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Gideon Burton

Great questions, Gary. My experiment here is not just with medium but with genre and audience. I sincerely believe more scholarship can be rhetorically adjusted to general (if not popular) consumption than is attempted. In fact, there are strong ethical arguments to do so (as the Open Access principle affects not just literal access, but intellectual access). One of the pride points of academia is that serious ideas only come in the garb of monographs and scholarly articles. I found Chris Anderson's Long Tail to be extremely stimulating intellectually--irrespective of any business dimensions. He combines art, culture, economics, technology--a host of fields synthesized in a very readable way. I should say another model might be Neil Postman. His Amusing Ourselves to Death had a populist tone, but was built on very solid communication theory and historical analysis. Now, if your question pertains to where does this sort of publication fit into my academic career, the answer is complicated by the fact that it does not and cannot by normal academic standards (as if a string of comments were tantamount to a real peer review! as though the self-publishing of a blog were a recognized mode of scholarly publication!); yet, the subject matter is (in my opinion) very consequential. So it is unlikely to contribute to a promotion file, but highly likely to contribute to promoting good ideas, good discussion, and an improved academia. The personal gain is already making it worth it, as I see my ideas shaping and being shaped. It's what I really wanted from an academic career. What could be greater than to see ideas mattering? That said, I can be a bit cavalier about not caring if my book either counts as scholarship or makes money, since I am tenured and do not need for it to do either. I hope that means I'm approaching this in much the same way as my students might--as amateurs who think they have something to say, and who get rewarded by feeling as though, through the process, that they really do.

Gary L. Hatch

I'm interested in the "blog to book" model, but I wonder if this works better for journalism or popular media than it does for scholarly publication. Chris Anderson is essentially a journalist, and *The Long Tail* became a management book. (Is profitable management consulting the next step?) Another good example is the *Julie & Julia*, a blog written by Julie Powell that became a best selling book and is in production as a movie. Is the point of having a blog to cash in? If not, then why not just leave the blog as a blog? Why turn it into a book? Is it because one can earn royalities on a book? (Or get P&T if it's a scholarly book?) Is this blog aimed at the trade market (editorial review with an eye toward sales) or the scholarly market (peer review with an eye toward fitting into a scholarly conversation.


Looks like this will be a great read. I can't wait for you to get it published.

The preface story of "Urbino's Pride" is the perfect way to introduce the overall topic, but the last sentence seems a bit harsh: "Academia, it's time to own your shame."

Isn't your intention to help bring academia along? Are you sure you want such a forceful frontal attack on the establishment? It may backfire and mentally push someone into a corner for the rest of the book and negatively taint their opinions of every thing else they read.

Michael Meadon

Hmmmmm.... it looks like the web ate my comment. The brief version: pre-publication peer-review is, imo, indispensable. (Though it could be improved by being made double-blind and by releasing reviewers names + comments with the paper). The web, it seems to me, will have (and already has had) the biggest impact on post-publication peer-review.

I'm looking forward to your arguments about this, though.


Really interesting and appealing: best of lucks in this enterprise.

I find that the issue of students, teaching, schools and so comes in and out of your scheme at random (or so it seems).

I guess it is absolutely needed to be dealt with here, but sometimes it gets messy with other concepts like science diffusion, quality, etc.

Separate, specific chapters for school and teaching issues?

Congrats for the initiative! :)

Pål Lykkja

Very interesting. I have one comment thougth:

"The librarian can be reborn as a concierge, broker, or midwife to research, teaching, and learning."

Why only focus on non-specialized librarians? You have subject specialist with over hundred years old traditions.

I think that "concierge, broker, or midwife" is to technical to fully describe the roles to academic librarians. Remember that the German academic librarian tradition from 1870's (Fachreferent) demanded a Phd degree before one specialized in librarianship. The reason for that was that they thought that deep knowledge in their fields was necessary to do a good job as an academic librarian. I think deep knowledge in a specific subject is even more important for doing good librarianship in an academic library in the digital world.

Gideon Burton

Thanks for the feedback, Steve. Your proposal regarding a change in peer review is something some are already trying (which I'll highlight in my upcoming blog post on that topic). After looking at your physics lab, I spent some time studying OpenWetWare, the courses offered, the associated blogs, the open lab notebooks, etc. This is something Jean-Claude Bradley opened my eyes to awhile back but I hadn't seen in action yet. Open Science is so much further along than other disciplines. I'm especially intrigued by the publication of protocols (especially "consensus" protocols--http://openwetware.org/wiki/Protocols). It may be that opening our methodologies will play as big a role in advancing knowledge as sharing data or results.

Steve Koch

Hi -- I found your blog post via Bora Zivkovic's friendfeed (http://friendfeed.com/coturnix) ... this project looks very cool! I'm very interested in following the progression, and contributing ideas here and there if I have them. For what they're worth, here're some comments on your sections above (numbered by chapter):

Preface. This is an interesting and relevant story that I hadn't heard before.

4. I am very interested in this chapter. I too think anonymous peer review is outdated and failing. As an evolutionary step, I would like editors to try out completely published and non-anonymous (but still assigned by editors) peer review. I view this as evolutionary, but probably many would still think it's too revolutionary.

5. I like this idea too. I think I've had some success towards this goal in an "open science" Junior Physics lab I teach. (http://openwetware.org/wiki/Physics307L:People)

8. I am totally confused by libraries and what they should do and what they're needed for. So I'll be interested in what you say in this chapter.

11. My preference would be for a more positive manifesto...focusing on the good things we can do, and less on the negatives. And I don't know that I'd agree that print paradigm is negatively impacting things on an absolute scale...just that its time for it to move aside.

OK, thanks for the great post!

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