Digital Scholarship

I must say, after listening to the session again, I could finally make some sense of it! Skip Ward’s post about the distractions of the chatbox, certainly are true for me. I’m glad to have listened to it again.

We started off by talking about blogs. What are the benefits of it, the properties? Blogging is a social occupation. You get to meet people, discuss a topic with them. It’s also democratic since everybody can give an opinion. It doesn’t matter if your posts are long or short, or even the content is of importance. In the big world out there you will probably find people to resonate with. On a professional or an informal level. When your post gets picked up by the online stream, you will get a lot of hits, but it remains unpredictable.

But, do blogs represent proper scholarship? Martin talked about different applicable domains, certain scholarly functions, etc. The talk was essentially about openness. Can we penetrate the traditional scholarship to make it open and free for anybody to access without losing its value(s) for the academic world. Somehow it saddens me that we are so caught up in this web of systems. These institutions that restrict our freedom. Make no mistake, I’m also guilty as charged! In my daily life I too encounter situations where I tend to uniform or institute the way things happen. Is this something typical human? What is it with our need to control? I know I tend to get a little naïve on this point, but why is this happening? A lot of the times I just don’t understand.

The digital scholarschip is a way to evade the traditional view because it’s open, networked and digital, Martin explained. But how do we recognize it? Using new technology like blogging is not often approved in a conservative system. It is even looked down upon! Martin goes as far as to say that senior people don’t get it. This last point is something I see on a daily bases. Somewhat older (for lack of a better word) people tend to reside in their ways of the past. Usually they made it “the hard way”. But is this a reason to impose this “hard way” on new generations that have grown up with completely new technologies? Technologies that enable us to deliver content in a much easier way. Do we need to toil with big encyclopedia? Do we need to wrestle with big books of antiquated information? I’m not saying these ways are bad, or that the information isn’t sound. I’m merely indicating that in new times, there may be new ways, new paths to thread!

It’s key to find the digital equivalents for the traditional ways of conduct. How will we guarantee an in depth study? How will we evaluate non-tangible papers? On the other hand we must beware of copying the traditional system into something digital but still “old school. We need change not polish up! “We continually make the error of subjugating technology to our present practice rather than allowing it to free us from the tyranny of past mistakes.” – Heppell (2001)

So, what is it to be a scholar? Who can be a scholar? Martin speaks of the classic views becoming blurred. Where in the past your affiliation with a university made you a scholar, the future will hold your sustained attribution in mind. The better your work, the better you are looked upon. Maybe this is a better way of being a scholar. To be judged by your actions and not your flag of affiliation.

To end, one final thing that struck me in the presentation. Martin talked about network weather (I love that word). It’s how social technology is impacting our lives. How it influences you. Through the networked world, the online world, there is a lot of communication that can change your choices in life. Like a review on a restaurant may change you dinner plans. But also the backchannel during a conference may have an impact on how you will evaluate it. We use twitter, streaming video, blogs, audio-feeds and so on, to express the things we are doing. This has a ripple effect on the world around us. In the same way universities, schools in general, will have to adapt their ways to this ever-changing world. “We should determine what goes, what stays and what comes.” is how Martin puts it. And I do agree.


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