Our Internet intellectuals lack the intellectual ambition, and the basic erudition, to connect their thinking with earlier traditions of social and technological criticism. They desperately need to believe that their every thought is unprecedented. Sometimes it seems as if intellectual life doesn’t really thrill them at all. They never stoop to the lowly task of producing expansive and expository essays, where they could develop their ideas at length, by means of argument and learning, and fully engage with their critics. Instead they blog, and tweet, and consult, and give conference talks—modes of discourse that are mostly impervious to serious critique.
The Internet Intellectual | The New Republic
By Evgeny Morozov on October 12, 2011 (via danpatterson)
It’s a shame that both the accusation above and the review that this quote comes from are so filled with anger and bile because it clouds what’s actually a very interesting question: why is it that a world filled with hyperlinks and semantic searches can’t seem to spend much time connecting back to pre-internet work?
That question is also part of the answer: who wants to bother submitting papers to conferences, hoping that they get accepted and published so that you can talk about your ideas twelve months from now when you can affect tangible change by posting them to the fucking internet right fucking now?
Would we even have half of the internet we have now if people like danah and clay waited years to publish their work on online social behavior and community? And, by the way, if you spend any time in a half decent web community, you soon learn that’s it’s nothing but a giant critique machine.
The other, smaller problem with this “critique” is that Jeff Jarvis wrote a fucking business book. Faulting him for not wasting hundreds of pages on theory is like faulting Dr. Phil for not citing Abraham Maslow.
First, I think that the original New Republic article is too harsh and indeed narrow minded. But do you know “who wants to bother submitting papers to conferences, hoping that they get accepted and published”? MY WIFE. (Look, I hyperlinked to her, how forward thinking of me, if only her entire body of work resided on her personal blog).
She’s also a #Literature editor for Tumblr. So… I don’t know. I hate all of you a lot.
That’s great, Chris, and that’s why I think she should do both — submit papers and post to a tumblr.
My partner has been posting snippets of her research to various blogs and Tumblrs for years (culturalbyt.es, Bytes of China, Infoperpeteia, 88bar, Ethnography Matters) while continuing to submit her longer pieces for conferences and publications.
While she’s had her fair share of “published” papers, it’s her blog posts that get reposted, retweeted, discussed, debated, and ultimately reported on in the mainstream. And it’s on the basis of that work that she gets asked to keynote the very conferences she still submits papers to.
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