Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Debating digital scholarship

Here's another pic of academics engaged in a conventional academic literacy practice - sitting around around talking about a bit of text on a screen. In this case the event was a traditional debate, about the likelihood of untraditional practices like tweeting ever being regarded as prestigious enough to build a scholarly reputation on.

It was Martin Weller's idea, as he is proposing the motion that “In the next decade, digital scholarship (in open journals, blogs and social media) will achieve the same status in academic settings as traditional scholarship” at EdMedia 2011 next week and needed some practice!

Rob Farrow opposed the motion, with all the sophistry of a philosopy graduate with his tongue wedged firmly in his cheek.

The debate was light-hearted and interesting and I ended up voting against the motion, just to tease Martin, although I secretly wondered whether the proposal might not be right. After speaking first and thinking after (a failure of mine I admit), what I should have said was that traditional scholarship was likely to change quite a lot in the next decade under the impact of the public engagement agenda, and that digital communication was likely to be instrumental in this. In that sense, digital scholarship and traditional (engaged) scholarship are indeed likely to converge in practice. Whether the real status can be wrestled away from the academy's gatekeepers and/or the research industry's CEOs  in that timeframe is another question...

Anyway - good luck to Martin in the debate (judging by the preponderance of white male faces on the EdMedia website I'd have thought there would be no problem about them achieving the same status as traditional scholars whenever they liked! Thank goodness for Patrica Leigh)

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