Tag Archives: KathleenFitzpatrick

Alt-Ac Careers

I was incredibly grateful for the candor with which we discussed the state of academic jobs in the DH Praxis Seminar this week. The job hunt is a touchy subject (whether in the academic humanities or elsewhere), and I’ve enjoyed the fact that our seminar doesn’t shy away from difficult topics.

As a few people mentioned on Monday, it is a shame the term “alt-ac” even exists. This entire category of jobs is not defined by its own characteristics, but by that to which it is an alternative. As Katina mentioned during her lecture, until we truly establish an even playing field, where students are encouraged to blaze their own trails without a description of the “normal” path and the “alternative” path, the term alt-ac will have to do.

I also really appreciated the idea of making your own luck. As a musician, I am faced with a field that is built on relationships, networking, freelance, and entrepreneurship. While everyone has heard the story of a musician waiting for his “break,” there’s something to be said for creating your own opportunities and being ready for whatever comes your way as you passionately pursue your career.

“Community of Practice”

In response to our readings, the talk and workshop involving Raymond Siemens, the consummation of knowledge one can leave with is as described perfectly by Ann before me; knowledge is messy. It was wise that Ray initiated the worksop with this question to the group: What is knowledge? As also stated prior, the lectures featuring Siemens and Kathleen Fitzpatrick  speak as to how knowledge has historically been made accessible via the authoritative governance. “Knowledge” is – according to the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia – “information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education.” For our purposes we’ll focus solely on experience and education as it pertains to ‘social knowledge creation’.

Despite what Nancy Fjällbrant writes regarding the origins of peer review, “the [scholarly] journal had significant ties with the concurrent birth of learned societies (i.e. the Royal Society of London and the Académie des Sciences in Paris),” the Devonshire Manuscript exhibits, as per Siemens’ work denotes, an earlier example of social knowledge creation. Another way to say this concept is ‘social knowledge production,’ which Ray declared as having “always been really messy.” Part of the reason why such developments are messy is because of this idea, “community of practice.” As described in the Toward Modeling the Social Edition: An Approach to Understanding the Electronic Scholarly Edition in the Context of New and Emerging Social Media article, a community of practice:

Refers to a group that forms around a particular interest, where individual members participate in collaborative activities of various kinds. Active involvement in the group is key; through this involvement, group members ‘develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems – in short a shared practice’

Creation and consensus on knowledge is not simple or perfect. However, the practice and symbolization of the book being the source of knowledge (essentially an extension of an exclusive authority), has influenced an often misconceived notion of physically published infallibility, at least until the next edition! which will repeat that declaration. It is this erroneously defended and long held tradition which castigates the potentiality of collaborative knowledge producing sites like Wikipedia.

Knowledge is messy

The theoretical backbone to the Devonshire Manuscript project demonstrated by Raymond Siemens is the meditation on the process of knowledge creation and conveyance, specifically in relation to the social and power: who is creating the knowledge and legitimizing it? These questions invite us to consider the history of the institution. The separation of the “mad” and the “civilized” under the clinical institution in the eighteenth-century that Foucault pointed to, created the power division of the institution as the sole entity that holds truth and ability to cure, and those who were dependent on the institution.

The lectures by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Siemens, in addition to the past readings suggest a trend of the digital age that is exposing and balancing the power relation between the institution and the mass. As entities outside of traditional institutions (independent corporations, organizations, etc.) began to forge ways of distributing and effectively creating knowledge that drew from the network of the mass, traditional institutions are now faced with adapting to the new configuration, and in tern self-critically assess its history of knowledge creation, which, as Fitzpatrick and Siemens suggest through the origin of journal review, originates in a non-institutional, person-to-person review of text in the royal society.

As a member of an institution that holds influence in a global scale, I am encouraged to think about these power dynamics and how it relates to the institution’s current branding in the global arena. Creating partnerships that result in economic and/or cultural capital in regions, its strategies range from self proclaiming agenda to assess its presence as a cultural cannon, to direct goal for fundraising and building global membership. I am working on the former strategy, which, if done sensitively, perhaps could manifest in results that are sincere revision of the power dynamic problematized above. I am learning the mechanism of the digital that allows us to put a check in the traditional institutional structure, and bring forth a new type of knowledge making.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Lecture

I also enjoyed Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s lecture on the future of scholarship and the challenges ahead.  Not only is she a very passionate lecturer, she offered varying perceptions and trials ahead.  Traditional peer review is an archaic model, that being said, most of academia remains fundamentally in that realm.  The adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, comes to mind, but this system is broken.  There are gatekeepers in editorial staff and I would assume lots of who knows who in different areas of knowledge.  Although, I think there will still be gatekeepers and a leaning towards an elitist group when (if ever) scholarship shifts over to digital world.  If I could image digital scholarship “reviews” I would assume that it would draw on a larger population than that of the closed doors of established journals and other publications.  We all are under the assumption that if if gets past the gatekeepers, the work is solid and sound, supported and valid.  Post Peer review is just if not more important than the initial screening review.  I found this article, regarding letters to the Editor, an important part of the post peer review, discusses misleading information. 

When input emanates from all sides, not just the top, I would assume one would yield more well-rounded results and more transparency.  Overall this shift needs a revolution to occur, if there are going to be comprehensive changes in this type of review that produces tenure or establishes experts in fields.  In this article from 2012, discusses the hopeful future of online scholarship, with the established journal which has the following tenets in the “How it works section.” 

Authors submit manuscript to Peerage of Science, before submitting to any journal. Submitting Author decides the deadlines for the four stages [timed stages of review] of the process, which are thereafter automatically enforced.  Once submitted, any qualified* non-affiliated** Peer can engage to review the manuscript. (Peerage of Science, Online Journal  http://www.peerageofscience.org)

That model seems like a promising start.

I think the first steps of establishing scholarship that will force the change the academia mindset, is digital tools in the curriculums of schools at all levels.  This background will be the scaffolding that the digital scholars and traditional scholars will lean on for support and continue to build upon.  If digital scholarship only establishes itself in higher education as it seems to be doing at the moment, this shift needs to proselytize by the next generation of scholars not yet in higher education, the ones who are in grade school now.

11/4/13 Kathleen Fitzpatrick: “Open Review, the New Peer, and the Future of Scholarly Communication”

A talk with Kathleen Fitzpatrick sponsored by the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative and the Digital Praxis Seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center November 4, 2013.

Recent experiments in open peer review, as well as a recent study of open review practices jointly conducted by MediaCommons and NYU Press, suggest that online scholarly communication may be changing the nature of the “peer,” as well as the shapes of scholarly communities. This presentation will explore the history and future of peer review as a means of thinking through the issues that open review raises for communities of practice online.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is Director of Scholarly Communication of the Modern Language Association and Visiting Research Professor of English at NYU. She is author of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (NYU Press, 2011) and of The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television (Vanderbilt University Press, 2006). She is co-founder of the digital scholarly network MediaCommons, where she has led a number of experiments in open peer review and other innovations in scholarly publishing.

New Ideas for Old Systems

Kathleen Fitzpatrick begins the introduction of Planned Obsolescence with quote by Clay Shirky: “The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.”

I love this quote because it addresses an ever-present issue in the Digital Humanities: there will always be broken systems, and there will always be new tools that can help us improve them. This mindset (and the sense of adventure and experimentation that seems to come with it) is one thing I’ve really enjoyed about the Digital Praxis Seminar at the GC. It is not always easy to have this mindset, of course. It requires that we be honest with ourselves about what is not working, even if (or especially if) it has been this way for a long time.

Although no one has yet worked out all the kinks of a digital system of peer-review, Kathleen cited numerous projects and individuals (not the least of which being her work with Media Commons) that are tackling the issue head on. Perhaps we don’t have a perfect solution yet, but let’s get to work and come up with one!

I’ll end with a quote by one of my favorite artists and thinkers, John Cage: “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

Digital Humanities: “It does things to things.”

At the beginning of class, Matt Gold asked us to write a definition of the Digital Humanities “as you would like it to be defined, not as it is defined.”

Definition at the beginning of class: The Digital Humanities is a set of computationally-based methods which study historical and contemporary artifacts and texts. I think Jamie Bianco’s statement about the Digital Humanities, “It does things to other things,” adds an important dimension to this.

There was much class discussion about definitions of Digital Humanities in relation to quantitative methods and the sciences. The parallel drawn between GIS and the Digital Humanities was particularly enlightening. A student said the field of geography had answered the question of whether GIS is a tool, a discipline or a field of study—yes, to all of these categories. GIS is now recognized as its own field of research, but also as a tool that can be used without knowledge of the theory behind it, similarly to the way some people say that you don’t have to be able to code to be a digital humanist. I think what happened with GIS in geography is a likely outcome of the debates around Digital Humanities.

During the discussion, Steve Brier pointed out that the structure that digital humanists work in, or aspire to work in, was created in the sciences where collaborative work using digital technology, and a quick process of review and publication is the standard. He said, jokingly, that humanists have been “slow” about catching on.

Are digital humanists laggards, or is this “slowness” partly because of differences between scholarly communication in the sciences and the humanities? Scientists have to move quickly to document their discoveries because the structure of the field requires it. Humanists work in a more drawn out time frame. Kathleen Fitzpatrick makes another crucial distinction, “The work in the sciences, on some level, is doing the science. The stuff that gets communicated afterward is the record of its having been done. Where in the humanities, the work is the thing that is communicated.” The insight that Digital Humanities projects are both the scholarly work and the communication of that work provides a context for thinking about the future of scholarly communications. Fitzpatrick says, “The sciences in their modes of communication are still very fixated on this object that is the journal article however it is distributed.” She says the strength of the humanities is that they are in a position to be “Utterly reimagining what the nature of scholarship can be. . . . That there are other forms that projects can take. They can take the form of Omeka exhibits . . . Scalar multimedia projects . . . databases . . . archives.”

After the class discussion, I would add a few words of explanation to the definition and also stress the role of communication in Digital Humanities projects.

Definition after discussion: The Digital Humanities is a set of computationally-based methods which study historical and contemporary artifacts and texts. Jamie Bianco’s statement about the Digital Humanities, “It does things to other things,” adds an important dimension to the description of Digital Humanities methodology by emphasizing that it is also about the creation of new artifacts, texts and tools that communicate interpretations and arguments.

Works cited

Bianco, Jamie Skye. Digital Humanities Interview Project. Video. Web.

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “The Humanities in and for the Digital Age.” Scholarly Communications Program, Columbia University Libraries. Video. 5 Mar. 2013. Web

Planned Obsolescence

Hello all,

You may already be aware, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy is available electronically through Project Muse.

Project Muse http://www.nypl.org/collections/articles-databases/project-muse 
*This database is accessible from home with an active NYPL card number

We also have access to Project Muse offsite as CUNY students through the Mina Rees Library http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/content.php?pid=184234&sid=1548215

If you have any trouble finding it I would be happy to provide instructions with screen shots.