October 30, 2005
questions for readers
the institute for the future of the book is having a small meeting in LA on November 11th to explore how academics with expertise, integrity, and "a voice" can be encouraged to speak to a wider public audience through blogs and other internet-based forms. if you've gotten to this page, you are likely a regular reader of a blog written by one of the people who will be attending.
we have about a week and a half, and in that time we'd love to get your input on both the provisional meeting agenda, and on a few questions posed specifically toward the point of view of the reader.
These include (but are in no way limited to):
- what blogs do you read on a daily basis?
- can you describe how you come to trust a blogger such that you return regularly; what's the key attribute that creates such trust?
- how would you like to see the structures of blogs change? (e.g. less like a scoll, more like a conversation)
- what role do blogs play in your personal mediasphere; i.e. relative to other sources of news and opinion?
meeting participants - a partially annotated list
Following is a full list of participants for the L.A. meeting with some relevant links (by no means comprehensive, feel free to add).
Manan Ahmed is a doctoral candidate in history of South Asia at the University of Chicago. Originally from Lahore, Pakistan, he calls himself a Chicagoan. His blog, Chapati Mystery, was started as a discussion place for history and politics in US and South Asia. He also blogs at the historian collective, Cliopatria, where he is in charge of organizing the monthly symposium series.
"So while I was putting in six-day weeks, 10-hour days as part of our [CNN's] intensive Iraq war coverage, I was also caught up in the ongoing drama that saw mainstream media's war coverage challenged by this upstart blog phenomenon. The challenge was to try to make meaning from conflicts between the two different universes of discourse, one severely restricted by mass media assumptions about the patriotic attitudes of US audiences, and the other, in the blogosphere, situated much more firmly in the discourse of international media coverage, which differed significantly from U.S. war coverage in its skepticism toward the U.S. point of view."
Christine Boese is a writer, builder of weblogs, and independent researcher at CNN Headline News since the modular screen redesign of 2001, initially specializing in on-screen texts and their role in media convergence and interactivity. Along the way, she found herself riding the headline ticker through major events in US history, including 9/11, the anthrax scare, and two wars. She currently writes scripts for air and freelances for CNN and the CNN.com web site. Formerly an assistant professor at Clemson University, she is still active in issues relating to Internet scholarship and electronic and feminist pedagogies, through writing, speaking, consulting, and contract work. She has a Ph.D. in rhetoric and communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic, where she completed the first native hypertext (no paper) dissertation there. She also has an MFA in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Arkansas and BA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. Christine keeps more than 30 blogs, some public, some private, some anonymous, on many different topics. She frequently experiments with genre as well, and uses blog software for private class web sites, class original research projects presented as e-books, and for a nonlinear creative hypertext essay.
- "The Spirit of Paulo Freire in Blogland: Struggling for a Knowledge-Log Revolution"
- Chris Boese's Weblog
- A blog about writing and voice for beginning bloggers
- A poetry blog
- A research blog and host page for the serendipit-e.com domain
- Two memorial blogs, one for her uncle, another for a famous poet and good friend
- Forum blog for an international group of women peace activists (to which she posts)
- The afore-mentioned nonlinear creative hypertext essay
Danah Boyd is a Ph.D. student in the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies how people negotiate their presentation of self in mediated social contexts to an unknown audience. Her research has included ethnographic studies of Friendster and blogging as well as interactive visualizations of social networks.
Until August 2002, Danah was a graduate student with Judith Donath in the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. For her Master's, she studied how people manage their identity presentation in relation to social contextual information. In her undergraduate years as a computer science major under Andy van Dam at Brown University, she focused on how sex hormones affect one's vision and how this impacts using artificial vision systems, such as virtual reality.
In addition to her research, Danah tries to keep one foot in the world of change and activism. Since 1998, most of her involvement has been with V-Day, working to end violence against women and girls worldwide. Until 2003, she was the Digital Director where she was fortunate enough to build online environments for vagina activists to communicate, share and acquire support.
Danah blogs at Apophenia, as well as at Many 2 Many, a group weblog on social software.
- Publications, installations, presentations & workshop papers
- Many 2 Many
- "Blogging Outloud: Shifts in Public Voice"
John Seely Brown (will be present in spirit and perhaps by conference phone)
John Seely Brown is currently a visiting scholar at USC and prior to that he was the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and the director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)-a position he held for nearly two decades. While head of PARC, Brown expanded the role of corporate research to include such topics as organizational learning, knowledge management, complex adaptive systems, ethnographic studies of the workscape and nano technology. He was a cofounder of the Institute for Research on Learning (IRL). His personal research interests include the impact of globalization on business, the management of radical innovation, digital culture, ubiquitous computing and organizational and individual learning.
John, or as he is often called-JSB- is a member of the National Academy of Education and a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and of AAAS and a Trustee of Brown University and the MacArthur Foundation. He serves on numerous public boards (Amazon, Corning, Varian Medical Systems and Polycom) and private boards of directors. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and was awarded the Harvard Business Review's 1991 McKinsey Award for his article, "Research that Reinvents the Corporation" and again in 2002 for his article "Your Next IT Strategy. He has received numerous honorary degrees, and in 2004 was inducted into the Industry Hall of Fame.
With Paul Duguid he co-authored the acclaimed book The Social Life of Information (HBS Press, 2000) that has been translated into 9 languages with a second addition in April 2002. His most recent book with John Hagel - The Only Sustainable Edge - is about new forms of collaborative innovation. It also provides a novel framework for understanding what is really happening in off-shoring in India and China and how each are inventing powerful new ways to innovate, learn and accelerate capability building. JSB received a BA from Brown University in 1962 in mathematics and physics and a PhD from University of Michigan in 1970 in computer and communication sciences.
"The Virginian-Pilot saw the sniper trial of John Allen Muhammad as an opportunity to use blogging in its hard news coverage. The Norfolk paper's online news coordinator, Kerry Sipe, reported live from the court complex by posting minute-by-minute updates throughout the trial. Since by order of the judge there was no TV or radio coverage from inside the courtroom, Sipe considered near-real-time blog posts as the next best way to meet what was intense reader interest in the trial. The blog's successes are stunning. During the 28-day trial, Sipe said he received approximately 3,500 emails in response to his 610 posts from the court (personal communication, March 14, 2004). He learned from these emails that many readers felt his blogging was more accurate than newspaper, TV, or radio coverage of the trial since editors had not been given the opportunity to filter, obfuscate, and compromise the copy. This transparency and proximity to the news event are important cues for traditional print media, which sacrifices transparency and proximity to achieve the ethos of the professional, polished print product."
Brian Carroll is an assistant professor of journalism at Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia, specializing in print media and digital media. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication in June 2003. In May 2003, Carroll was named the School of Journalism & Mass Communication's outstanding Ph.D. student. Carroll also is an adjunct professor at UNC and an e-business editor for and consultant to the trade newspaper Furniture/Today, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier and the furniture industry's leading trade publication. His research interests include communication technology; law and policy; media convergence; online community; the black press; and baseball.
"We have a tradition in the State Department and our press corps of preferring generalists and being suspicious of deep expertise as a form of bias. So a journalist covering Iraq, who knows the Middle East well and knows Arabic, might well be seen as someone too entangled with the region to be objective. The American way of ensuring objectivity is to parachute generalists into a situation and have them depend on local informants. The whole theory of it is wrong. The BBC, for example, wouldn't dream of having most of its Middle Eastern coverage done by people who don't know Arabic."
Juan R. I. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the History Department of the University of Michigan. He has written extensively about modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. He has given numerous media and press interviews on the War on Terrorism since September 11, 2001, as well as concerning the Iraq War in 2003. His current research focuses on two contemporary phenomena: 1) Shiite Islam in Iraq and Iran and 2) the "jihadi" or "sacred-war" strain of Muslim radicalism, including al-Qaeda and the Taliban among other groups. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam, and lived in a number of places in the Muslim world for extended periods of time. His most recent book is Sacred Space and Holy War(IB Tauris 2002). Since 2002, he has maintained the Informed Comment weblog where he writes about Iraq and the Middle East. Informed Comment is now one of the most widely read blogs on the web.
- Informed Comment
- Iraq Gateway (under construction)
- "The Treasure, the Strongbox, and the Crowbar: A Tomdispatch Interview with Juan Cole (Part 1)"
- "Throwing Grenades in the Global Economic Cockpit: A Tomdispatch Interview with Juan Cole (Part 2)"
- "Web of Influence" by Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell in Foreign Policy
Jenny DeMonte is the author of JennyD, a weblog she started to help make transparent the work of scholars and researchers studying education. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, studying education and public policy. She was the recipient of a Spencer Fellowship upon entering graduate studies.
For more than 15 years before entering graduate school, she was a journalist. After attending Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, she worked at Esquire and New York Woman magazines. She was a newspaper reporter at several papers, including the Hartford Courant and the Bergen Record.
In 1993, she was named editor in chief of New Jersey Monthly magazine. In an effort to revive the struggling publication she created several editorial reports, and one of them was a ranking of the state's public high schools based in test scores and other output data. The first ranking was published in 1994, and in the first month after publication she was called "the worst thing that has ever happened to public education in this state" by a school superintendent, and "the person who has finally offered real information about schools" by a parent--both in the same day.
Over the next six years, she published several more high school rankings. She served on the board of the New Jersey Institute for School Innovation. She was interviewed regularly on television and in the press about the quality of schools in New Jersey, and her school rating was cited in 1998 as evidence in the Abbott v. Burke case in which the state Supreme Court ruled on school funding. She won the 1999 National Unity Award in education reporting for a story rating public high schools, which is given by Lincoln University for outstanding coverage of issues facing minorities. She also won numerous awards for writing and editing during her career as a journalist.
She started graduate school in 2000, and has both taught in the teacher education program, and worked as a research assistant on the Study of Instruction Improvement, a four-year project looking at students and teachers in 119 high-poverty elementary across the U.S.
Brian Drolet has worked since the 1960s as a political activist, publisher and television producer. Most recently he was a co-developer and project coordinator for Shocking and Awful - A Grassroots Response to War and Occupation, a series of 13 half hour shows about the war on Iraq that is being shown at film festivals and on cable and satellite television throughout the U.S.
In the run up to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq he produced live television coverage for Free Speech TV and Link TV of the massive demonstrations in Washington DC, New York and San Francisco. He has also recently produced In Conversation, a TV series inaugurated with a Nation Magazine sponsored discussion between Cornel West and Toni Morrison and another at the studio of Manhattan Neighborhood Network between historian Howard Zinn and actor Woody Harrelson.
Prior to producing television and directing Internet Projects for Free Speech TV, he was a producer at the Voyager Company in New York. Among other projects, he produced CD ROMs on the life and writing of jailed journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and a retrospective of the work of collage artist Betye Saar. In the 1970s he founded book publisher Banner Press and before that helped organize the Bay Area Radical Education Project and was a field organizer for the Draft Resistance movement in the late 1960s.
"Of course blogging has every other problem under the sun. It is glib and superficial and, when challenged, too often devolves into third-rate stand-up comedy or name-calling. It is cliche-ridden, fatuously triumphalist, a clamorously thumped tub of collective ignorance. (Not you or I, my friend. All those others.) But connecting it up to scholarship can correct for a lot of this. Rub some intellectual polish onto the rough medium. Do the public intellectual thing. Or mind your scholarly knitting. Start a blog for only 12 experts on some arcane text. The form permits.
In sum, blogging gives its informal, infectious enthusiasm - its gleeful daemon-servicing - to scholarship. Scholarship imparts its intellectual discipline to blogging. A happy union, can't you see?"
John Holbo is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He works on philosophy of literature and literary theory; Wittgenstein and Nietzsche; also, science fiction, fantasy, film, comics; also, more highbrow literary stuff. He blogs at Crooked Timber and John & Belle Have A Blog. He is editor of The Valve, a literary weblog dedicated to the proposition that the function of the little magazine can follow this form. He is bothered by the fact that academic publishing in the humanities isn't moving online nearly fast enough - even though there's a publishing crisis. He wants to do something about it.
- The Valve
- John & Belle Have A Blog
- Crooked Timber
- Selected writings
- "Form Follows the Function of the Little Magazine"
- "Ideas For Stuff That Would Be Good"
Clifford Johnson is a professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Southern California. His research is mainly on (super)string theory, gravity, gauge theory and M-theory, the goal being to understand how the universe works. He's a regular contributor to Cosmic Variance, a group blog on physics. His avowals that he would never blog are legendary.
John Mohr researches and teaches organizational theory, the sociology of culture, historical analysis, the welfare state, and qualitative/quantitative methods of research at UC Santa Barbara. Originally trained as an organizational sociologist, Mohr seeks to bring together the theoretical concerns of post-structuralist semiotic theory with network based mathematical approaches to the analysis of relational systems. He is particularly interested in the use of dual mode styles of formal analysis (such as lattice analysis and correspondence analysis) to link systems of discourse to systems of practice. He serves on the Editorial Boards of both Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Literature, the Media, and the Arts, and Theory and Society. Mohr has served as Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at UCSB, in which capacity he was also chair of the UC-AGEP (Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) Steering committee. During his tenure as chair, the UC-AGEP successfully applied for and received a 5 year, $10 million extension of its NSF funding. Mohr also served as one of three PIs on the UC-DIGSSS (Diversity Initiative for Graduate Study in the Social Sciences) NSF grant, which provides three years of funding ($900,000) for social science diversity efforts at UCSB, UCLA and UC-Berkeley. In addition, Mohr initiated the UCSB Graduate Research Internship Program (GRIP).
"...I think we academics should feel a duty to disseminate information beyond that small group of people who actually pay us tuition. I don't believe this kind of thing can single-handedly change the world, but if all of us took a little time every week to share and explain some small bit of our specialized knowledge, the world might start becoming a slightly smarter place."
Paul Z. Myers is an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Morris. He holds a B.S. in zoology from the University of Washington and a PhD in biology from the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon. He has previously taught at the University of Utah and at Temple University. Paul blogs solo at Pharyngula, and is also a contributor to The Panda's Thumb, "a virtual pub of the University of Ediacara where patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation." Paul is also the originator and principal organizer of Tangled Bank, a science blog carnival (a weekly showcase of good weblog writing selected and hosted by bloggers in the community).
- The Panda's Thumb
- Tangled Bank
- "A little meta, a little meat (why I am weblogging)"
- "Weblogging and tenure"
Larry Pryor is on the Journalism School faculty and teaches online writing and reporting. He was formerly a reporter for The Louisville Courier-Journal and, later, a staff writer and editor for the Los Angeles Times. He held various writing and editing positions at the Times, including news editor of Times Mirror's pioneering videotex project, Gateway, in 1982 and editor of the Times' Web site in 1996. Pryor conducts research on immersive, 3D technology and the use of perspectives in digital technology. He also works on applications of chaos theory to journalism and how the Internet and traditional media interact.
Karen G. Schneider
"Just as meeting face to face is a different experience than talking over a blog, the nuts and bolts of information provision is a much different experience than the process of its creation. No stakeholders understand users better than the "last mile" communities, which include librarians and advocates for the information have-nots and somewhat-nots. This isn't because journalists and bloggers and publishers don't care about users. It's because librarians and access-advocates connect directly with users, and see and experience users in the users' contexts. It is one thing to know people read your newspaper. It is another thing to put a newspaper in someone's hands.
Karen G. Schneider is the Director of LII, Librarians' Internet Index, a browsable, searchable Web portal and announcement service funded by the state of California. Her library career path includes managing a computer network for a public library, directorships in both small public and small special libraries, children's library services, adult reference services, and running a one-person Internet training business. Before her library career, Ms. Schneider was an aircraft maintenance officer in the U.S. Air Force. She has a BA in English from Barnard College and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Her personal blog is Free Range Librarian.
Ms. Schneider has published nearly 100 articles related to library science, many as the "Internet Librarian" columnist for American Libraries. She has also published two books, most notably A Practical Guide to Internet Filters (Neal Schuman, 1997), and has had two short articles published in the New York Times. In 1997, she led a team of librarians in a study of Internet content filters, and in 1998 was an expert witness for the community group Mainstream Loudoun citizens' group for the case, Mainstream Loudoun vs. Board of Trustees. Her article, "The Tao of Internet Costs," was selected for the 1999 Award of Excellence by the library finance journal, The Bottom Line. She is a frequent speaker at library conferences and since 1998 has been an adjunct instructor, first at the School of Information Science and Policy at SUNY Albany, and then at San Jose State University, where she taught Internet access and organization issues. Ms. Schneider represents the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) as an elected member of the Council of the American Library Association and has been an active participant on three ALA presidential task forces (Outsourcing, Electronic Participation, and Electronic Meetings). She is also a member of ALA Web Advisory Council. Since 1996, Ms. Schneider has co-moderated PUBLIB, an electronic discussion list for public librarians with over 5,000 subscribers. In 1998, Ms Schneider received the Leadership Award of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Her personal blog is Free Range Librarian. She freelances for the library press, most recently at the ALA Techsource blog.
people we invited but couldn't come (but who will be in touch)
Other readings (in no particular order) (please add to this list in comments)
- "We're All Postmodern Now" by Mitchell Stephens ("Even journalists have realized that facts don't always add up to the truth...") (download pdf)
- "The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas" by Henry Farrell in The Chronicle of Higher Education
- "Mind The Gap" by Diana Rhoten in Inside Higher Ed (...an embryonic cohort of new "postacademic intellectuals" in the making.)
- "Online Journalism: Modelling the First Generation of News Media on the World Wide Web" by Mark Deuze in First Monday
- "Weblogs and the Public Sphere" by Andrew " Baoill
- "Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality" by Clay Shirky