19.141 the trouble with tribbles

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 06:55:15 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 141.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2005 06:40:49 +0100
         From: Wendell Piez <wapiez_at_mulberrytech.com>
         Subject: Re: 19.139 the trouble with tribbles

Dear Matt,

At 02:22 AM 7/11/2005, you wrote:
>The Chronicle recently published a truly extraordinary piece of tosh
>WARNING job candidates not to blog, lest hiring committees Google them
>to reveal political passions or midnight anxieties of the soul....

>That's what we still face in many corners of the humanities, folks: a
>seething cauldron of resentment, intimidation, conservatism, and
>condescension. Matt

Undoubtedly, but I wouldn't put too much stock in it. Theirs is a
losing battle, and the condescension the attitude of heirs of an old
family who, having squandered their inheritance, now watch the
tradespeople cart the furniture, linens, silver and crystal away.

Students and young academics who heed this warning will just find, in
the end, that they have staked their careers and reputations on the
self-serving advice of a recalcitrant insiders' group bound only by
resentment, which will continue to shrink every year, whatever
dominance they may still hold in hiring and tenure committees. These
people can hurt their own programs and departments, but they can't
stem a rising tide. They will find it more and more difficult to
limit their appointments to those who fear the Computer Science department.

Your blog post already put its finger on the corrective response:
that a blog is not (only) about one's obsessions, but about making
connections, laying the foundations of a healthy and engaged
intellectual life. Of course this can be done in many ways these
days, not just by blogging. Which is part of my point. It used to be
that scholarly articles in respected journals on the accession lists
of major libraries used to be *the* way to make an impression in
scholarly circles, to alert others of your existence, to find
readers, collaborators, mutual admirers. This is no longer the case.

In fact, I suspect that what really bothers the old guard is that the
hegemony of scholarly journals and elite monograph publication is now
clearly coming to an end, and they don't know what to do, since these
are the levers they know how to pull. But this demise has been
inevitable ever since the object of getting published in a journal
stopped being what it ought to be, and once was -- reaching readers
-- and lapsed into being what it has been for some time now --
providing a line on a CV. Writers who have readers are always more
vital than writers who don't. (Contact with readers is not only an
effect, it is a cause of vitality.) And departments that cultivate
scholars who engage with their communities will thrive and flourish,
whereas those that encourage scholars to do all the work up to, but
not including, really engaging with others with similar interests and
concerns, by whatever good means are available -- because once the
line on the CV is inscribed, the job is presumably done, and all that
is left is to inscribe another -- will stagnate and retreat,
eventually to be judged not worth the cost of supporting them.

Come to think of it, to the extent that this latter fate has already
been evident across Academia, maybe now we can see why. In turn, this
highlights the best answer of all: you must continue doing what you are doing.


Wendell Piez mailto:wapiez_at_mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc. http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
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    Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML
Received on Tue Jul 12 2005 - 02:01:28 EDT

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