Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bob Cargill's SBL Paper

Bob Cargill has posted the text of his excellent SBL paper, "Instruction, Research and the Future of Online Educational Technologies." He does an excellent job explaining the way the world is going online, pointing out that the academy is being left behind. Here are a few excerpts:
"I’ll point you to this statistic: this year marked the first year that sold more e-books than it did printed books. If this stat is shocking to you, you probably work for a university. The world has transitioned to e-books, online journals, and handheld devices.

This leaves the academy, which is only now beginning to seriously ask the question: “what’s happening?”
. . .

The world has gone online. It did so ten years ago, and the academy is quickly being left behind.
. . .
The academy must embrace online publication before it goes the way of the Library of Alexandria – a noble memory about which proud legends are told, but that no longer exists!
Thus, the challenge is to convince tenure-granting committees to accept digital forms of publication as not only legitimate forms of academic publication, but to accept it as the preferred vehicle for publication – one that not only publishes the results of research thereby creating knowledge, but effectively markets this knowledge by disseminating it in a manner that can compete with rival forms of lesser-informed knowledge being peddled to students and the public by various political, religious, and business entities.
. . .
Now that we’ve identified the problem, allow me to offer three solutions to the question: how do we go from traditional, ink-on-paper volumes that tenure-granting committees love, but few people outside of professional conferences read, to online, digital publications that a) preserve the brand and credibility of the institution, the scholar, and the data; b) enhances the published research by disseminating results in such a manner that simply could not have been offered in traditional ink-and-paper printed volumes . . .

Read the rest here.


Anonymous said...

"The world has gone online. It did so ten years ago, and the academy is quickly being left behind."

I didn't think keeping up with the times was a particularly Catholic virtue.

More seriously, I think we as Catholics or as scholars or both need to think seriously about various media and their inherent epistemologies, potential benefits, drawbacks, and dangers.

No medium is neutral, and yet again and again and again I find Catholics writing as if electronic images and print are basically the same, or (put differently) as if there's no difference between the print revolution of the 15th-16th centuries and the computer/internet revolution of the 20th-21st centuries. I find this especially odd, given that Catholicism is a gritty, incarnational faith and the computer/internet revolution borderline Gnostic.

I think everyone should drop everything and spend a summer reading Marshall McLuhan (a known Catholic) and Neil Postman, as well as, say Walker Percy's theoretical essays and Walter Ong.

For starters, I'd turn everyone to Alan Jacob's blog on books and tech, "Text Patterns".

So yes, we need to think about e-publishing and the like, but let's do so critically.

Michael Barber said...

I agree, no medium is neutral. There are certainly drawbacks to the dawning of the digital age. When the industrial age caused the west to no longer become an agrarian society there were problems as well. But like it or not, we are no longer an agrarian society. . . and, likewise, the world has gone online. You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. It's a fact.

We have to meet people where they are--we can't pretend they are somewhere else.