More on scholarly social media: behave, listen well, and design for liberality

I.  Dissensus and heteroglossia.
II.  Nonhominem: a proposal for non-shaming but non-excluding speech.

Rabelais and His World, by theorist of heteroglossia, Bakhtin

Rabelais and His World, by theorist of heteroglossia, Bakhtin

[response to a post, “Disagreement” from Kathleen Fitzpatrick of the Modern Language Association, 26 January].

Thank you Kathleen for another thoughtful response. I hope, and think, it isn’t a fundamental disagreement with me.

“Dissensus” feels better, and perhaps even better would be “heteroglossia” — many voices within one text. I’d like to adopt that as my first theme in replying. I ask forgiveness in advance for choosing a writing form less measured and mannered, deliberately capacious and perhaps a bit anarchic. And for the degree to which “heteroglossia” may mean, “hastily assembled; generally off the chain.” ;)

I cheerfully agree with your wish to “not be the civility police,” and ask your indulgence if I relaxedly weave in various related things I’ve been reading, enjoying, and thinking about today. That did, I’m afraid, include most of the 1951 season 1 of Dragnet, and classic Beastie Boys and Public Enemy videos, etc., but work with me here.

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If You Can’t Hear Anything Nice, Don’t Hear Anything: Robustness vs. Civility of Networks

John Kelly/WashPo, "Radical Civility" 2009

John Kelly/WashPo, “Radical Civility” 2009

A call for online civility, particularly on Twitter, was recently issued by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Publishing at the Modern Language Association, in her blog post “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice“:

Folks, we need to have a conversation. About Twitter. And generosity. And public shaming…How can we develop modes of public critique that are rigorous and yet respectful?

I appreciate what Fitzpatrick is saying, and agree it would be good for people to generally have more generosity and consideration in communicating. Also, Fitzpatrick, whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet and discuss scholarly-communications issues with, is I’d say rather exemplary for generous, open, and forward-thinking discourse.

(also, disclosure, she has joined the Academic Steering and Advocacy Committee for the Open Library of Humanities, of which I am a co-founder. This actually happened while I was writing this post, that was pretty cool. Thanks Kathleen! Check’s in the mail).

All-Our-Grievances-Are-Connected_Occupy-NYC-poster2

“All Our Grievances Are Connected.” Occupy NYC poster

On the other hand — to venture a bit of public critique that I hope is respectful — I believe there are significant dangers in asking others to behave as one would like, or as one believes oneself to be behaving, or trying to draw a line between, say, as Fitzpatrick does, “thoughtful public critique and thoughtless public shaming.”

The problem with asking us to behave the right way towards each other — the golden rule of reciprocity — is that, to paraphrase Kant, from the crooked timber of humanity, no symmetric thing was ever made.

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Open Access: Revolutionary Disagreements and the Global Library

Aaron-Swartz-banner

protest graphic for Aaron Swartz

  1. The revolution will be complicated: entwined agendas
  2. Stand up and be counted: the #PDFtribute protest
  3. By any means necessary: JSTOR Liberator and Papester:
  4. Recuperate & reconcile: Dan Cohen’s “The Other Academy Awards”
  5. A Global Library: proposal for OARReR –  Open Access Repository, Requestor, & Resolver

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Open Library of Humanities – further envisioning

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Borges’ unending library. via Asel Yeszhanova, gutenbergspace.wordpress.com

Since November, a number of    conversations have gathered around the idea of a Public Library of Humanities — an Open Access scholarly publishing platform for Humanities / Social Sciences (HSS), inspired by Public Library of Science (PLOS) I attempted to gather and review this background in “Public Library of Humanities: Envisioning a New Open Access Platform.” on Dec 20.

[Subsequently, it’s become evident that “PLOH” or “PLOHSS” would raise trademark concerns with PLOS, so the alternative Open Library of Humanities, OLH, has been proposed].

[UPDATE Tues 1/22 8pm GMT, the project site is now live at OpenLibHums.org].

Here’s my envisioning of what Open Library of Humanities could be, adapted from posting to email discussion with PLOHSS / OLH co-organizers/advisors on  January 7th.

Short-form list:

  1. Humanities, broadly defined to included Social Sciences, Arts, Design, etc.
  2. Expertise, impact, scale, quality brand/look/feel – become a standard-setter and transformer for the domain
  3. Post-publication Review: explore overlay, megajournal, & pre-publication review models
  4. Tackling key pain-points and missions of all scholcom players.
  5. Attractive value proposition for current journals/editors to move onto PLOHSS system.
  6. Lean cost structure
  7. Integration of journals and books.
  8. Open Source
  9. Not-for-profit
  10. International – at least trans-Atlantic.
  11. An exchange for different disciplines and innovation areas.
  12. New avenues to public engagement, not just academic impact
  13. Exploration of new editorial models, e.g. blog curation, peersourcing.
  14. Innovation driven.

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How To Bring Academics to the Social-Media Party? Indirectly

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  1. Why social media? public & professional engagement, better work
  2. Twitter, and other Open Interest-Graph Networks (OIGNs)
  3. Big Picture: Developing the Global Brain
  4. Twitter in Academia Now: early adopters & skeptics
  5. Problem: Who Has Time for This?
  6. Social Bridge 1, Autoregistration: your robot social secretary
  7. Social Bridge 2: Gateways
  8. Social Bridge 3, Autotweets: kick out the  [academic] jams!
  9. Social Bridge 4, Auto-analytics: self-tuning and listening in
  10. Conclusion: There’s no ‘them’ out there, just a lot of ‘us’.


1. Why social media? public & professional engagement, better work

I admit: this might sound like the worst idea ever. Our harried guardians of truth, history, and scientific progress, called out to serve in the great Silicon Valley-born empire of the trivial.

But as Steven Johnson suggested in his 2009 Time cover story, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live,” social-media (in his case specifically Twitter), often strikes people as an awful idea at first.

The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression. You hear about this new service that lets you send 140-character updates to your “followers,” and you think, Why does the world need this, exactly? It’s not as if we were all sitting around scratching our heads and saying, “If only there were a technology that would allow me to alert my friends about my choice of breakfast cereal.”

Steven Johnson cover story, "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live"

Steven Johnson 2009 cover story, “How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live”

[note: "what I had for breakfast" is an established convention to mean "trivial social-media content"].

However, Johnson goes on to recount the transformative experience of attending a conference at which Twitter use turned the event into a realtime, global, open conversation. The Twitter “backchannel“, as it’s sometimes called at conferences, provided instant summarization and discussion of all talks, available online as an ad-hoc “proceedings.” Connections were sparked among a spontaneously-gathered community of interest from around the world.

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Play is Not The Opposite of Work: Stanford mediaX 2013 Conference

2013-01-08 08.28.02_edit1mediaX is the industry-affiliate program for Stanford H-STAR, the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute,

This is a curated archive and discussion of the Twitter social-media “backchannel” surrounding mediaX’s 10th anniversary conference, Jan 7-8 in Palo Alto.

1. Introduction: on mediaX, the event and the Twitter “back channel”
2. Conference program
3. Twitter archive
4. Twitter as privately-owned public space: critical use/making
5. Note on methodology, completeness, and archival stability
6. Final Note: Beyond Twitter, Newswires of the Future


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