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The Republic of Blogs – a new phase in the development, critique, application and democratization of knowledge

Patrick Dunleavy LSE Government Department and LSE Public Policy Group LSE’s NetworkED: technology in education seminar, 6 June 2012

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1. The original ‘Republic of Letters’ 2. Contemporary higher education - signs of malaise and scelerosis 3. How multi-author blogs (MABs) help 4. The new republic of multi-author blogs (and Twitter)


Early key learning innovations (after: McNeeley and Wolverton ‘Reinventing Knowledge’)

1500 - 1800 1100 - now 300 -1700 300BC -500CE

The Republic of Letters innovation/ knowledge pooling Universities – (local) knowledge development Monasteries – knowledge preservation

Libraries – passive/ latent knowledge stores


Mapping the Republic of Letters (1500 to 1800)

Source: https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/


Mapping the Republic of Letters (1500 to 1800):

Correspondence nets for John Locke and Voltaire

Source: https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/


2. Contemporary higher education - signs of malaise and scelerosis


Eight key learning innovations (after: McNeeley and Wolverton ‘Reinventing Knowledge’) Digitization impacts Social data & social control Laboratories and controlled field experiments Disciplines – systematization, specialization, reductionism The Republic of Letters innovation/ knowledge pooling Universities – (local) knowledge development Monasteries – knowledge preservation Libraries – passive/ latent knowledge stores


Current main problems of academia • Specialization and hyper-specialization, neglect of holistic or integrative knowledge: siloing • Complexity and mathematization of scientific knowledge, increasing esoterism and growing 2 or 3 cultures problem – impacts deficit, ‘translation’ problems • Extensive corporate penetration and government bureaucratization of research (think REF mass judging via ‘eyeballing’ 200,000 research outputs, 5,000 ICS) • Credentialization, massive education fee/cost increases and worsening social inequality • Long time-lags in production of knowledge, diffusion of knowledge across disciplines and in applying pure science or theory – ‘closed gardens’ for knowledge • Journals and publishers unable to adapt to digital technologies, and 15 year fruitless decline of paper books against digital journals


3. How multi-author blogs (MABs) help


A blog is … • A sequentially ordered discussion or information website, i.e one that essentially updates by posting new material at the top and pushing older materials down the stream. And that • is flexible to use, and far easier to write, format and alter than most web content management systems • easily incorporates graphics, photographs, video, rich media, URL referencing, etc • is more interactive and facilitates social networking


THREE MAIN TYPES OF ACADEMIC BLOGSITES Single author Single Single author blogs discipline (SABs) audience (lone writer/curator) Coverage and audience across many disciplines

SABs run by polymaths (rare)

Multiple authors Specialist community feeds (some of them blogs)

Multi-author blogs (MABs)

(professional editors, strong production values)


SABs versus MABs Single-author blogs

Multi-author blogs

Same author for all Each author writes only a posts – heavy load few posts – regular flow Self-edited and Professionally edited with curated, idiosyncratic common format & styling Often mixed contents, Evidence-based, variable length standard lengths Limited amplification in Better amplifying via social media (mostly) social media Individual identities – Corporate/ theme identity very diverse and hard – branding can develop to track


Warwick: one of the best-indexed and most developed UK university blog operations, covers 8,600 mostly single-author blogs


OII: one of the most internetorientated academic organizations 19 single-author blogs,


Multiauthor blogs – good practice: welledited with narrative headings and introductory paragraph

Source: www.Europp.eu


MABs good practice: Interesting ‘look and feel’ and design

Source: www.LSEReviewofBooks.com


MABs good practice: Lots of feedback to users on what other users like

Source: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/top-10-blogs-this-week/


MABs good practice: A strong Facebook presence Source: http://www.facebook.com/pages/British-Politics-and-Policy-at-LSE/111905762198354


MABs good practice: A vigorous Twitter stream

Source: https://twitter.com/#!/LSEpoliticsblog


4. The new republic of multi-author blogs (and Twitter)


Key advantages of multi-author blogs • Speed up and socialize ideas generation • Cut entry costs for pilot testing ideas in time and effort • Allow far more academic expertise to be tapped far more often, and more relevantly and usefully • Communicate academic knowledge effectively to external audiences and interlocutors • Engage greatly enlarged graduate and professional populations to become co-producers of debate, discursive analysis and knowledge – vital for all academic work on ‘human-dominated systems’ e.g. social sciences and humanities, health sciences, IT, engineering • Greatly ease and accelerate cross-disciplinary learning, facilitating more holistic learning


Zones within disciplines - the ‘core’ is always an area of relative stasis

B

DISCIPLINE A

C

‘Dead heart’ replication, in-filling, incremental change

D © 2012 P. Dunleavy


Zones in disciplines – intermediate areas often show moderate, controlled advances

B

DISCIPLINE A ‘Dead heart’ replication, in-filling, incremental change

C Zones of moderate advances

D © 2012 P. Dunleavy


Zones in disciplines – turbulent advances occur at interfaces with other subjects

B

DISCIPLINE A ‘Dead heart’ replication, in-filling, incremental change

Zones of rapid ‘forefront’ research

C Zones of moderate advances

D © 2012 P. Dunleavy


Jason Priem, ‘Publishers: What are they good for?’


The version sent to the journal Figure 12: The seats outcomes in the 1955 general election in Great Britain


The published journal diagram


The new standard publication chain Long form publications

books, journal articles, research papers, conference papers

Short form publications

Academic/university multi-author blogs

Professional news stream

Twitter, social media


Thank you for listening


Mapping the Republic of Letters Exploring Correspondence and Intellectual Community in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800) https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/

Yellow = John Locke’s network; blue = Voltaire’s network (15 volumes of letters)


New connections aren’t out there in the literature Don’t read, think! Arthur Schopenhauer http://www.ibbotson.com/images/products/kc_home.jpg


The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas Linus Pauling


All rules for study are summed up in this one: learn only in order to create. Friedrich Schelling ‘On University Studies’ (1819)

The quickest, easiest way to be creative is to borrow, moving ideas across from one context to another

Credit:http://www.uniregensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_III/Geschichte/schelling.jpg


The Republic of Blogs