Hacking the Academy
New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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On May 21, 2010, we posted these intentionally provocative questions Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly We asked for contributions to a collectively produced volume that ...
Why "Hacking" ?
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As a fan of Oulipo and Oubapo, the notion of trying to crowdsource the meat of an edited volume in a single week is particularly exciting to me. I think that imposing constraints, even arbitrary ones, can be a very effec-tive technique that can foster creative thought, new ideas, and force one to reassess convention. Which, of course, is all in keeping with the very ...
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Getting Yourself Out of the Business in Five Easy Steps
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Last year, did you get paid nothing to work hard for a multinational corpo-If you have (1) done peer reviews for, (2) submitted an article to, (3) written a book or media review for, or (4) taken on the editorship of a scholarly journal published by giant firms such as Springer, Reed Elsevier, or Wiley, then you belong to a very large group of very well- educated ...
Burn the Boats/Books
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When Marc Andreesen, the entrepreneur behind the first mainstream web browser, was interviewed by the popular technology blog, TechCrunch, on the future of publishing— in particular, journalism— his provocative response was “burn the boats.” What he was referring to was the moment Cortez, fleeing from Cuba, and landing in Mexico, ordered his troops to ...
Reinventing the Academic Journal
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The web is thirsty for efficient, effective ways of retrieving useful information about the state of the field. This pressure creates an enormous market for those instruments that help individuals locate authoritative discourses and situated scholarship, and this, of course, is one of the traditional roles Academic journals are in the course of rethinking their management, ...
Reading and Writing
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The way we’re taught to read is diametrically opposite the way we’re taught to write. We learn to read books and articles quickly, under pressure, for the key points or for what we can use. But we write as if a learned gentleman of leisure sits in a paneled study, savoring every word. Books and articles are clogged with prose no one but first- year graduate students and ...
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The science fiction writer Harlan Ellison once described a stunt in which he sat in the window of a bookshop all day, writing a story. He was curious about what would happen if writing became a public spectacle rather than the mysterious, solitary endeavor it usually is. That scene piqued my imagination and stuck with me, enough so that when I explored the idea ...
The Crisis of Audience and the Open-Access Solution
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When my daughter Eleanor, now twenty- one, was about three years old, she had an imaginary friend. One day I asked her friend’s name. “Audience,” she said. Today, Eleanor has real friends; it’s the humanities scholar We hear often, these days, of a crisis in scholarly publishing, usually attributed to the rise in the cost of science, technical, and medical seri-...
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Raising the idea of open- access publishing among contemporary schol-ars produces an immediate and sometimes surprising set of responses— ranging from enthusiasm, to anger, to befuddlement. The open- access movement has a wide range of proponents and an often- entrenched opposition, and the depth of feeling on both sides often leaves those scholars in ...
Open Acess and Scholary Values: A Conversation
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There is a supply side and a demand side to scholarly communication. The supply side is the creation of scholarly works, including writing, peer review, editing, and the form of publication. The demand side is much more elusive— the mental state of the audience that leads them to “buy” what the supply side has produced. In order for the social contract to work, ...
Voices: Sharing One's Research
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There is a long history of scholars turning their papers over to libraries at the end of their careers. These collections are important for the two sides of historical research and publication that they represent. They provide a window into academic processes, but also access to sometimes quirky, sometimes exhaustive, primary sources, representing years of intentional ...
Making Digital Scholarship Count
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As more and more scholars do work in the digital environment they are expecting this work to count toward tenure, promotion, and other types of formal evaluation. It seems to me that the first step is to define what we actually mean when we say that digital work should “count” in higher education. At most colleges and universities around the United States— ...
Theory, Method, and Digital Humanities
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The criticism most frequently leveled at digital humanities is what I like to call the “Where’s the beef?” question— that is, what questions does digital humanities answer that can’t be answered without it? What humanities Concern over the apparent lack of argument in digital humanities comes not only from outside our young discipline. Many practicing digital ...
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I’m about to say something a college professor shouldn’t say to his stu-dents, but I care about you a lot so I’m prepared to break the code and say what needs to be said: Your college experience is likely to set back your education, your career, and your creative potential. Ironically, this will be done in the name of education. You deserve to know about this! You have ...
Lectures Are Bullshit
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The following is an excerpt from Jeff Jarvis’s talk at TEDxNYED, an inde-pendent regional version of the TED conferences, with their spotlighted lectures. Jarvis took the opportunity to turn against this form of academic Right now, you’re the audience and I’m lecturing. That’s bullshit.What does this remind of us of? The classroom, of course, and the ...
From Knowledge to Knowledgeable
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Most university classrooms have gone through a massive transformation in the past ten years. I’m not talking about the numerous initiatives for multiple plasma screens, moveable chairs, round tables, or digital white-boards. The change is visually more subtle, yet potentially much more transformative. I recently wrote about this in an Encyclopedia Britannica ...
Voices: Classroom Engagement
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Sometimes it seems to me that whenever things go wrong in college teaching, the first impulse of the professor is to blame the students. They aren’t prepared for class. They don’t want to grapple with the hard concepts. They don’t want to read what I assign. They do all their work at the last minute. And now come laptops, smartphones, and other digital devices. ...
Digital Literacy and the Undergraduate Curriculum
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The notion of digital literacy is sometimes criticized for being overused and having multiple definitions. Those are real problems, but they are also opportunities. I actually like the phrase for people’s familiarity with it and for that very richness of meanings, and I’ve viewed the goals of my undergraduate digital history course through some of those definitions....
What's Wrong with Writing Essays: A Conversation
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I have become increasingly disillusioned with the traditional student paper. Just as the only thing a standardized test measures is how well you can take a standardized test, the only thing a student essay measures is how well a student can conform to the rigid thesis/defense model that— surprise!— eliminates complexity, ambiguity, and most traces of critical ...
Assessment versus Innovation
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Most of us think that the current emphasis on assessment is a contemporary phenomenon. In fact, the rationale for testing, grading, assessing, and evaluating in a quantified fashion goes straight back to the dawn of the assembly line and the modern office; back to the beginning of education schools and business schools. If you look at most educational institutions, ...
A Personal Cyberinfrastructure
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Cyberinfrastructure is something more specific than the network itself, but it is something more general than a tool or a resource developed for a particular project, a range of projects, or, even more broadly, for a particular discipline. Sometimes progress is linear. Sometimes progress is exponential: according to the durable Moore’s Law, for example, computing power doubles ...
Voices: Learning Management Systems
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The problem with learning management systems lies in the conjunction of three words that should not appear together. Learning is not something that can be managed via a system. We’re not producing widgets here— we’re attempting to inspire creative thought and critical intelligence. Learning management systems have dominated online education up until ...
Hacking the Dissertation
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When I teach, I’m constantly asking my students to work in open and collaborative spaces. I prefer student work that faces outward: wikis, Twitter, blogs, game projects, etc. Like Mark Sample, I believe that the student essay is flawed—“ a compressed outpouring of energy . . . that means nothing to no one.” Can’t the same be said of my dissertation? To a large extent, that’s even expected. The dissertation is the large work that stands as a bridge to future research. Writing it...
How to Read a Book in One Hour
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As children, we are taught that reading is always linear: you start on page one and end on page three- hundred- and- sixty- seven, and skipping pages is cheating. That is the way you read all through school, and the way most people read their whole lives. Once you get to graduate school, however, You are no longer reading books for the stories contained inside. You ...
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The Absent Presence: A Conversation
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Brian Croxall didn’t have enough money to attend the annual convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA) in 2009 in Philadelphia. He was supposed to give a talk at the meeting, but instead another attendee, Sheila Cavanagh, read his candid paper about his situation to a large audience. This year was to be my fourth year in a row attending MLA. I spoke in ...
Uninvited Guests: Twitter at Invitation-Only Events
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Invitation- only gatherings are often designed as specific interventions in a certain scene or subdiscipline, and therefore a lot of care goes into identifying and recruiting participants who are either positioned to make a desired intellectual contribution to the immediate proceedings, or to synthesize and take the work of a group forward after the lights go out in the ...
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While the term “unconference” has been applied— or self- applied— to a wide variety of events, it usually refers to a lightly organized conference in which the attendees themselves determine the schedule. In most cases, unconferences attempt to avoid the traditional unidirectional paper model in favor of meaningful and productive conversations around democrati-...
Voices: Twitter at Conferences
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Buried within the sense that the 140- character form trivializes our work— a complaint about condensation that might not be so far removed from faulting poetry for its failure to present extended realist narratives— is an implied concern about who it is that sees us being trivial. This is a con-cern that has dogged public scholarly work for eons, from those scholars ...
The Entropic Library
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In the United States, over the past century, the practice of health care has transitioned from being a largely distributed and generalist profession to a much more corporatized and specialized one. It is a change that many greet with regret, despite the obvious advances in health care. One of our cultural touchstones is a romanticized image of the doctor or caregiver ...
The Wrong Business for Libraries
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Our academic libraries have been in the wrong business for about 150 years. It was in the mid- to late nineteenth century that they began to be characterized as storehouses or warehouses of information. This information- centered model is a mistake. Before then, they were not stand- alone col-lections of books, but great complexes of mental and physical activity, and ...
Reimagining Academic Archives
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...‘Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a ‘In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control Archives are rarely created for the express purpose of being preserved, but develop organically as people live their— typically chaotic— lives. Archivists— many of whom serve in university archives and manuscript ...
Interdisciplinary Centers and Spaces
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I’ve been around digital humanities centers for a long time— fifteen years at least. I’ve worked at them— in positions ranging from parttime staff member to Fellow— consulted for them, given speeches at various openings and anniversaries, and been present at a few center funerals. So, I’m always interested in how these things get started and how they end....
Take an Elective
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Tasked with establishing a university for Catholics in Ireland in the 1850s, Cardinal John Henry Newman distilled his understanding of the university as a place for teaching, learning, and conversation where inquiry is pushed forward. Though Newman was focused on the undergraduate education of men, by men, his insights hold import for all of us, including those of ...
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Many institutions pride themselves on encouraging interdisciplinary scholarship. However, the reality is that it is much easier to have a traditional, one- field identity— e.g., English, geology, physics, etc.— than it is to create and maintain an interdisciplinary identity. The very structure of most universities is based on a model of one scholar, one discipline— the ...
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An Open Letter to the Forces of Change
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So you want to hack the academy? I can’t tell you how to do it. I can ask you a few well- intentioned questions, though, because journalists ask questions. These are a few that have occurred to me as I do what I do: write about academic publishing; go to conferences; talk to scholars, editors, publishers, and librarians; and generally get my feet wet in the ...
The Trouble with Digital Culture
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One of the problems with studying any medium is that it’s too easy to mistake the part for the whole. Literature professors can confidently chart the development of the novel over centuries by referencing only a tiny well- regarded sliver of all novels published— some immensely popular, and others forgotten. When you turn to the broader field of print culture, ...
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Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 2 Figures, 12 Color Halftones
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Digital Humanities