34 Matching Annotations
  1. Jul 2018
    1. Open-access scholarship has the potential to reach a broad spectrum of potentially interested publics. We in the humanities often resist opening our work to these publics, fearing the consequences of such openness – and not without reason. The world at times fails to understand what we do, and, because our subject matter seems as though it ought to be comprehensible (you’re just writing about books, or movies, or art, after all!), isn’t inclined to wrestle with the difficulties that our work presents; their dismissive responses give us the clear sense that the public doesn’t take our work as seriously as, say, papers in high-energy physics, which few lay readers would assume their ability to comprehend without some background or training. As a result of these doubled misunderstandings, we close our work off from the public, arguing that we’re only writing for a small group of specialists anyhow. In which case, why would open access matter? The problem, of course, is that the more we close our work away from the public, and the more we refuse to engage in dialogue across the boundaries of the academy, the more we undermine that public’s willingness to fund our research and our institutions.

      1000 times yes!

    1. the role of the humanities disciplines is ‘to preserve, to monitor, to investigate, and to augment our cultural life and inheritance’ and, in straightforward parlance, it is clear that those employed in universities’ humanities departments conduct ‘research’ in the service of these goals.

      How do we agree or contest this assertion of what the humanities does?

    2. How has the popular reputation of the humanities – a frequent topic of lament – suffered from an inability of the public easily to read research work (in both the sense of impeded access and the sense of the unreadable complexity of the language of research)?

      Kathleen Fitzpatrick echoes this sentiment and opines that is is necessary for the humanities to make a first change here.

    3. value-adding functions are ‘filtering’, ‘framing’ and ‘amplification’

      This is a useful distillation of some activities that publishers carry out for academic work.

    4. why should academics retain the economic protections of copyright if they are not dependent upon the system of remuneration that this is supposed to uphold?


    5. Broadly speaking though, there are also supply-side and demand-side ‘crises’ in the monograph world.

      I wonder if this is echoed in/of/from the job market in the humanities also?

    6. whether the profit motive stands in fundamental opposition to the goal of academic research

      Does it? DOES IT?!?!

    7. while many different factions now agree that open access is a good idea in principle, there are a number of remaining real-world challenges to be overcome if it is to become the norm

      I strongly believe that in the humanities some of these challenges can be overcome by simple means of awareness-raising and contradicting falsely-held opinions about how things work.

    8. open licensing

      licensing is an under-explored mechanism for exerting control on the scholcomm system. my experience is that in the humanities folks get burned out on copyright/fair use by being forced through the ringer for permissions in classrooms or thesis/dissertations.

    9. unpacks the economics of scholarly publishing in the two interlinked senses of an ‘economy’ of academic prestige and of finance

      The economy of prestige is a topic of great concern across academia, especially as we move into the brave new world of digital scholarship.

    10. majority of costs lie in the labour to reach the point of dissemination rather than in the transmission of each copy

      This point of where labour sits in the scholarly communication system is inextricably tied to economics, both of which are often obscured for the author and reader. How does a thing go from your computer to a publication? Actually, thinking it through now, some of those steps might actually be more visible in the humanities than the sciences.

    11. The removal of these two ‘barriers’ alters the current model of scholarly communications because, at present, access to research is only allowed when content has been purchased from a publisher and because, at the moment, one may only redistribute and use works in accordance with the fair dealings provisions of copyright.

      What we are seeing is that the removal of these barriers is uncovering new barriers - like access to technological tools necessary to get to this research. And we're also seeing new barriers erected - like the major publishing companies investing in acquiring more pieces of the pipeline between the author and the reader.

    12. The term ‘open access’ refers to the removal of price and permission barriers to scholarly research

      Agreed. However, in practice it has mostly been applied to scholarly research published in journals.

    1. But the word “public” instead of “applied” or “practical” also has, I would argue, the happy outcome of having named people as the purpose of the work, rather than alternative methods of working.

      This cross-references nicely with Shiela Brennen's Public, First piece.

    2. de-centering the exclusive and hierarchical modes of humanistic knowledge production the university is seen by many practitioners as favoring–but also, as Mary Mullen has recently pointed out, to valorizing the new class of intellectuals who maintain the university’s status precisely by valorizing non-academic knowledges within academic frameworks

      Is this the character of a public humanities that we still sense?

    3. In essence, the idea of “the public humanities” had first been leveraged against academic humanists, in an effort to induce them to engage broader publics–and then by academic humanists, in order to build space for alternative methods of engagement against reigning paradigms of humanistic inquiry.

      are we in a third epoch now? how might it be characterized?

    4. infused with its longing for relevance and, unfragmented, universal conversations and understandings, and for closing the allegedly growing linguistic and social barriers between academics and publics

      knowing this complicated history of moralizing that produced an early public humanities, how can we be socially engaged, embrace openness, but resist the potential prying of eyes that would seek to diminish or upset the goals of a modern open humanities?

    5. “public” and “academic” were intuitively understood by most people as binarily opposite phrases

      Do we agree? What cultural or societal indicators can we point out that show otherwise, or affirm this claim? I think part of what I am interested in is making this seem less true.

    6. see in it the frustration of the new class of professionals in the state humanities councils with academic humanists whom they saw as disengaged with non-academic publics.

      ooof. Seems to me like this divide has continued and deepened over time, with the exception of the digital humanities which is purposeful about translation of academic humanities work to/across an open internet to whomever is on the other side of the tube.

    7. There was, after all, public humanities before there (quite recently) was the phrase “public humanities”, and those of us for whom the term has meaning know that there are still many more public humanists than the very small proportion who now claim the name explicitly.

      And I think we still have a common conception of a "public intellectual" that may be a humanist, or someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Is it useful to claim and apply a term that has baggage to describe working with the public in mind as an audience?

    8. organizations that engage the public in conversations

      For me this sounds more like a definition of cultural heritage, which often present humanistic work to the public, but what do we lose when PH is owned by organizations?

    1. relevant, useful, and productive

      Are these the goals of all public humanities work? If not, what would we like to claim that the goals should be?

    2. Projects must be accessible to those identified as potential audiences in a number of important ways.

      Broadly defined accessibility, and as mentioned above, discoverability, are other key characteristics. Again, as a librarian, I know that both of those things are accomplished through well-structured data, extensive project pre-planning and development, descriptive metadata, and some level of technical knowledge and/or infrastructure. Does that mean that a future-oriented public humanities must include enriched data with an information scientist co-constructing the layers underneath the "scholarship"?

    3. Before customizing an Omeka site, the team tested the site architecture, content, functionality, and terminology with different users using paper mock-ups. Once the site was prototyped in Omeka, the team spent time on the National Mall with friends and family members to test different iterations of the site before the beta launch.

      This and next paragraph sound a lot like the design thinking user experience buzz that is present in tech culture these days. Empathy as a core principle in humanistic scholarship. Would it be too strong to claim empathy as another key characteristic of a new public/open humanities?

    4. This means working with those groups to identify the needs of a potential platform, assess its functionality, and then measure its effectiveness for communicating ideas.

      Would it be too backwards to work with our communities/audiences to define our research agendas and projects? What are the needs of your neighborhood, apartment complex, or city commission district and how can your scholarship connect and inform? That seems like an impossible task for a university to be that local/outward facing. But what if?

    5. must begin by identifying audiences outside of the academy

      Yes, good! So, we must teach our colleagues to do specialized work for a dissertation committee, and then a tenure committee in a specific department, and then a small group of co-specialists, and all the while identifying an audience outside the academy. Of course we couldn't explore this topic very deeply without questioning the systems that disallow this very thing to be possible. I am cautiously optimistic... but wholly appreciate Brennan putting this in writing so we can hearken to it as a precept.

    6. This meant historians could, and should, build digital projects and platforms that would be used, and useful, and never isolated from the larger networks of libraries, archives, and museums.

      This raises a really hard question for me, a librarian: what does it mean that libraries, archives and museums are often the playplaces of academics, and how does that nullify the possibility of a true public orientation? I think its possible to argue that humanities projects can often become isolated within the network of libraries, archives, and museums. What other cultural or social organizations could be the emergent vehicle for humanities scholarship to flow into the world?

    7. many scholars did not rethink the structures and relationships involved in that communication flow

      interesting. So, the field adapted to new forms of public engagement, but didn't take the opportunity to evolve/transform the "scholarly communication" processes and methods of the time. What opportunity do we have now then, to respond to labor movements, socio-political chances, AND challenge the scholarly communication system as we know it?

    8. These practitioners often did not identify their work as “public history”; rather, some referred to this work as “applied history” (National Council on Public History). Their work was, and still is, service-driven, carrying with it a significant amount of intellectual labor and institution building.

      The applied, service-driven nature of this kind of labor, in my opinion, is perhaps why it has been devalued in the academy. In the Research Enterprise University, this work looks like the gray category of "Service" that is hard to quantify, and thus hard to count in a matrix of prestige. Is this taught into, or out of graduate programs?

    9. by not seeing “the public” as real people they have sometimes viewed “the public” as an unidentified “other.”

      How do we avoid othering "the public" in a more open humanities scholarship? Attaching the work directly to a community seems to be part of the solution. Personalizing and humanizing the subjects of our work... I wonder if much of this impulse happens in classrooms, and so is not readily 'public', but is part of a core value for many humanists.

    10. intentional decision from the beginning of the project that identifies, invites in, and addresses audience needs in the design, as well as the approach and content

      Ok, so, Brennan is arguing that an essential characteristic of public humanities is invitating in, rather than promoting to a particular community. I like that as a core value.

    11. “cracking open history as a democratic project, and doing it transparently, in public.

      I appreciate how public fits and works well in history, due to the connection with museums, historical societies, etc. How would one practice Public American Literature, or Public Asian Religions? The connection is a little less clear in non-history disciplines.

    12. Public history and humanities practices—in either digital or analog forms—place communities, or other public audiences, at their core.

      Having a website for your research does not a public humanist make. What I read here is that the academic and applied discipline of public history is focused on community engagement (think museum education program for example.) Whats the opposite of that? Are regular historians not necessarily focused on the community/public audience?

    13. Skeptics ask why academics have lost their publics, while proponents point to popular digital humanities projects (Bender).

      I'd be interested to ask this question again these days... have ALL academics lost their publics, or is this more of a humanities issue? I think the sciences in recent years have done lots to regain/create a public audience for their work. I think we could even say that the data-focused social sciences are having a heyday.