Monday, November 14, 2005

Do not fear the blog

On Cafe Apocalypsis, Alan Bandy mentions an excellent response to Ivan Tribble article previously mentioned. It is in the Chronicle of Higher Education today:

Do Not Fear the Blog
By REBECCA A. GOETZ
. . . . I blog first and foremost because it is downright fun to participate in an emerging media form. Blogs and the blogosphere are new concepts, and the possibilities for scholarly communication are endless and exciting. Because I blog I now have contacts, online and offline, with a variety of scholars inside and outside my field. They don't particularly care that my dissertation is not yet done; the typical hierarchies of the ivory tower break down in the blogosphere so that even graduate students can be public intellectuals of a kind.

Professor Tribble lamented that blogs are not peer-reviewed and wrote that that was one reason why their content was illegitimate. While it is true that the author of a blog decides what she publishes on her blog, she does not blog in a vacuum. Other bloggers can -- and do! -- react to faulty logic or misinformation. . . . .
There's more good sense in every line of the article than there is in either Ivan Tribble's initial article, or his follow up They Shoot Messengers, Don't They? (2 September) put together.

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the support! I'm hoping this column will put the "academic blogging controversy" to rest...

Jeff Peterson said...

Interesting discussion, in part because it recapitulates in microcosm the "blogs vs. mainstream media" argument that's been roiling in the US since (at least) the 2004 election campaign. In academia as in politics, blogs have the potential to break down the barriers that sustain the information establishment as presently configured; anyone who thinks formal peer review is a guarantee of accuracy should survey the CBS National Guard memo controversy. The academic version of this prejudice is exemplified for me by a remark I once heard addressed to a friend who had challenged an assertion in a lecture: "I'd think twice before arguing about the Apocrypha with an Ivy League OT professor." (But my friend had the better part of the argument if one consulted texts rather than reputations.) The blogosphere, e-lists, and other online fora are great equalizers and tend to reduce considerations aside from intrinsic persuasiveness. I guess the dynamic would be a little different if the hiring officers in graduate schools maintained the most prominent blogs; one might expect to see prospective candidates flooding the comments page with the likes of "That is the most persuasive argument I have ever seen, Professor Hoffenpfeffer. How do you do it?" But it seems much more likely that the energy in the academic blogosphere will be provided by rising faculty rather than fully established folks, and in blogging the latter open themselves to criticism and correction as much as anyone else. I've always respected the established scholars like Crossan, L├╝demann, and Allision who've signed on for extended discussions on Crosstalk for that reason. Here's to the democratization of academic argument!

Brian said...

"Professor Tribble lamented that blogs are not peer-reviewed and wrote that that was one reason why their content was illegitimate." Peer-reviewing is a great development, but should not confine,limit and indeed censor discourse; I take exception to the tyrannical and narrow idea that something which is not peer reviewed is automatically "illegitimate." Bosh! This is a distinctly Luddite sort of perspective. Blogging can be abused, just as any publication can be - healthy commentary is the way to address this problem.