My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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::gulp:: oh shit.

So, a while back, Nicole Ellison and i got this brilliant idea ::cough::choke:: to put together a special issue of JCMC (a fantastic journal in our field) when we were plotting about a workshop for an upcoming conference (announcement on that soon). Based on our guesstimate, we figured that we could find six solid articles on social network sites and that it would help everyone to have them published. We sent a CFP around, hoping for the best. Yesterday was the deadline for proposals and we are faced with a reality that is beyond anything either of us could’ve imagined. We received over 100 submissions from researchers around the world doing amazing work on a wide variety of related topics. I’m sitting here, drowning in proposals, mouth wide open. I had *no* idea that this much work was going on in this space. None. Completely shocked. And then it dawned on me… No matter what i do, i’m faced with the reality of having to reject fantastic, solid research.

::eyes wide:: I have to admit that i’m speechless. Shocked dumb.

At some point, i’m going to have to wake up from this stupor and connect with Nicole so that we can start evaluating the proposals. God, this is terrifying. When we decided to do this, i never thought about what it would mean to _reject_ people whose work should be published. ::shudder:: I’ve had to reject people before but not like this; usually, i have to reject stuff under blind review that isn’t ready for prime time. This week, i’m going to have to reject work that is ready and good. I’m also sad because i was hoping to give lots of productive feedback, but there’s no way that’s possible now. I feel terrible about this.

I also need to start plotting again… There needs to be another way to get more of this work out there. And i want to figure out ways to connect all of these researchers since there’s so much overlap. (And the answer is not create my own journal… that would _kill_ me.) For those of you academics out there, what are other related journals that we can encourage people to submit to? I *hate* that we’re going to have to reject so many people’s rocking work so i want to at least provide alternative venue suggestions.

For those of you non-academics, i’m sure this seems all weird but publishing is the core of what we do. And people really want to publish in good journals with work that’ll complement what they are doing. Special issues that are on your topic are the best thing in the world because it means collaborating with your peers who understand what weird work you’re doing. This is also one of the major drives to put together a special issue. You don’t get a lot of credit for doing it, but you get to see all of the cool relevant work in your area, engage with scholars of like minds, and learn from them. I know it’s weird but i really love this stuff and it’s moments like this when i’m simultaneously overwhelmed/terrified and utterly psyched.

(To all of you who submitted who are reading this, my sincerest thank you for contributing. This is going to be a very competitive issue that i think will be valuable for all of us. I’m really psyched even if i’m completely overwhelmed this morning.)

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30 comments to ::gulp:: oh shit.

  • AJ

    For all of us just interested in social networking and not in the world of academia, this research is useless to us in journals. I’m sure being published is a big reason for researchers to research but the topic of the research greatly lends itself to alternate methods of “publishing” – more people who care about social networking are likely to read it (and it’s more useful) on a website or something.

  • Why is it useless to you in journals? Are you assuming that journals are locked down and only in libraries? The reason that i chose JCMC is precisely because it is online and available for anyone to read. The reason why my latest publications have been in Reconstruction and First Monday is because anyone can access them online if they wish. No subscriptions necessary.

    I think that it’s very important for academics to be able to get credit for their work (which requires peer-reviewed publications) while making it accessible to wider audiences. While there is certainly value to the odd blog entries, part of what makes a well-thought out publication more valuable than a blog entry is that it tells a full story – it’s not bits and pieces here and there. While i blog regularly, i see my primary conversations to discourse happen through publications. All of these publications are online which makes them available to you. I see my contribution to conversation happening through esssays and op-eds which cover less turf and have a more polemical style. Again, all are online.

    I think it’s dangerous to auto-reject journal publications; they have a lot of value for different audiences when their publishers make certain that they are accessible.

  • Aprille

    I totally agree with AJ – I have a few touchpoints into the research in this area, but hardly enough. The thought of all the papers you received excited me, but if the route taken is an academic journal one, then I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to it. At a minimum, I’d love to see a site with abstracts and contact info.

  • Aprille

    Typing at the same time – I haven’t found these online, but will follow your links. Still think an abstract sharing place wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  • joe

    of course, the biggest disservice would be if you sat on them for a really long time, especially the borderline ones. Because then they can resubmit somewhere else. I’d suggest a quick, thematic triage with a focus on getting good work that doesn’t fit rejected quickly so that they can resubmit elsewhere.

  • Despite its potential contribution to your untimely demise, starting a fresh journal on a system like Open Journaling System (I assume Berkeley runs it, but that may be a bad assumption) with a few of your colleagues from around the world is probably the best idea.

    Second idea is to talk to an academic press with a proposal for an edited volume.

    Both are still a bunch of work, but a great deal of the work that is typically associated with getting either of those endeavours off the ground is already done, or in progress (i.e., recruitment of contributors, reviewing the submissions).

    A nice problem to have – a surfeit of intelligent and insightful riches! Congratulations.

  • I’m with AJ as well – what can a journal do that blogs can’t? Academics’ blogs regularly critique essays or papers on other academics’ blogs, which strikes me as a more rich, scalable, transparent, and robust mechanism than old-school journal peer review. It also allows for a spectrum of scrutiny – from unreviewed to completely deconstructed – that the binary published-or-not journal system does not.

    Honestly, I have a hard time seeing the journal system as anything other than the last gasp of academia as a closed, elitist social hierarchy. It places hard limits on academia – an author is either inside or outside the group of published academics. It doesn’t seem to have any other function that blogs don’t do better.

    (Granted, I’m writing this as an applicant to the New York State Bar, but at least lawyers are bald-faced in their ruthless campaign to maintain their monopoly on legal practice. There is also, I think, a strong regulatory argument for separating people into officers of the court with special legal obligations, and non-lawyers without such obligations. I have a hard time seeing how the spread of knowledge that academia states as its raison d’etre is served by distinguishing academics from non-academics independent of the content of their writings.)

  • Could you delegate some of the review labor to some trusted colleagues? 100 papers sounds like a job for a committee.

  • Hi danah,

    I think there are probably a lot of academic journals out there that may be interested to take up one or more of these papers, depending on core themes in the associated work.. The dilemma you are now in is actually something that I have thought would come soon (though not specifically to you guys/JCMC).. Promoting good research by young scholars is one of the main purposes behind a current project of mine.

    If you want it, I’d like to help you and Nicole.

    Call it a journal placement service, or whatever, but if you two think these papers need to find proper homes in the academic sphere then I definitely would like to help.

    I have a pretty good feel for journals in sociology, political science, education, and economics. I’m more than willing to do the research and outreach for other areas as well.

    Just let me know–

    Paul

  • One thing that journals can do that blogs can’t is get authors jobs in academia. Publishing in scholarly venues is one of the requirements of getting an academic job. Sure, reading academic blogs is great, but remember that making a living from blogging is a pipe dream for all but the most popular bloggers. Maybe that will change in the future, but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

    Also, having an article published in a journal guarantees a certain level of quality (at the very least, typos will have been mostly eliminated). Having a paper in a journal will also make it more visible among the authors’ peers in research. After all, why should anyone read some random grad student’s blog? There might be the world’s greatest research being presented on it, but there are plenty of other blogs out there, so how can other researchers find this person’s work?

    You might counter by saying a blog for presenting research should be created, one where the papers submitted are vetted by knowledgeable people, in which case you’ve essentially recreated the journal system online, like JCMC has done.

  • Mark makes a good suggestion, too..

    It might be a nice opportunity for you and Nicole to pitch and edited volume.

    Maybe publishing houses friendly to the intersection of social science research and information communication technologies, or social networking research? Here’s a very incomplete list of potential outlets:

    Sage Publications
    University of Chicago Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Blackwell Publishing
    Perseus Books Group

    If there are 6-10 papers that hit on public policy implications, my old shop at Brookings (which houses the BI Press) would certainly be worth a shot..

  • Michael Chui

    And i want to figure out ways to connect all of these researchers since there’s so much overlap.

    The solution is clear:

    Make a social network site. =D

  • Frankly, one thing that journals do that blogs don’t do is provide the structure and cycles necessary to refine an argument. The editing process, while antithetical to blogging, has great value for writing long-lasting pieces meant to be of use outside the moment.

    Writing a blog post is about writing a pithy bit meant for mass consumption RIGHT NOW. It’s not about building an argument let alone situating one. The context is the ephemeral flow of conversation which is why many of my blog posts make no sense outside of the month they were written. When i blog, i don’t try to lay out my methodological approach; i don’t try to systematically build on prior arguments; i don’t try to locate the conversation. I allow mass overgeneralizations to emerge because they are valuable for discussion. This is not what’s appropriate in a journal.

    If i want to build on someone else’s argument, i want to know how they came to their conclusions; i want an in-depth analysis with everything properly contextualized. When i blog, i throw out conclusions and hypotheses piecemeal in a complete state of disarray for my own amusement. (This is why my blog pisses off most academics, particularly when folks go around citing it.)

    While i’m super glad my random musings are valuable to lots of folks, there’s a reason that people pay me to synthesize in coherent form. For some, this takes the form of an hour long overview talk. For others, this means consulting on their project where i can help translate research to application for them. For academia, this means fleshing out and situating arguments. My blog, while useful, doesn’t substitute any of these three other forms of expressions. That’s why i can blog and still have a career.

    In other words, there are different kinds of expressions in different venues. The structural aspects of each afford different types of information flow. Personally, i don’t think that my blog will ever have the depth of content as my publications. At the same time, i realize that for some, depth doesn’t matter.

  • I know you guys might be thinking about this, but what about publishing those good papers but outside the accepted*6* on a different part of the website? I’m sure those people submitting those papers have approached it in such a way that is written for a journal rather than a blog post (more methodical). And if they are as good as you say they are, I’m sure it would do everyone some good =)

  • jkd

    All of the reasons cited for why journals are important are definitely, absolutely true. I think the journal process is an important and valuable one.

    But.

    Clearly there’s something else going on here. Even assuming that half of the papers submitted were written in Pig Latin (which is almost certainly not the case), and then only a third of those remaining are near-publication-worthy: that’s still three times as many as can actually get published in this special issue. Which means even figuring uncharitably (and I’m guessing there’s a lot more good work going on out there than this back-of-the-matchbook calculation accounts for – or even than was submitted!), a bunch of good work won’t see the light of day…

    …as journal publications.

    But clearly there is a burgeoning opportunity here – especially given the nature of the research – to create more of a Third Space, more rigorous than blogs (which is good for both the authors and readers – I want to be held to a higher standard than, “Do I wanna hit publish?”) and less space-delimited and slow-moving than journals.

    Given how many submissions there were, it’s clear that there are a lot of people doing work in this area – so there are a lot of people who could dream up and/or help implement such an alternate space or process, not just danah.

  • danah:

    It seems to me that the structural affordances of blogs that you cite are not inherent to the medium. This may be a semantic issue – one person’s blog is another’s graph narrative is another’s online journal – so maybe we should pin down what we think distinguishes a blog from an online journal.

    My claim is this: decentralized, individual publishing allows everyone to publish and to critique, and mechanisms exist within the blogging medium that allow the academic community to reproduce all of its operations while rendering them transparent and eliminating arbitrary gatekeepers. What is a journal other than an aggregator? If it has an editorial board and an editorial process, is there any reason why those functions can’t be decentralized? I can start a journal as a blog aggregator, publish my criteria for inclusion, and wait for authors to post papers that meet those criteria. Various editors – with or without my approval – can vet the piece, either before it gets posted or afterwards through criticism, and the process becomes available to anyone who’s interested. The final product may not be an edited paper, but a thread through the blogosphere of posts and responses; but long threads often get rewritten in summary, and there’s no reason a final – or at least tentatively authoritative – paper can’t get published at some point. The blogosphere allows editorial input from everyone; if the original author wants to reshape the paper in response to a subset of those editors, this starts to look an awfully lot like the journal peer review process.

    Frankly, I think Sarapen is right: journals are different from blogs because they are an index of authors approved for membership in an elite, and the current elite requires publication in a journal as a mechanism for recognizing new members. _These_ people are to be taken seriously; others are not. And who chooses new members? The current members, of course. Anyone who has been exposed to academic politics knows that the current system does a pretty poor impersonation of a meritocracy; for instance, I assume, danah, that you’ve encountered the usual obstacles that attach to working outside of the focus of any one academic department. Academic departments are entrenched power structures, and journals are an expression of that power. That’s why they continue to exist. “Discipline and Publish” has become a cliched title for papers critiquing academic publishing, but that’s because it gets the idea right: journals operate on the same principles of information asymmetry as Bentham’s panopticon as deconstructed by Foucault, rendering the editor and his operations invisible while subjecting the author to complete scrutiny. Blogs eliminate this asymmetry, making editorial operations transparent while also eliminating the barriers to starting new “journals” (i.e., blogger networks). This means that readers can choose their authorities freely and examine the operations of those authorities as they critique each others’ texts. The filtering and editorial functions of journals are preserved by the recognition – or lack of recognition – given to a publication or author by a given community of scholars/bloggers.

  • Matt – while i’d love to say there’s no value in journals, let’s all go to decentralized publishing, i think that this fundamentally misses the value of journal publishing (aside from validation for tenure).

    I have thrown my papers up to the blogosphere. I have a decent size audience who are knowledgeable about the subject. I’ve gotten fantastic feedback on wording, spelling mistakes, etc. I’ve also gotten fantastic feedback from my fellow academic friends and, because i blogged it, they often blog their feedback (but when i send it via email, they respond with email comments). I don’t get citation suggestions; i don’t get structural or argument citations; i don’t get methodological feedback. I also don’t get any response from senior researchers. Why? They don’t have time.

    Reviewing isn’t fun. Well, it was fun for the first two years when i was like, wheeeee i can look at all this new research! Now, it’s a task, a chore, something that i do out of respect for those who review my papers. I take reviewing very seriously but it is very very very time intensive. I don’t have time to comment on other people’s blog entries – how would i have time to read any post put up that would be labeled “research.”

    One of the things about formal research venues is that people typically don’t submit something until it is (mostly) finished. I mean, when you review for CHI, you don’t get a first draft. You get something that is really flushed through; it’s the authors’ best foot forward.

    You also get the opportunity for blind review. Even when you can figure out who the reviewer is, blind review is really helpful. It’s candid feedback that can be shared with power games hidden. Of course, it can be quite funny. Paul Dourish told me that his favorite reviews are where he’s told that he cited the wrong Dourish or he should go read Dourish.

    There are most certainly politics to academia and research in general, but to throw away the entire journal process is downright foolish. Finally, you can talk about it as membership to an elite system, but who calls it elite? I know plenty of people who don’t publish that way – they choose to write books or to blog. Who’s not taking these people seriously? Tenure committees. For a non-academic, this doesn’t matter at all. If a non-academic researcher wants to publish, by all means! So my question is are you challenging the elite system in the context of academia or externally? Cuz externally, i don’t think anyone cares.

    As for it not being about the technological affordances, i violently disagree. Little bitty windows motivate certain kinds of posts – Blogger learned this when they changed their posting structure – they got very different kinds of posts. RSS feeds motivate readers to only read the short things. Henry Jenkins is learning this the hard way because only his core fans are actually reading his full posts. I write an essay and it gets picked up 10x more than when i write a blog post. Why? It’s taken more seriously when all it is is a long blog post moved to a separate URL outside of a feed structure without the temporal limitation. Even when it’s on my own domain! Finally, while comments are all fine and well, i can tell you that less than 10% of the people who read this post will read the comments. And probably even less than that. According to feedburner, less than 2% of the feedreader readers click through to the full post. Even when i invite people to talk.

    There are people who want what they perceive to be vetted information given to them in a concise and predictable format. Journal articles are one way of this. Fox News is another; it’s quite different but it’s the same story – vetted (by Fox anchors) news in a predictable format. You learn to trust the vetting system to know what you’re going to get out of it. There is value to this. Of course, there are always exceptions too. I mean, the fact that i don’t have a PhD yet means that a lot of folks don’t want to pay attention to me – inside and outside of the academy. Ever notice how everyone on NPR or Fox is talked about as a “professor”? There’s a reason that Fox called me a “cultural anthropologist” – they couldn’t say PhD student and be taken seriously. It ain’t just the academy.

  • danah, if you can get permission – from the folks who do not get selected – to publish their works on your site or another appropriate site, that might be a solution. If there was a site with short abstracts and then links to the articles, that’d be great!

  • what is that thing about every problem searching for a solution about every wall being a door…

    this is such wonderful idea you commentors above come up with. i envision a cross between wikepedia and google scholar where recommendations lift openly submitted articles in the search results and where others are free to comment, critique and suggest edits.

    and besides, let us face truth square, journal editors are more affected by group think and confirmatory bias than all the other victims put together. they publish to reinforce what they already believe…

  • Greg Virola

    Some of this discussion makes me question that the fees that I spent for my subscription to an online research repository might have nothing to do with certain publishing pursuits.

    : I paid money to look for specific articles which some stranger offered decent money for a copy of (I didn’t find the articles) and paid the research repository a fee. Actually I started a subscription to the service, with the idea to cancel within 1 month, thus incurring only one month worth of fees.

    However, when I tried to cancel my subscription, I got the run-around and the 2nd month came all too quickly. :

    All because somebody offered decent money for certain research papers. I was railroaded. Go figure.

  • danah,

    I’ll buy your argument about blogging’s structural affordances with respect to RSS and its affinity for bite-sized posts. But the other stuff – that people don’t have the time or energy to do rigorous review of blog posts, that bloggers publish rough drafts instead of polished papers – is just artifacts of the historical accident wherein blogging was first popularized as an amateur pursuit. There’s nothing inherent in the medium that prevents people from taking their publishing and reviewing of blogs as seriously as they do with journals. But our concept of “blog” grew out of the concept of a personal journal or diary, rather than, say, an academic journal. People associate blogs with amateurish self-absorption, and that dictates what bloggers do with them. It’s just another example of ideas about an older medium being falsely extended to a new one, like early film being produced as stage-plays or the telephone being used like a fancy telegraph machine. People are beginning to awaken to the affordances of the medium and dissociate the idea of blogging from the historical accident of LiveJournal. Blogs are being taken more seriously every year, and people are figuring out what they’re good for. One of these things is academic discourse. They’re so good for it, in fact, that they will probably displace the journal system. Journals just don’t add enough value to the authors’ actual papers for them to be able to sustain themselves without some kind of external subsidy. This wasn’t true when they held a monopoly on academic publishing, but with self-publishing available to everyone, I don’t think the journal system can justify its existence.

    As for my elitism rant: yes, I meant to limit my analysis to academia. I agree with you that no one outside of academia cares about journals or about the politics of academic publishing. But they should. If the mission of the academy is the creation and dispersal of knowledge, then it has failed spectacularly in the second regard. Other institutions have done a much better job than the academy at sharing their expertise and allowing cross-fertilization of different fields of knowledge. And failure to share knowledge means less efficiency in creating new knowledge. Making academic discourse transparent to the world and allowing those outside a given field’s increasingly specialized, myopic focus to provide their input would be two big steps toward keeping the academy relevant. The author-centric nature of blogging also provides a mechanism for scholars to become “stars” without the support of an academic department; this means that people whose scholarship falls outside of (or threatens) the established departments are given a chance to redefine entire fields by shifting the focus of readership.

    The reason I’m so up in arms about this probably has a lot to do with the legal academy. It’s a more extreme version of what goes on in other departments, and I think it illustrates where they’re headed: it’s almost completely insulted from the rest of the academy, so its scholarship is uninformed by other fields’ discoveries; publishers are all in bed with Lexis and Thompson/West, two of the sleaziest companies on the face of the earth; and professors get hired based on how well their ideas complement the existing members of the faculty, rather than the actual quality of their scholarship. They have nothing but contempt for their students, who they see as sell-outs; but they themselves aren’t above private practice on the side, and their fiduciary duties to clients get tangled up in their pedagogy all the time, especially in contentious fields. So if I seem particularly harsh toward the faults of academe, you can thank Columbia Law School.

    I understand that publicly-available online journals accomplish a lot of what I’m talking about. I just don’t think they do it as effectively. But at any rate, best of luck with the review process. Keep up the good work.

    Matt

  • Bertil

    danah,

    I don’t know about the quality, but some of your post (and comments) give me more of a head-ache than most papers, seminars and discussion at my university — and I put the same interest in asking the right question there than here. That’s a good sign to me, a very good one.

    When I’ve started reading the post that starts with:

    > Frankly, one thing that journals do that blogs don’t do is to provide the structure and cycles necessary to refine an argument.

    I immediately though: “You guy, you haven’t read danah’s latest paper (Reconstruction’s) about blogs being a medium, not a genre. . .” Then I scrolled down, seen the signature and felt ::Oups::

    Then I came to:

    > Paul Dourish told me that his favorite reviews are where he’s told that he cited the wrong Dourish or he should go read Dourish.

    Well: I don’t know if he enjoys the irony, or the better-than-self insight. But my point is: a blog is what you make of it, so I won’t argue about the name of what you’d ideally have. Let’s consider three aspects: two that were raised, and an third that is key in an academic work pattern.

    1. Peer-review, as in “citation suggestions; [...] structural or argument citations; [...] methodological feedback”. This is necessary. The consequence is text (like in First Monday) that are more difficult to read than even the far-above average blog (like this one).

    This has to do with nothing but the quality (and length) of your draft: post anything with some sample methodology, and you’ll get me on your back like no-one: a dozen interviewees, two transgendered? How is that representative, even remotely, of any population sample?

    If you want to get all that, I’m fine with it: just give us some meat to comment on, and tell us “Now bark: I’m listening”. Though, if you post “Bush is a coward (again)”, I’ll reply “Yeah!” and that will be it.

    2. URL, RSS and quotability: by all means! I’ve got RSS feeds for the AER, JEP, JEL (the three leading journals in Economics: one paper in each, and wait for the Nobel) updates twice a year. That day, the printer is hot, I usually buy aspirin, and cancel appointments.

    It leaves one question: do you want to make your journal with a paying access? How to pay for bandwidth, and for the referees?

    I really think combining these are possible: hey, my blog is like that! What blog? Well, there isn’t any post in it yet, because I haven’t been able to reach anything “that is really flushed through” (Note to non-academics: which is perfectly acceptable as a first-year PhD student). I promise any of the few posts will be with several parts, catchy subtitle, Jstor links… Better than FirstMon. And I have a cool name for it, too.

    This actually already exists for a larger scale than myself, and it works well: it’s called ArXiv.org, and for no reason is only for hard-science.

    3. Rhythm: that is an issue. All journals have a given number of papers, or pages, often both; most have clear, regular deadlines an publication period. This implies either that a journal publishes the best, say, six papers on the relevant topic of a given period; or that research output are regular, or regulated by referee work. Strong assumption.

    CMC, HCI studies have boomed recently (Over a 100 quality submissions? Not in medieval history…) and this challenged the ambiguity between quality work based on a competition, or a threshold. Digital technology allow us to publish it; good referee work is limited — so we have a contradiction here. How to resolve, i. e. how to scale?

    Maybe the way out is a very web 2.0-wy “empowering the user” approach (two, actually; well, three):

    * either:
    - ask every submitter to rate, comment, criticize five or ten papers;
    - make the top twenty a temporary referee team, (unable to vote for themselves) and have them work again to discuss and select the top layer of the cream;

    * or:
    - classify them by sub-field of research (ask MEJ Newman & M Girvan for sorting algorithms for papers, based on their references);
    - have them pool their work, discuss & elect the best paper ever in that particular matter;

    * or even combine the two:
    - classify them by sub-field;
    - have them rate in each sub-field the best contributors;
    - pool them as a referee team (outside their sub-field) and discussant (inside their sub-field).

    And as a sign of good will and a proof blogs can be more than chat and banter, I promise I will sent you a fierce discussion on your last three essays. Including reference, including methodology.

    And please, please someone who is a sociologist, of a senior academic, do the same: I’m not going to be the most relevant of all. Sorry.

  • danah, it’s great you got so many responses, should be a stellar JCMC issue. As for the overflow, I would love to see some of those articles published in the journals of the authors’ “home” disciplines, which I am guessing are fairly diverse. Though a lot of people doing internet/social network site research are obviously nominally interdisciplinary/interdepartmental or situated firmly in some kind of media studies or catch-all communication department, I bet the bulk are considered somewhat fringe-like within their nominal disciplines. While it’s great to have site-specific journals like JCMC for bringing this kind of stuff together, I think it’s really important also that the social sciences are more *generally* able to welcome it and recognize it as a valuable/useful/important site of research. That online interaction is interesting for a discipline’s own methodologies/guiding principles, not just that the discipline’s methodologies/guiding principles are a useful way to understand the internet.

    I didn’t submit an abstract this time because I didn’t feel my work was ready (and sounds like it’s a good thing because competition is stiff!). But if I *were* to create a publishable piece about – just by way of example – social network sites and linguistic variation, I would rather have that piece in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, Language in Society, or Journal of Linguistic Anthropology than JCMC or the like. This in no way reflects a negative attitude toward JCMC, but rather a recognition that a) most linguists haven’t heard of JCMC (or NMS etc) and b) I want more linguists to read about CMC work, which means putting it in their journals. I suspect this is probably the case in other disciplines too, though it’s possible that mine may just seem uniquely old-fashioned (but slowly modernizing itself). What you and Nicole specifically could do to facilitate this, I’m not sure, but maybe Paul’s offer above for “journal placement” could do some good.

    Also? A big social sciences social network conference! Sounds fantastic! With proceedings!

    Also, I just woke up, so I’m sorry if this isn’t the most eloquent.

  • Marcela

    Some journals which I’ve been getting things lately that might be appropriate: Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, New Media and Society, Behavior and Information Technology, Psychnology.
    I get the distinction between publishing in a journal and on a blog in terms of prestige, but am still trying to get around the hierarchy between presenting at a conference and publishing in a journal. It’d seem like papers would get more coverage at a conference, and maybe they’ll still accept some at the communities and technologies one even though it’s past the deadline, but so far CHI seems to be the only
    one that classifies as journal quality in my department…

  • KF

    danah — I’m coming to this discussion pretty late, but wanted to put in a plug for MediaCommons as a potential venue for putting the affordances of blog structures to work in publishing a limitless journal/edited collection/casebook. I’d love to talk with you more about this project….

  • I don’t know if journals like JCMC ever publish, as articles, annotated bibliographies. But perhaps one of the articles in your issue can be a structured, topical, bibliography, e.g., an annotated outline, of key articles published online.

    For the many articles you won’t fit as full-text in the issue, you can still consider including them in the bibliography. It’d still be a critically considered and organized communication, so you’d probably still have to / want to reject some things.

    An earlier comment mentioned including article abstracts, which would be great, space permitting.

  • As for my elitism rant: yes, I meant to limit my analysis to academia. I agree with you that no one outside of academia cares about journals or about the politics of academic publishing. But they should. If the mission of the academy is the creation and dispersal of knowledge, then it has failed spectacularly in the second regard. Other institutions have done a much better job than the academy at sharing their expertise and allowing cross-fertilization of different fields of knowledge. And failure to share knowledge means less efficiency in creating new knowledge. Making academic discourse transparent to the world and allowing those outside a given field’s increasingly specialized, myopic focus to provide their input would be two big steps toward keeping the academy relevant. The author-centric nature of blogging also provides a mechanism for scholars to become “stars” without the support of an academic department; this means that people whose scholarship falls outside of (or threatens) the established departments are given a chance to redefine entire fields by shifting the focus of readership.

  • Btw, i appreciate all of the suggestions. I will try to provide some of them to the authors who have submitted when we finalize our decisions.

    I will not be making the abstracts public or submitting them to another venue for the authors; this would be inappropriate and unprofessional. I want to offer them alternatives but they have complete control over where their materials go.

  • Steve

    Hi Danah,

    I’m a layperson with an interest in how social networking is shaping/reshaping society. As such, I sometimes find academic articles useful, although, frankly, I sometimes find that the scholarly apparatus distracts from a straightforward answer to the question of what does the author think and why does he/she think it, and what hard facts support the viewpoint. Nonetheless, it is often possible to skim an academic article and extract the “heart” of what is actually being said.

    My point being, is that I would really like to get a look at the research you have had submitted to you. Now I understand that for various reasons, a lot of these folks are committed to publishing in a Journal environment and would not find other presentations of their work acceptable. Let’s x them out of the picture, for this discussion. We’re then left with some significant number of authors who place a priority on seeing their work exposed effectively to an interested audience and might be willing to consider creative options.

    What might these look like?

    Well, I don’t know – but you might. I would ask you to, for a moment, take off the hat that labels you as a member of academia with an identification with the Academic culture and its particular customs. Then put on the hat that designates you as one of today’s leading authorities on the subject of how the design of an information system alternately facilitates or restricts the presentation of particular kinds of information, and particular interpersonal interactions related to that information.

    There is probably some optimum structure for providing an online venue for the disemmination of research on social networking. But I’m not asking you to find *that* structure. Just an approximation that will be “good enough for now”. Something simple, user-frinedly, and accessible to academics and laypeople alike. It will probably not look like Usenet, Blogger, Wikipedia, MySpace, or a traditional academic journal – although it might conceivably have attributes borrowed from any or all of these.

    Why not put something together and invite your rejectees, and others whose work might fit, to host copies of their work there. If that project is beyond your personal resources, I suspect from the activity on this thread that you would find ready collaborators.

    I suspect there are potentially wider implications here than just what to do with a hundred high quality rejected papers. Questions like is it time for the next iteration of how research is disseminated, and what might that look like. Questions like we are probably right about now passing the point where the social networking research community is/was small enough that someone in the field can have a good overview of who their colleagues are and what work they are doing. What comes next as that point is passed? And finally, what to my mind is THE question of the online age, how can a person with a thirst for knowledge “drink from the firehose” without bursting. How do we creatively confront the fact that the bandwidth of any individual human is tragically finite? Can we design a better firehose?

    (And the complementary question of achieving notice – how to be found as a “needle in a needlestack” as one felow on MySpace put it in a comment on designing his band page).

    Just a thought,
    -Steve

  • AJ

    Wow, plenty of intelligent comments after I left my rant :)

    Anyways, the decisions on abstracts are due today. How’d the review process go?

    (By the way, JCMC needs its own RSS feed, not one integrated through SLIS – could you please pass that on?)

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