Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blogging and the PDQ

Alun's essential idea boils down to this summary:

There’s no intention to compete for the same market as any other journals, nor to replace weblogs. Instead the journal is a bridge between bloggers in the broadest sense and non-blogging academics. The journal will be available as a PDF for free under a CC licence and paper format at the minimum allowed cost via Lulu. The journal will reproduce articles and entries from weblogs, providing a citeable format for people uncomfortable with citing weblogs.

This, in my humble opinion, is the smartest thing for academics (and scholarly lay) to do with the blogging world, specifically those who blog about antiquity which happens to be the theme of this blog. Ancient world blogging (apparently now the preferred term to use) has already attracted academics, and this essentially deals with the problem of citation with blogs. This also should spur on lengthier, weightier, and more thoughtful posts, and perhaps help launch fuller articles in more traditional journals.

The Past Discussed Quarterly

Ancient Quarterly or the Past Discussed Quarterly?

Meanwhile, and here is where the benefits really work, scholars become more and more familiar with the online world, the blogging community, and related media, and they start blogging and interacting online as well. While the direct communication with peers and knowledgeable fellows alike is rewarding, the those outside academia can likewise benefit from the increased output of knowledge freely available on the internet. While academically rigorous training is always preferred, non-academics have and will continue to contribute great works to the field. Look at Stephen Carlson, who after years on the email lists and in the Biblioblogger community finally decided to go back and get his Ph.D. at Duke. And likewise at Loren Rosson, who continues to bring new insights into the increasingly technical fields.

I'd also like to address some of Bill's concerns. He says:

I am not sure I’d be interested much in reading a less formal, less edited, less substantial kind of scholarly output especially as the great swells of unread scholarly articles continue to bear down on my fragile intellectual raft.

This is perfectly valid. I present two counterarguments, though. First, blogging is electronic, and with the PDQ being a quarterly, we have instance electronic access to the latest and greatest from scholars around the world. Latest discoveries and controversies are handled when they're still fresh. For more problems too minor to hardly be of worth to major journals (except those which include the "brief notes" sections), blogging provides an alternative venue, and people about to publish books or papers can quickly incorporate the new material without having to wait for books and papers to be published. Do note that I specifically highlighted minor problems. This, I believe, is important.

The next counterargument was already anticipated by Bill.

That is to say, I am not sure that blogging as a genre is very compelling unless we begin to beef up the quality of a blog post into little “working papers”. In this case we are talking about doing something like what has been done over at the PSWPC site. Or we could define blog posts more rigorously by length (< 1000 Project Notes on the Antiquity webpage).

This is an excellent direction to take it, but it should be different. In particular, the Princeton/Yale working papers project only receives submission from faculty and grad students from Princeton and Yale, while anyone would be able to submit articles to the PDQ. Project Notes on Antiquity is likewise different from this venture since they do not submit any articles to peer-review. Garbage could quite possible get through. I'm hoping that we take enough cautionary measures to ensure this does not happen in the PDQ.

Going back to the original suggestion, I'd like to make some suggestions. Alun wrote:

Making blogs more like academic papers would be a bad thing. We already have academic journals for academic papers, even if the publishing system needs a shove towards Open Access. Blogs are fast, eclectic and interactive.

While I cannot disagree with what this actually says, I do want to note that while making blogs more similar to academic papers is not the best thing for the community, making certain blog posts similar to academic papers is a wise move. There are already some blog posts which are similar in format. If I were to present something not as worthy for standard academic journals, but still important, why not add citations? Why not make sure it would pass the refereed system at major journals? It cannot hurt. We would be able to keep the speed, variety, and interaction of normal blogs but now with the respectability of academic papers.

I read weblogs and if they’re anonymous I don’t know if I’m reading a professor’s thoughts, or a students, or an ex-graduate or someone who’s simply interested in the past - and it doesn’t matter. What matters is the writing interesting. The blogs I read take the same view, it’s not the status of the individual, but the argument that matters. That critical approach should be the spirit of academic inquiry. For that reason pseudonymous bloggers should be welcome without having to lose their pseudonym.

I'm not sure I agree 100%. Quite frankly, I cannot see a reason why people would need to hide. Unless there's some ulterior motive, or there's some vitriolic or deceptive quality to the post, I can only see openness as a positive thing.

On the other hand if PDQ really puts people off, then AQ would be the better name to go with.

My vote goes with PDQ.

Crosspost with Thoughts on Antiquity.


Archaeologyknits said...

Ok, a couple thoughts on this.
First, as far as being like journals etc, I think of something like archaeozoology.worpress.com as being a pretty good example. She cites her sources bibliographically etc. Of course, further wouldn't be an issue.

I also like either PD or PDQ

Chris Weimer said...

Did you mean this?