Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Untethered narcissism"

An Inside Higher Ed piece on the ISA Governing Council's misguided proposal about blogging generated a comment thread in which one commenter writes:
Let's first stipulate that this is a stupid proposal, is inconsistent with academic freedom, and deserves to be voted down.
That said, there is something to the broader point that academic blogging does not often reflect well on our profession. The vast majority of the blogs I have seen are exercises in untethered narcissism, with a thin layer of academic content that mostly screams "look at me, look at ME". The possession of a Ph.D. or even a long vita does not automatically make one's opinions golden, or even especially interesting. There's a reason we subject our work to peer review.
It's o.k. to complain about narcissism, though I don't find narcissism in blogging quite as prevalent as the commenter here does, but what I dislike about this comment is the implication, perhaps unintended, that if one's views haven't passed peer review they don't deserve to be expressed. I hope that's not what the commenter was suggesting. Blog posts and journal articles are obviously different things, as all participants in this discussion acknowledge. And the reason for peer review is not to keep "uninteresting" opinions out of circulation but rather, at least in theory, to maintain certain scholarly standards. If the commenter finds blogs to be exercises in narcissism, no one is forcing him to read them. And since most blogs probably have smallish readerships, it's unlikely they can do much damage to the image of the academic profession, regardless of their content. (As to whether this particular blog is an academic blog, that's in the eye of the reader. I don't have an academic job, as I've mentioned [narcissistically?] before.)

No comments: