One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy

May 21st, 2010 |

Tom Scheinfeldt and I have been brewing a proposal for an edited book entitled Hacking the Academy. Let’s write it together, starting at THATCamp. And let’s do it in one week.

Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly society?

As recently as the mid-2000s, questions like these would have been unthinkable. But today serious scholars are asking whether the institutions of the academy as they have existed for decades, even centuries, aren’t becoming obsolete. Every aspect of scholarly infrastructure is being questioned, and even more importantly, being <em>hacked</em>. Sympathetic scholars of traditionally disparate disciplines are cancelling their association memberships and building their own networks on Facebook and Twitter. Journals are being compiled automatically from self-published blog posts. Newly-minted Ph.D.’s are foregoing the tenure track for alternative academic careers that blur the lines between research, teaching, and service. Graduate students are looking beyond the categories of the traditional C.V. and building expansive professional identities and popular followings through social media. Educational technologists are “punking” established technology vendors by rolling their own open source infrastructure.

“Hacking the Academy” will both explore and contribute to ongoing efforts to rebuild scholarly infrastructure for a new millenium. Contributors can write on these topics, which will form chapters:

  • Lectures and classrooms
  • Scholarly societies
  • Conferences and meetings
  • Journals
  • Books and monographs
  • Tenure and academic employment
  • Scholarly Identity and the CV
  • Departments and disciplines
  • Educational technology
  • Libraries

In keeping with the spirit of hacking, the book will itself be an exercise in reimagining the edited volume. Any blog post, video response, or other media created for the volume and tweeted (or tagged) with the hashtag #hackacad will be aggregated at (submissions should use a secondary tag — #class #society #conf #journal #book #tenure #cv #dept #edtech #library — to designate chapters). The best pieces will go into the published volume (we are currently in talks with a publisher to do an open access version of this final volume). The volume will also include responses such as blog comments and tweets to individual pieces. If you’ve already written something that you would like included, that’s fine too, just be sure to tweet or tag it (or email us the link to where it’s posted).

You have until midnight on May 28, 2010. Ready, set, go!

UPDATE: [5/23/10] 48 hours in, we have 65 contributions to the book. There’s a running list of contributions.

Comments Feed

14 Responses to “One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy”

  1. THATCamp 2010 » Blog Archive Says:

    […] in culture will influence academic practices within and outside the classroom: projects like Hacking the Academy and open journals are at the forefront of restructuring academic publishing, but they face a number […]

  2. Sharon M. Leon Says:

    Interestingly, no category for public engagement…. Can I make a motion? #public

  3. briancroxall Says:


  4. Lynne Goldstein Says:

    I will second the motion for a category on public engagement. It seems to me that what you’re doing isn’t quite complete or valid without it. #public

  5. jane fleming Says:

    Include H-Net newsletters and reviews/

  6. David Rieder Says:

    Attention, or the Exigence of Excess

    >> One potential solution on the demand side might come not from the scarcity of production, as it did in a print world, but from the scarcity of attention. @dancohen <<

    The information economy has upended the scarcity model on which traditional scholarship has been based. Traditionally, the lone scholar must add to a scholarly universe that is incomplete. The corpus of ideas with which a traditional scholar is identified is finite. S/he is expected to have read it all, to known it all. New ideas and perspectives are hard to find. It takes genious to create or envision them. Someone with singular vision is needed to help bridge the gap between the known and the unknown, the near past and the distant future. What the scholar is a creater, a producer—someone who shine some light ahead of us.

    The information age has turned that traditional relationship on its head. Digital scholars today do not face a future in which the existence of great ideas and novel perpectives are scarce. In an information age, there is an excess of great ideas and novel perspectives. Like a 24-hour gas station on the highway, the road ahead is well lit. The gap between the past and the future has been reduced to little more than a speed bump. From the standpoint of the web, the scholar is surrounded by so much information that s/he lives in an eternal present. S/he can’t possibly know everything about her field, and there are so many great ideas and novel perspectives from which to choose that s/he is confronted with a new scholarly exigence: how to deal with an excess of knowledge.

    Dan alludes to the scarcity of attention. In his book titled The Economy of Attention, Richard Lanham argues that an excess of information demands a new way of generating value. Since information is plentiful, the new role of the scholar is to help us focus, to create attention structures. Lanham doesn't offer the following examples, but the wide range of works developed by DHers can be valued as scholarship for an information age. The growing number of ways in which to filter, connect, and visualize information are attention structures. They are forms of scholarship tailor-made for an age of informational excess. Like silhouettes on a bright, white screen, they are a model of production that turns the traditional model of scarcity on its head.

  7. Jackie Gerstein Says:

    I am making a motion for a category on grading and assessment #assess ?

  8. David Rieder Says:

    Rewrite of the final par:

    Dan alludes to the scarcity of attention. In his book titled _The Economy of Attention_, Richard Lanham argues that an excess of information demands a new way of generating value. Since information is plentiful, the new role of the scholar is to help us focus, to create attention-getting structures. Lanham doesn’t offer the following examples, but the wide range of works developed by DHers can be valued as scholarship for an age in which information is plenty. Like silhouettes on a bright, white screen, an attention structure limits the flow in order to create value. Whereas the traditional scholar is confronted with a dark screen that needs to be enlightened, the DH scholar is confronted with a white screen on which she needs to introduce some contrast.

  9. Trevor Owens Says:

    I am submitting this annotation of this Wikipedia page, as well as the Wikipedia page itself, to the volume for the section on educational technology.

    The Wikipedia page about Ivan Illich’s 1971 book Deschooling Society illustrates a vision for the future of educational technology. Illich rejected the institutional nature of schooling, and hoped for destructured, de-instutionalized future for education. The article not only explains Illich’s vision for a new educational system and it’s presence as an entry on the Wikipedia demonstrates the way his idea of decentralized, interest driven, “learning webs” are now a core part of internet culture. This presentation of his argument is itself a representation of how his vision has become a central feature of internet culture. Informal online learning communities like Flickr groups, fan fic sites, game forums, and DIY and crafting sites, offer further evidence of how unstructured, self directed “learning webs” are now some of the most important sites of learning in 21st century society.

  10. Larry Cebula Says:

    I am not a camper this year but would like to submit my recent blog post, “How to Read a Book in One Hour” to the volume. I would be glad to expand it somewhat:

  11. Hello Worlds « Matthew G. Kirschenbaum Says:

    […] paywall. Now seems like a good time to make it available again as a contribution to the Hacking the Academy volume and collection Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt announced this past weekend at THATcamp. I […]

  12. Hello Worlds « Matthew G. Kirschenbaum Says:

    […] paywall since. Now seems like a good time to make it available again as a contribution to the Hacking the Academy volume and collection Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt announced this past weekend at THATcamp. I […]

  13. bowerbird Says:

    the distressed typewriter look
    is already overplayed. you can
    use it this one more time, but
    then please retire it. thanks.


  14. Hacking the Academy – od Twittera do książki « Historia i Media Says:

    […] Hacking The Academy, zainicjowanym przez Toma Scheinfeldta i Dana Cohena z CHNM w ramach kolejnego THATCampu. Inicjatywa miała dość prosty schemat, ale raczej radykalny charakter: w ciągu jednego tygodnia […]


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