Thursday, February 12, 2009

Still in Aggieland: Day 2

Today's symposium was really, really good.

I have to go to Minnesota to present, and I had no idea how I was going to frame my presentation, but now I think I know. I'll make KP write it, but whatever.

I remembered today that it can be both a great pleasure and incredibly frustrating to sit in a room full of academics/ scholars and discuss technological applications. However, the climate has changed inexplicably since 1997, when I first started working with faculty to implement technology into their teaching. At the time, e-mail addresses were just becoming common among instructors (they didn't want them, because then students would, you know, TALK AT THEM).

The purpose of the symposium was to discuss the transitional period we're in where traditional print forms of scholarly communication (ex: journals) are coming to an end, and the era of open access (ie: free and Google-able) scholarly communication will be the norm for faculty/ academics/ scholars. Printed journals have always been the mode of communication for presenting research, but higher ed institutions have been shy about what it will mean to have that material exist outside of expensive journal subscriptions that usually only wind up in libraries or professional collections. In short, it means people might actually find and read their work who are not researchers. It means its a lot more likely that in five years that when you Google, say, "Thermopylae", you might get legitimate, peer-reviewed research just past the Wikipedia entry.

Good stuff.

And that's sort of what my organization does, as well as preserving other tools for scholars to use for communicating with other scholars. And, of course, we're a library, so hosted repositories for all this stuff.

Faculty tend to be a bit uneasy about giving up on traditional communication. And they're in a unique position to be as slow to adopt as they like, because they're really their own self-policing organization. But when a top-tier school like Harvard throws down the gauntlet, and they have, it means everyone else will soon fall into line.

What I learned today, which had left me very confused about how all this works, is how the financial picture works. And the reality is, there's a lot less money changing hands in all this journal printing than I'd assumed, so the opportunities for going digital are a lot better than I'd hoped. Which also raises some questions about a possible adoption of an open conference and open manuscript system.

So, anyway, that's what I'm doing for a living these days. Beats digging ditches.


Steanso said...

Are there lots of sexy librarians at your conference?

The League said...

If you are into men in their fifties with beards, this symposium is your place!