There are a couple of interesting articles on The Guardian’s web site about blogs right now– or they were there last week, but I’m just finding them now. There’s this article, “Inside the Ivory Tower,” which is about things like this, an academic blog. A couple of the folks I regularly read have already written about this article a bit– here’s Collin’s take on it, and here’s Clancy’s thoughts on it. I agree with both of them, but I’d also like to emphasize the positive in this piece:
Steven Shaviro (www.shaviro.com/Blog), professor of English at Wayne State University, Detroit, says blogs could supplement the peer review system. “Academic writing and publishing depends on peer review. It serves as a filter to weed out slipshod work. But it is also constraining – the norms enforced by peer review, by dissertation advisers, journal editors and so forth, often have a built-in bias against new, experimental work. So I can see blogs as an alternative space for research, not replacing peer review but existing alongside it.”
For (Jill) Walker, blogs make academics more accountable for their theories. “If I write something about people, academically, and publish it online, they’ll find it and talk back in their blogs. I have to deal with that. I can’t stay safely in my ivory tower. And frankly, I don’t want to.”
A couple of thoughts, mostly self-serving, I will admit:
* I think that Shaviro is spot-on here: I don’t think blogs are going to replace peer reviewed publications, but I do think they can work well with them. This is what I tried to do with my recent Kairos article before it was finally published. And personally, I see this blog as a useful teaching tool in that I refer back to my blog to find readings and links for classes (I don’t assign my blog as reading for my students, though I suppose some of my students read this stuff directly). In other words, it’s about more than scholarship.
* Things were pretty exciting around here back in August because I wrote a couple of posts about the value of academic blogging and how I couldn’t understand why someone would post pseduoanonymously. This irritated a lot of pseduoanonymous bloggers, many of who commented on my blog and on their own blogs that take some issue with the idea of an academic blog. See, these two entries: “Hey, I’m popular with (pseudo)anonymous bloggers!” and “More thoughts and questions about pseudonyms and blogs.” See the comments and you’ll see what I mean, I think. I’m not the first person to talk about blogs as academic spaces and how that can (or can’t) be done anonymously, but I’m just happy that a “real” publication out there is at least saying that “credible” and academic blogging is possible.