There is a post at one of the great academic web projects, the New Testament Gateway Blog, on the WikiScanner. Dr. Mark Goodacre, now at Duke, has been thinking for a bit about the future and direction of his own project which has grown into an incredible endeavor. Several things here are of interest to me:
- The world is in the midst of perhaps one of the first truly global paradigm shifts with the rise of the Internet. It involves data, who can access it and how it is communicated. We’re all still trying to figure out what it means but one thing is clear: it’s not going to go away. Particularly in this context–students will be relying much more on the Internet.
- As far as tenure goes, one of the fundamental metrics is books and articles published. If we take the first point seriously, then university-type folks need to have more serious conversations about how research and topic databases like data portals, wikis, etc. should be added into the tenure discussion to promote the creation and proliferation of reliable, verifiable data.
- Broadening the scope a bit: congregants and congregations and those seeking knowledge about both will be—no, are—relying more on the Internet as well. What are we religious-types doing about this?
- And is the answer to this question (either in the academic or the religious realms) rooted in organization-wide top-down directives or more of an individual and small-group collective nature? It seems to me it’s the second—but that produces the inevitable problem of content control; how do you distinguish the trustworthy from the flawed and fallacious?
- Because of the kind of material out there and its means of production, one way to move the conversation forward is the growth of “certification groups” who would certify the content of a site according to their standards. Both the blessing and curse of this kind of approach is that the group would essentially have no direct power over the content and the value of the certification would be only as good as the public trust held by the certifying group.
There’s more to think and say about this—but I lack the time and brain-cycles to do it justice at the moment…
“topic databases like data portals, wikis, etc. should be added into the tenure discussion to promote the creation and proliferation of reliable, verifiable data.”
I think of this stuff as service. not just to the university but to the field.
Ever read, The World is Flat by Tom Friedman? After reading just a few chapters of that book my mind began racing about how the wired revolution would or could impact the day-to-day operations of the church. It’s a wonderful book, good food-for-thought.
Of course, one of the great benefits of the internet is that it has a democratization impact on information. No longer do I need a newspaper restaurant reviewer to tell me what’s a good restaurant – Zagat.com and others tell me what real people think. The power of the click lets people decide what they like, what is good, what is worthwhile, rather than depending on experts.
Of course, the academy and the church are built on the whole expert model that the internet threatens to undermines. The question is how to grant wider access and contribution to information – allow scholarship, devotion materials, etc. to be shaped by a broader swath of folks – yet maintain some sort of authoritative criteria, perspective, voice. A “wiki-church,” it seems to me, would need some parameters . . .
We talk about tenure and electronic publications a fair amount with the Heroic Age (a journal I started nearly a decade ago). We have seen positive movement on getting electronic publications of all types counted by tenure committees. I know I have had a couple authors tell me that it counted on their tenure reviews (and that has encouraged them to continue to e-publish).
It is definatly growing in medieval studies, but acceptance is still very patchy. There is always a session on this at Kzoo every year. What we really need are some flagship journals to make the conversion to electronic only, that would make a big difference. Almost all of them are now dual publishing in print and electronically so I think it will come eventually.
Definitely agree with you Fabian. Yes we do say “get off on the wrong foot” in English. You can also say “got up on the wrong side of the bed as wer&!l#8221;Gleat point about the effect of the sun on our habits. Whenever I camp or sleep out in nature, I’m always up with the sun – 5:30 or 6am. It’s when I’m in my house, in my own bed, that I shut out the light and sleep till noon =)