Saturday, November 15, 2003

the Buddhologist speaks

Ryan at Ryan's Lair is pushing for academics to publish their scholarship in blog form. I'm all for this, and Ryan's reasons make sense: it all comes down to democratization of knowledge (something Confucius may have been aiming for, though this got twisted around in Korea, since not everyone was Chinese-literate, which created educational strata in society), the freeing up of scholarship from market forces. For you ideologues, no, I'm not against the free market. But open-sourcing your scholarship, with all that it entails about real-time peer review, etc., is a great way of testing the merits of your ideas in a forum you can't entirely control (esp. since Ryan advocates posting critiques of a scholar's work on one's own blog). Ryan's modest proposal (in letter form) says in part:

Can we build a radically new, more accessible model for disseminating
scholarship in the coming years?


With this system in place, the cost of scholarly dissemination would be
measured only in bandwidth and hard-drive space, and would be
distributed free of charge to anyone with a net connection. It would be
easily organized into categories, everyone would be notified instantly
of any newly released work, and we could review each other's work using
trackback or comments. This would be an effective way to conduct
trusted peer-review. The timescales of publication and review could be
radically compressed. Linking would be trivial. Searching would be
trivial. This is an *extremely* easy thing to do- we have all the tools
to do it right now. The question is whether or not scholars would find
this desirable.

I posted some questions for Ryan in his comments section, but since I don't understand all the techspeak, it's possible his letter already addresses my questions. If you're of a scholarly bent, go give Ryan your thoughts. Or just visit his blog; it's a really good one, with nice photos.

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