Monday, August 15, 2005

The Chronicle: Colloquy Live Transcript

The Chronicle: Colloquy Live Transcript This deals with a lot of the same stuff I did in my previous post. One question that comes up in this that I only "waved at" (as my supervisor puts it;-)) is blogging and tenure, or recognition of blogging, not just among academics, but by that abstract 'academy' that decides what counts as scholarly contribution, and therefore affects promotion. Volokh suggests that blogging might be more about promoting scholarly work published elsewhere, and perhaps not as a recognized part of the credit-giving process. And he has a valuably tentative point, but I feel that blogging is about more than just conversing and interacting. I would like to believe that it has the potential to undermine the expensively superfluous conventional publishing industry that restricts the spread of knowledge. I'm not talking about publishing all writing in freely available digital formats that make remuneration for the authors difficult, or impossible. Some writing is a comodity on its own, and has a market as such. But academic writing is simply a means of communicating the real comodity: knowledge. We don't usually get paid directly for what we write, and when we do, our audience is so restricted by our careful guarding of our writing, that what we write seldom makes us money worth taking note of. Our stock and trade is education. We aquire knowledge in order to disseminate it. When we are recognized for that, the proliferation of researchers who don't care about teaching, and are consequently particularly bad educators who really don't have their students interests at heart (or even in the backs of their minds) will no longer be rewarded more than the true academics who educate, sometimes at the expense of producing that book that will get stuck on the back shelf of some library in some university, but never at the expense of knowledge, minds and enthusiastic student souls who will go on to educate others, or make use of all this data we are perpetuating.

Ok, rant over. And if the people about whom I am writing don't read this, it isn't from lack of trying on my part...

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