comment:
a system in conference rooms that calculated the meeting's total salary-cost. Attendees would login at the beginning of the meeting, software would access attendees' salaries, and a screen would display a running total of cumulated wages.
Just imagine the reaction in some cash strapped tertiary institutions of there was such a clock ticking away the salary bill at every "meeting"... we'd soon have less!

Of course, dear reader, this post is a "rant", in real life some meetings are essential and others very valuable. Often efficient communication depends on meetings, or on the circular email - though I could wish more people thought six times before forwarding things, if I got a dollar for every multiple copy I got of some announcements for conferences I do not intend to attend, I'd be able tyo buy lunch out! - it's just that not all the meetings are essential, and many are less valuable than the wages bill...
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