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June 26, 2007

Perils of Web 2.0 scholarship?

Apropos to the preceding post, a firestorm has been brewing around this proto-article: viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace, which was posted to the author's blog as a non-academic essay. The author, a Ph.D. candidate at UC-Berkeley, muses on the essay's reception, which became amplified partly because the MSM (particularly the BBC) presented it as a data-backed study, which it is not (yet).

It strikes me that the culture of Web 2.0 (prototype and release early, build buzz and community, revise revise revise) is butting up against the culture of academic publishing (print what you can prove, peer review, cite sources). What are the pros and cons of each? On the one hand, putting out hypotheses early and getting lots of feedback and being able to iterate with a large constituency strikes me as a good way to align academic work with public interest and need (and in that respect reflects business's best practices for product development). On the other hand, there's considerable danger of propogating misinformation if the MSM or others treat proto-articles as final works (which they are wont to do, for scooping purposes).

When do you as an academic blogger feel that your work is sufficiently "ripe" to put on your blog? Or do you very carefully delineate between blogging and publishing?

- Gene Koo

June 26, 2007 in Scholarship -- online | Permalink


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