Wiki Academia

The study provides some interesting findings regarding academics’ view of the benefits of Wikipedia-style peer review and publishing. Most respondents (77 percent) reported reading Wikipedia, and a rather high number (43 percent) reported having made at least one edit, with 15 percent having written an article. Interestingly, as many as four respondents stated that they were “credited for time spent reviewing Wikipedia articles related to their academic careers” in their professional workplaces. The more experience one had with Wikipedia, the more likely one would see advantages in the wiki publishing model. Most common advantages listed were cost reductions (40 percent), timely review (19 percent), post-publication corrections (52 percent), making articles available before validation (27 percent) and reaching a wider audience (8 percent). Disadvantages included questionable stability (86 percent), absence of integration with libraries and scholarly search engines (55 percent), lower quality (43 percent), less credibility (57 percent), less academic acceptance (78 percent) and less impact on academia (56 percent).

Survey of academics’ view on Wikipedia and open-access publishing,” Wikimedia Research Newsletter, Vol: 4 • Issue: 4 • April 2014

I’ve always thought that the only way for Wikipedia to build its credibility is for it to become a part of academic writing and research. I don’t think encyclopedias will ever replace peer-reviewed articles, but Wikipedia can only benefit if academic scholars are involved in the writing, reviewing and editing of articles. I wouldn’t want Wikipedia to be swallowed by academia; everyone should be able to contribute. I tell the teachers that I teach that the best way to understand Wikipedia, and develop a policy on it, is to participate.

Too many academics are suspicious, even openly hostile about the online encyclopedia. One professor I knew used to plant false information in Wikipedia and then ask students to research this information for homework. When they came back to class with his answer, he’d scold them for using Wikipedia. This is a professor, by the way, who sailed through tenure, despite his very open– even proud– advocacy of dishonesty towards students. The good news is that I don’t think his nasty little lesson would work anymore.

A New Review of “A Taste for Language”

A growing number of composition theorists (Hooks; Peckham) have noted the relative lack of discussion of social class in our field. James Ray Watkins Jr.’s A Taste for Language: Literacy, Class, and English Studies provides a theory of “middle class” language production for post-WWII education and reformulates a responsible cultural capital in the 21st century world outside the university. Watkins provides a multigenerational family autobiography to construct a revisionist history of composition studies that supports the proposed 21st century forms of cultural capital. To his credit, Watkins also provides a pedagogy to achieve this new cultural capital, although his “writing in the wild” pedagogy may not be as groundbreaking as a theory pressing for new cultural capital would demand. That said, A Taste for Language is a welcome addition to the discussions of social class in composition and the future of English and composition studies.

Book Review: Watkins’ A Taste for Language,” Liberty Kohn, 2014

It’s a nice review, positive but not fawning or anything, and I think his criticisms make a certain amount of sense. It’s worth reading in full.

Revolution Without the Revolution

A series of shifts are happening in our economy: A record of number of millennials are trading in conventional career paths to launch tech start-ups, start small businesses that are rooted in local communities, or freelance their expertise. We are sharing everything from bikes and cars to extra rooms in our homes.

Globally recognized entrepreneur and founder of Taproot Foundation, that helped create the $15 billion pro bono service market, Aaron Hurst argues in his latest book, The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community is Changing the World, that while these developments seem unrelated at first, taken together they reveal a powerful pattern that points to purpose as the new driver of the American economy.

The Purpose Economy

I heard about this book from one of those irritating NPR stories in which the reporter swallows a marketing plan whole and then treats it as if it were social science. I can just see the publisher’s PR guy checking one more item off the list. Next up, “Good Morning America!” In any case it struck me as a perfect example of the bourgeois desire for a revolution– profound and lasting social change– without the revolution– that is, with no notion of justice and collective struggle. This is what the internet was suppose to do as well.

That’s not to say that the internet didn’t change many things; it did. The internet as such, though, isn’t a revolution: it leaves the basic social structures of capitalism, worker and capitalist, private property, and so on, intact. Arguably, the internet and its attendant technologies reinforced capitalism and extended the reach of the market. Hurst’s ideas are, in effect, an attempt to convince us that the loss of benefits and a pension plan and any job security is, in fact, the best thing that every happened to you and to the world. Got it.

Sellers Market

The condemnation of Nazareth, should this story turn out to be true, should be near universal. W did nothing wrong except attempt to negotiate in good faith. But obviously, she doesn’t know the world in which she’s found herself trapped. In academia, any sense of self-worth whatsoever is “overinflated.” The proper way to “negotiate” an academic offer is to counter with offers to do more work: I want to be a team player, so I can take on 10 new courses a semester, or more even. And I shall never be so unforgivably selfish as to procreate, unless you count my true babies—my publications!

That is what this job market requires. Anyone who isn’t willing to bend over is out. If you don’t like it, best of luck “finding a suitable position”—and make sure that you take, with utmost gratitude, whatever offer they deign to give you.

The Tenure Take-Back,” Rebecca Schuman,

This is a story about a teacher who tried to negotiate with Nazareth, when she was offered a job, and was told that her requests indicated,” an interest in teaching at a research university and not at a college, like ours, that is both teaching and student centered.” The job offer was withdrawn. I know it might be hard for many to believe, but I do. I know from personal experience that this is how far down the rabbit hole academia has gone. 65% of are contingent faculty; that means universities can do just about anything.