Alright folks, I don’t really have much to say here. Instead, I’ll provide a link (PDF) to a copy of the bid we submitted nearly a year ago. Be warned that it includes some egregious typos and other fun* stuff. Continue reading
With respect to my prior post….
We could do this at the Duck. We could create a dedicated blog. We could impress upon APSA that this might make a worthwhile experiment and that they should host it. At the very least, I am happy to handle the logistics for a few trial panels or presentations myself.
As my post on “open access” demonstrates, I’ve been thinking a lot about International Relations journals over the last few months, particularly with respect to digital media. Charli’s excellent presentation on the discipline and “web 2.0” fell at an interesting time for me, as I was working on a journal bid. My sense is that academic International Relations journals have a mixed record when it comes to fulfilling their varied functions in the field, and that better internet integration would help matters. This post seeks to make that case — albeit in a very preliminary way — but also might be read as a rumination on purpose of IR journals… and an attempt to raise questions about the state of journals within international studies.
I guess a good place to start might be with the “official line” on academic journals. What are they for? The quasi-random people behind the wikipedia page on the subject write:
An academic journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as forums for the introduction and presentation for scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews.
We often hear about journals as sites for “leading” and “cutting-edge” research on particular topics and, depending on the journal, particular inflections. But, as many commentators point out, the time from submission to publication at many prestige journals now lasts at least year. Articles sometimes accumulate a great deal of citation and discussion by appearing at online depositories, such as SSRN. Indeed, work in International Relations — most often quantitative — gets de facto peer reviewed many times before it appears in a journal. Indeed, this kind of peer review is arguably less stochastic and, in aggregate, more complete than what a manuscript receives at a journal.
My sense (and that, I believe, of many others) is that academic journals serve a number of purposes that are connected, but not always tightly coupled, to idealized accounts of what they’re good for.
My claim is as follows: every one of these purposes is better met by embedding scholarly journals in Web 2.0 architectures and technologies, whether open-access or not, peer-reviewed or not. The particular advantage of these hybrids lies in vetting, publicizing, and constituting a scholarly community.
Digital environments promote post-publication peer review both by allowing comments on articles and by facilitating the publication of traditional “response” pieces. There’s no reason to believe that they undermine the traditional vetting mechanisms, as they handle core articles the same way as non-embedded academic journals.
Traditional journals, on the other hand, do a poor job of publicizing work; particularly older articles that disappear into the ether (or the bowels of the library). That’s why blogs such as The Monkey Cage have occupied such an important position in the landscape. A journal embedded in shifting content — blogs, blog aggregation, web-only features, promotion of timely articles and articles that speak to recent debates in other journals — keeps people coming back to the site and, in doing so, exposes them to journal content.
The advantages in terms of constituting and maintaining a scholarly community should be obvious. Web 2.0 integration promises to transform “inputs into community” into ongoing intellectual transactions among not only scholars, but also the broader interested community.
As alluded to above, this transformation is already occurring. But I worry about two aspects of its trajectory.
The Journal of Information Technology and Politics is offering free online access to its current Special Issue of Politics and Web 2.0, put together by Andrew Chadwick, just for the week of APSA. Here’s the table of contents:
“Guest Editor’s Introduction
“The Internet and Politics in Flux”
“Realizing the Social Internet? Online Social Networking Meets Offline Civic Engagement”
– Josh Pasek; eian more; Daniel Romer
“Typing Together? Clustering of Ideological Types in Online Social Networks”
– Brian J. Gaines; Jeffery J. Mondak
“Building an Architecture of Participation? Political Parties and Web 2.0 in Britain”
– Nigel A. Jackson; Darren G. Lilleker
“Norwegian Parties and Web 2.0”
– Øyvind Kalnes
“The Labors of Internet-Assisted Activism: Overcommunication, Miscommunication, and Communicative Overload”
– Rasmus Kleis Nielsen
“Developing the “Good Citizen”: Digital Artifacts, Peer Networks, and Formal Organization During the 2003–2004 Howard Dean Campaign”
– Daniel Kreiss
“Lost in Technology? Political Parties and the Online Campaigns of Constituency Candidates in Germany’s Mixed Member Electoral System”
– Thomas Zittel
“Internet Election 2.0? Culture, Institutions, and Technology in the Korean Presidential Elections of 2002 and 2007”
– Yeon-Ok Lee
“The Internet and Mobile Technologies in Election Campaigns: The GABRIELA Women’s Party During the 2007 Philippine Elections”
– Kavita Karan; Jacques D. M. Gimeno; Edson Tandoc Jr.
I notice two things about this line-up. One is that it’s great to see political scientists taking seriously the empirical study of social media. There is a dearth of articles like these in mainstream poli-sci journals.
Second the papers the ended up in the special issue represent a broad definition of Web 2.0 but a narrow definition of “politics”: looks like a lot of comparative electoral studies. That’s important of course, but I think there’s a lot of work to do examining the relationship of Web 2.0 to other aspects of politics: movements, understandings of copyright, framing processes, the law, international diplomacy. Also citizen-government interface, the boomerang effect, representation in politics, political satire and politics, to say nothing about the politics of everyday life.
Perhaps a Special Issue of Perspectives on Politics will take up some of these broader concerns down the line? Hint, hint.
What can I say? It’s APSA Conference Week and blogging is sluggish. Therefore:
Twitter was down for two hours yesterday, assumed to have been the target of a cyberattack. BBC now reports that the target of the attack, which also affected Facebook and Google, was a single individual, Georgian blogger Cyxymu.
“”[The] attack appears to be directed at an individual who has a presence on a number of sites, rather than the sites themselves,” a Facebook spokesman told BBC News. “Specifically, the person is an activist blogger and a botnet was directed to request his pages at such a rate that it impacted service for other users.”
It is still not known who perpetrated the attack or why they may have targeted Cyxymu and his accounts. However, in an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the blogger blamed Russia. “Maybe it was carried out by ordinary hackers but I’m certain the order came from the Russian government,” he said.
The blogger has previously criticised Russia over its conduct in the war over the disputed South Ossetia region, which began one year ago. A previous statement by Facebook said that the attack on the websites where he held accounts was “to keep his voice from being heard”.
Other sites such as Live Journal, where Cyxymu has his blog, were also targeted in the attack on Thursday.
I don’t know much about the nuts and bolts of orchestrating such an attack. But assume for a moment that speculation is correct – that the act was perpetrated by a government to silence its opposition. The event would have seemed to have precisely the opposite effect, as Cyxymu’s dissident blogging has now made world headlines and increased, rather than decreased, his exposure.
Actually, one can hardly imagine that any government’s tactical thinking could be so flawed, as any reasonably informed follower of the relationship between Web 2.0 and transnational politics could surely have predicted this outcome. On the contrary, if we adopt the police investigator’s modus operandi of asking who stands to benefit from the act, one might actually suspect the dissident blogger himself, or one of his sympathists, or even a random hacker aimed at sending a strong message to governments that it’s ineffective to attempt to shut down online political discourse. What better way to pre-empt and turn the tables on government efforts at repression than to stage a repressive act impacting a wide community of users, whose source cannot easily be tracked, and then go finger-pointing?
If it was a government, hopefully all governments will have learned a lesson: web 2.0 is much more useful as a tool of global civil society than as a tool to silence it.
Other theories on whodunnit? Comment away.
More bric-a-brac in lieu of genuine posts of a quasi-analytical nature. This shall continue until the NSF Political Science Division’s target date for research proposals passes. At least now I’m posting bric-a-brac. (Don’t worry, before long I’ll be back with an onslaught of political insights from my wild roadtrip west, and by the start of the semester, back to blogging as usual.)
Today’s throwaway post is inspired by my current immersion in questions about how Web 2.0 is affecting the study, teaching and production of international affairs. Radio Free Europe obliges me (left) with a handy visual to either prove or poke fun at my point. For their full and very funny Facebook-ization of last week’s current events, click here.
As some of you may recall, I began my blogging career on the Duck by commenting on the political impact and appropriation of YouTube. Back then it was citizens using YouTube to ask questions of the Presidential candidates. Now President Obama is doing with YouTube what FDR did with radio.
Good thing my colleagues up here in the Pioneer Valley have organized a conference on the way YouTube is impacting US politics, so that I don’t have to divert attention from my real research agenda to follow up on the kinds of questions I asked in that long-ago post. The “YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States” conference kicks off tomorrow at University of Massaschusetts-Amherst, and I urge you to check it out.
Reasons why I’m excited about this event, though I’m not an Americanist:
1) The 2008 Presidential campaign was historic not just because of the outcome, but because of the process: the breadth of re-engagement by both American voters and global civil society, largely through the netroots. Speakers include Max Harper, who ran Obama’s Change.gov media campaign last year; and the Communications Director for the House Judiciary Committee. I’m bound to learn a lot about how IT is reshaping political culture.
2) Political scientists are paying much too little attention to Web 2.0 – not just YouTube but also other technologies that are revolutionizing the relationship between producers and users of information. This interdisciplinary crowd seeks to actively and rigorously study the politics of this transformation in the US context. How might IR scholars follow suit?
3) The conference is an organizational marvel, actively integrating Web 2.0 into the activities in novel ways. Like requiring presenters to create YouTube video versions of their research, which will be broadcast during the reception; and allowing audience members to post feedback and commentary directly onto the web-versions of the slides using Diigo (boy, ISA could take some pointers from these folks).
4) Also, the presentations will also be webcast live using Panopto for those not able to attend, which means we could discuss some of it here. Check out the program and online papers (each of which comes with its own YouTube video) and consider tuning in to some of this over the later part of the week.
A series of short posts will follow with targeted reflections on what I learned at panels and dinners this past week, and how it ties into my take on world events. For now however, let me share a few random things I learned while attending this year’s International Studies Association Annual Meeting in Manhattan:
1) “Lead pencil shavings” is, according to some but not others, apparently a coveted flavor for modestly expensive Italian wine. Who would have thought.
2)…Edward James Olmos is licensed to perform marriages in the state of California; a triplicate chant of “so say we all” is apparently quite a good substitute for the traditional wedding march.
3) The View Restaurant on the roof of the Marriott Marquis is “the only revolving roof top restaurant in New York.” And the Marriott Marquis proudly advertises this on a big sign by the elevators.
4) I am now in the market for an IPhone. This became glaringly obvious to me when, while drinking with my former doctoral students in a wireless cold-spot (that is, pretty much the entire Marriott if you weren’t one of those independently wealthy IR scholars), I noticed on the television across the bar that two nuclear submarines had “collided”, and only by appealing to a nearby colleague’s IPhone could I determine whether or not to stay put or ditch the Dogfish Head and start immediately blogging. (My lack of posting during ISA should make it obvious what I decided. However, see Sam Leith’s sardonic take on the whole “nuclear submarine fender-bender.”)
5) I will not be acquiring many of the available IPhone applications. Any tool designed to convince me that I have a 27.9 percent chance of being killed by “wildlife” in the Harmony View pub in Times Square is… well.
6) The impact of Web 2.0 on the actual profession of IR is unmatched by the impact of Web 2.0 on our professional association’s logistical planning. For more, see Peter’s post. Perhaps I should reconsider the article I was about to start cooking up with Dan Drezner about how Blogger and Facebook are changing everything in the discipline. It starts to seem a little silly throwing that idea out at a professional conference where you can barely obtain a Powerpoint projector.
7) A number of graduate students I met this year are apparently of the view that if they critique an established scholar’s writing, they need to apologize in advance, at least as long as they expect to be able to carry on a civil conversation with that scholar (me) over a drink. Let me disillusion all of this: engagement is flattery in academia, and part of our job is to include in our work a few targets for the next generation. Besides, if we can’t knock glasses at the end of the day with our epistemological adversaries, what fun is it to be surrounded by 4,000 political scientists?
8) In case this post leads any one to think that all I did at ISA is drink alcohol and geek out over gadgets and science fiction shows, let me assure you I imbibed a fair amount of coffee as well, and just to prove it check out this quote by Po Bronson, fresh off a $6 Starbucks cup:
“Failure is hard but success is harder. If you’re successful @ the wrong thing, the combination of money, praise and opportunity can lock you in forever.”
As I looked around at grad students hob-nobbing and junior professors like myself lurching from panel to lunch to coffee to workshop peddling our modest proposals, I began to hope that we’re all trying to succeed at the right thing, and wondering how we would know.
Greetings, all. Though I think Daniel hoped my early posts would concern mass killing (or, perhaps, the conquest of the Alpha Quadrant), I couldn’t help but comment on CNN’s Republican YouTube debate for my inaugural post.
Mainly, I wonder how different the debate would have been if the 35 questions aired had been chosen based on YouTube page views and comments, rather than selected by the media elite to fit the issues the candidates were prepared to discuss.
Demographics, for example. Out of the 35 videos selected for the debate, I counted only 6 featuring women. Only 2 featured people of color. And the debate of the “family values” party features no questions from minors, although many of the nearly 5,000 entries were from youth.
Too, the subject matter seemed peculiarly out of touch with the concerns of many voters. Few questions about foreign policy (Darfur, anyone?). Nothing about climate change (maybe because kids were under-represented as stakeholders – ever since polar bears became the poster children for global warming I know mine have been up in arms). And not a word about how the candidates would differentiate themselves from the policies of the Bush Administration.
But then again, perhaps I assume too much about the total population of entries. Could the digital divide simply result in a massive over-representation of gun-toting white males among the population of those submitting YouTube videos?
A fascinating qualitative analysis could and should be done on the total dataset of video entries to measure the gap between the population of entries and the sample that was used tonight to represent “the public agenda.” The findings would have important implications for our assessment of the YouTube debates as a genuine populist shift in electoral politics, rather than an attempt of the media barons to co-opt the emerging power of Web 2.0.