Thursday, October 12, 2006

On Blogging (for Reconstruction.ws)

A few years ago I edited an issue of the online journal Reconstruction (the issue in which my essay on the X-Men and Gnosticism appeared). This week they have an issue on the theories and practice of blogging. They asked a host of people to blog about blogging so that that the journal can link to each one, creating a kind of hypertext collection of thoughts on the subject. This is my entry.

I like comics and movies and TV and poetry and music. Because I have all kinds of advanced training in English literature, when I read a book or watch a movie, I notice stuff. My superhero book attempted to collect all the things I noticed about comics into a single book-length argument. But truth be told, the thesis of the book came very late; it was not until I was nearly done that I realized that the connecting thread could be the argument about how the new comics I wanted to talk about constituted the successor to the industry’s Golden and Silver ages. It is the little observations about each comic book, rather than the big argument, that I think is the real value of the study. And when I read books it is the moment to moment observations that stay with me, rather than the big argument or story.

Blogging allows each little observation worthy of a bigger argument to be published, and available, before the book they belong in has been written, or even imagined.

Everyone needs to have a large discussion about the future of the University and the internet. If primary texts can be available on the web, for free, and academic essays and even books can be available in the form of blogs, for free, and if lectures by any professor can be recorded with a cell phone and thrown up on youtube, for free, then a very large part of an Oxbridge or Ivy League education can be had for free, at home, right now, by anyone with a decent computer connection.

The consequences of this fact – for established professors, and for future students and teachers – have not been thought through. But every time an academic pushes the “publish” button on blogger (or what have you) we get a little bit closer to the answer, good or bad. I, for one, cannot stop pushing that button.

10 comments:

Pat Moler said...

So????

liam said...

keep pushing the button! please!

Geoff Klock said...

Pat: so nothing. I was asked to write about why I blog and that is why -- because it is a space to publish small thoughts and because it takes us into the future of the university, whatever that is.

Enhance Life said...

Interesting!
I too did a post on a similar topic.
http://enhancelifethinktank.blogspot.com

Katie said...

But (perhaps sadly) we don't just go to college to learn things. We also go to get a little piece of paper that will enable us (ideally) to become employed at the living of our choosing. If the same opportunities could be obtained from self-directed study in a library, I imagine that's the option my parents would have financially supported.

So, until someone wants to hand out degrees for hanging out on Blogger and YouTube, I don't think the business of higher education will be much threatened by the World Wide Internets...

Geoff Klock said...

Katie: I never said the internet would replace college; I just said that the uploading of university resources would have consequences, and we don't know what all those consequences are. I think, for instance, that the university is in a bind right now over the "publish or perish rule": since all tenure track academics must publish to move up, and since there are so many of them, the market is flooded with more books than anyone has time to read, many of which are hasty and published not to spread ideas but to get their authors promoted. I do not think it is impossible that blogging could be seen as some kind of tenure track worthy academic service someday, even though right now it is frowned upon.

In another arena, VCRs, DVDs, Pay-Per-View, iTunes and Youtube have not destoyed the movie and televsion industry, but they have and will change our relationship to movies and TV. As Jason pointed out to me, 24 is the product of thinking of the season as a single unit; that was not always the case, and is, at least, related to being able to get the season on DVD.

Pat Moler said...

to Geoff: Oh, well I thought there was some deepe meaning you were trying to talk about. Didn't mean to insult. Peace

Geoff Klock said...

Pat: don't worry about it, man.

Katie said...

Ah. I was going at this from the student angle, not the professor angle. I hear you.

PS-- I am almost through Season 1 of Lost and will power through Season 2 ASAP (as well as catch up with Season 3) so you won't have to hide spoilers from me anymore...yay!

Anonymous said...

it would be interesting to segue this into a blog about the uploading of university libraries to google. specifically the conversations we had last year about Oxford vs. Cambridge and using that as a model about how Universities on the whole simply don't know the best way to react to new technologies.

or... not.