You don’t have to search far in the realm of the academy to find those who “pooh pooh” blogs. But this is slowly changing, and the discussion below on the meaning of “heresy” on the First Things blog is a good case in point. The three interlocutors are all professional theologians, and the issue they are nutting out among themselves is as serious as any discussion that would normally take place over a period of months in an monthly academic journal. To be sure, the discussion has more of the feel of a faculty room debate than a dissertation, but I think what we are seeing here is that the blogging genre can be just as effective in making a sound academic point.
Professor Oakes makes a couple of observations nevertheless. First, the subject itself came up as a “blogging” issue. He carried out his (brief) research by doing
a random spot-check of some Catholic blogsites of a conservative bent–where heresy is often used as the term of choice when these bloggers are in their Colonel Blimp harumphing mood–tells me it’s time for some clarity here.
Secondly, he adapts his academic style to the new genre, saying:
let me assert my conclusion without all the attendant footnotes to establish my case (this blog entry, after all, is not my Habilitationsschrift).
I think the difficulty that academics will have in embracing the blogosphere is precisely that they cannot tell the difference between a blog and an Habilitationsschrift. Blogs still have their footnotes and references, of course, but the footnotes are the comments and the references are the hyperlinks.
And I think I have said before, in answer to the accusation that blogging does not allow “peer review” like a conventional journal, that blogs are subject to much greater “peer review”–or at least peer examination–than any journal. Again, the discussion between Oakes, Barr and Pistick bears this out.
So keep on blogging, guys.* We are the future of the academy.
(*generic term including Louise and Dixie etc.).