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Doing science in public

While faffing around today in between productive bouts of working on the leafcutter manuscript (!), I came across a link to this article by Kieran Healey on social media and sociology. The excerpt posted on the Dynamic Ecology blog has convinced me to read and consider it further, and actually, it's relevant to the leafcutter manuscript in addition to being relevant to the act of blogging. Here's are some of those tantalizing excerpts:

"Here is also a natural connection here to the world of scholarly research. Although by now thoroughly professionalized, academic life has deep roots in the desire to talk about scholarly preoccupations in public, and in one’s spare time. It is in this sense an aspect of civil society. On a personal level, having the desire to go and tell people about your work is a good a sign that you are substantively absorbed by what you are doing. The point generalizes to disciplines. To the degree that thinking, talking, and arguing about research in one’s spare time and in public is a feature your field, it is a sign that your discipline is confident about what it does. Modern social media brings together these shared features of civil society and academic discourse in a new way. Social media platforms facilitate and accelerate the possibilities for talking about one’s
work in public, assuming we want to take advantage of it."

"In “Science as a Vocation”, Weber remarks that although we do not get our best
ideas while sitting at our desks all day doing regular work, we wouldn’t get any good ideas unless we sat at our desks all day doing regular work. In a similar way, successfully engaging with the public means doing it somewhat unsuccessfully very regularly. This fact is closely connected to the value of doing your everyday work somewhat publicly. You cannot drop a lump of text onto the Internet and expect anyone to pay attention if you have not been engaging with them in some ongoing way. You cannot put your work up on your website, or “do a blog”, or manufacture interest in your research like that. There is a demand side as well as a supply side to “content”, and most of the time the demand side does not care about what you have to say. This is why, in my view, one’s public work ought to be be continuous with the intellectual work you are intrinsically motivated to do. It is a mistake to think that there is a research phase and a publicity phase. Your employer might see it that way, but from a first-personal point of view it
is much better—both intrinsically and in terms of any public engagement you might
want—to think of yourself as routinely doing your work “slightly in public”. You write about it as you go, you are in regular conversation with other like-minded researchers or interested parties, and some of those people may have or be connected to larger audiences with a periodic interest in what you are up to."

...and so on.


( 1 remark — Remark )
May. 20th, 2016 09:51 pm (UTC)
Another good tidbit..
"As I have argued, an alternative way of seeing things recognizes that there is no real “impact” without good prior work. Simultaneously, we should take the opportunity to carry on at least some of the everyday business doing real research in a newly semipublic field. Over the long term this is also the main foundation on which reasonable norms of public engagement must be built. A key source of resistance to this idea is sociologists themselves (or academics more generally). This may be because while civil society is what you do publicly and in your spare time, serious academics are not supposed to have any free time, and they certainly are not supposed to acknowledge it publicly. Instead, their waking hours are meant to be spent as serious people devoted to the research effort, and everyone knows that this is incompatible with being seen in public."
( 1 remark — Remark )

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