Prejudice Against the Web in Academia?

The topic for the day is the question of prejudice against the web in academia. Does it exist and, if it does, what forms does/might it take?

One place to start is on Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities blog, where Cohen has a post on A lesson from the past about genres and bias. It begins as a reminiscent post about a great class and two really cool instructors, but ends in a discussion of blogging and academia.

I cheered what I thought was a great example of a professor blogging, until I hit this paragraph:

For the record, he does not call this a blog, partly, he says, because “I hate that particular syllable,” but also, more importantly, because “it doesn’t catch what I’m really trying to do, whether successfully or not. These are essays. When I think of a blog — and maybe I’m being unfair to bloggers because I don’t spend much time in the blogosphere — my sense of blogs is that that they’re written very quickly. This is stuff that I compose and recompose, and then recompose and recompose and recompose. It’s very written.”

Wow, on Nunokawa‘s view of blogs… “written very quickly.” Because quick = not good? Because folks don’t revise? I revise all the time. Even old blog posts, based on comments folks make or things that I think, “Okay, I got a little rash there.”

But the thing that made me laugh out loud was the end of Cohen’s post.

As in the Oscar Wilde plays Nunokawa often dissects, there’s a final, amusing irony to this story. Where does Nunokawa do his sophisticated blog…er, essaying? Facebook.

Er, yes. Can anyone actually write a thoughtful essay on facebook? If they can, they are misusing the application. That’s now what fb is for nor how it is primarily used.

I am not opposed to Facebook at all and I use it myself, though not for professional work (at least, not yet). However, fb is not conducive to nor designed for the publication (or semi-private publication) of essays. Who, one wonders, are the audience for Nunokawa’s fb essays? Do they draw readers in and, if so, how?

Regardless of whether or not one particular person’s eccentric use of fb is relevant or not, the attitude he expresses towards blogging and bloggers is significant in a discussion of academic prejudice against the net. I think to a great extent that this bias exists because those individuals accepting/embracing this perception do not spend time on the blogosphere. (Nunokawa = n = 1, but I think the numbers are quite a bit higher.)

As you know if you read this blog regularly, I have run into this misunderstanding of the net rather forcefully recently. (If you don’t remember/know, you can read about the whole kerfuffle in my post Live Blogging.) That situation dealt with a dean who is not much older than I am and a journalist. Note that neither of these were the one who spotted the blog post; that was the journalist’s SIL.

But there is lots of social media in academia and it is seen as very good, even if it isn’t understood.

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