WebCite and Transforming Academic Internet Wormholing Into Actual “Work”

There’s a current debate among cool academic people (yes, I say that ironically) about the future of public scholarship in the age of social media, collaborative online environments, and more calls for democratized research. Academics are online, sometimes when we shouldn’t be (coughselfcough). But, as of yet, what we produce on, through, and for the online community is not considered real academic “work”. That’s a problem that stagnates scholars and institutions.

Most solutions to the stagnation have involved some version of digitizing all of the existing frameworks. For example, exchanging open access for paid access or public peer review versus blind peer review. You may know, if you read this blog regularly or follow me at all, that I’m not a fan of the minor institutional tweak. My mother, The Vivian, always told me that if you were in the mood to change one thing you may as well change everything. And so lies my orientation towards institutional change, revolution, and relationships. 

You may also know that I’ve discussed the dangers of failing institutional models and proposed my own attempt at full-on re-imagining of academic community, publication, and promotion.*

One of my favorite tweeps, Douglas Edwards, has inspired my thinking about the mechanics of that re-imagined process. Douglas asked me awhile back ago to expound on a series of tweets I made about post-secondary certificates, the function of public higher education, and neo-liberal market orientation. I did because he asked me to and I really am that easy.

The post, “Employees Ready Out of the Box?”, has now been archived by Douglas over at WebCite. And that excites me most of all.

One of the inherent challenges of transforming academic publishing is it’s current death grip on the academic hiring and tenure process. To quickly recap, the most critical metric used by employers and other powerful gatekeepers in academia to judge the value of scholars, researchers, and teachers is how often they publish and how highly ranked the journals are that publish them. Thus, the “publish or perish” idiom.

Because of this relationship disrupting the academic publishing model to be less expensive, more accessible, or more relevant is to also disrupt the very way colleges and universities do business. That’s a lot of disrupting. And institutions have powerful means to protect themselves.

But academics are online. We are publishing. We are producing valuable new knowledge and providing expert insight into real problems that effect real people. Why shouldn’t we get credit for doing so? While I’d heard of webcite before this was the first time that I imagined is part of a larger solution to the problem that currently vexes me and many others: how do transform all our internetin’ into work?

I imagine the challenge as a three-fold one. First, you have to have the platform for academics to publish and be found. Second, you have to index and archive their contributions. And, third, you have to track and measure.

I have ideas about how to integrate all three and Douglas’ citation of my blog posts is headed in that direction.



*Always looking for brainstorming partners but I’d especially love a partner with coding/engineering skills.

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