Blog Post

Think along with me: Democratizing knowledge redux

In this, my first blog post at HASTAC, let me tell you a little about what I'm interested in, how I plan to use this space, and how you can help. In the home stretch of my doctoral studies at Antioch University's leadership and change program, I'm undertaking a significant independent learning project to more fully consider the movement to democratize knowledge; this will lay the foundation for my dissertation proposal. As a former academic librarian and now association manager, this subject is of great interest to me.

Let me say a bit more on where I'm coming from as additional context. College and research librarians, who are committed to access to information, have been working for years to reform the formal system of scholarly communication which allows research and other scholarly writings to be created, evaluated, registered, disseminated, and preserved. Librarians have developed a values-based narrative calling for reform of the current system, pointing to inequity in access to information for a number of reasons. For example, the current system (of systems) is economically unsustainable due to commercial control, creates disadvantages for emerging digital formats and the adventurous scholarship made possible in the virtual world, fails to serve the public good, and marginalizes new scholars in the humanities who face the increasingly unrealistic standard of publishing a monograph to achieve tenure.

But you don't need me to tell you about these barriers or the potential for new forms (and new definitions) of scholarship. The HASTAC community is, in fact, already part of the change many wish to see in the world (to borrow from Ghandi).

While I found last falls HASTAC scholar's forum on the democratization of knowledge intriguing, I was a little too late to participate. My mentor for this independent project, Anne Balsamo, suggested that I blog here my literature review and emerging thoughts as a way to enter into a dialogue with a savvy group whose members are already thinking deeply about these issues. Brilliant! This sharing of research in progress will, in fact, be modeling the democratization of knowledge.

So, over the next several weeks, Ill be sharing summaries of what Im reading along with my reflections and questions as they arise. Heres where you come in; I'd like to invite you all into the conversation. What else should I consider as I map out this terrain? Who should I follow? What topics have I missed? What debates are happening in your disciplines? On your campuses? Outside the academy?

In the end, this is an exercise in problem finding. I hope to do some deep thinking and strengthen my knowledge base about the culture of participation and democratization of knowledge, developing a solid understanding of the key topics, disciplinary discussions, and debates. This should help me narrow down the scope and identify the questions Ill continue to explore in my dissertation. It should be a fun journey these next several weeks, and I'd be very pleased to have you join in.


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