The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas, from the Chronicle

It’s all about carnivals for me recently, for some reason. Anyway, it’s gratifying to finally see some positive treatment of blogging in academia.

Academic blogs offer the kind of intellectual excitement and engagement that attracted many scholars to the academic life in the first place, but which often get lost in the hustle to secure positions, grants, and disciplinary recognition. Properly considered, the blogosphere represents the closest equivalent to the Republic of Letters that we have today. … Over the next 10 years, blogs and bloglike forms of exchange are likely to transform how we think of ourselves as scholars. While blogging won’t replace academic publishing, it builds a space for serious conversation around and between the more considered articles and monographs that we write.

And because I’m a geek, I just had to include this:

…the difference between academic publishing and blogging is reminiscent of “one of those Star Trek or Twilight Zone episodes where it turns out there is another species sharing the same space with us, but so sped up or slowed down in time, relatively, that contact is almost impossible.” Which is not to say that blogs and more conventional forms of publishing can’t complement each other very nicely.

Seems to me that the academic blogsphere provides a venue for informal peer review before the official peer review process begins. Who reads academic blogs? Our colleagues, our students and former students, our friends. We have the opportunity to get feedback on our ideas from all of these people before we write them up for publication. If one of the purposes of the peer review process is to improve the quality of scholarly writing, then surely more peer review would be a good thing. My question is, will blog posts be considered prior publication by publishers?