Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reflections on "interdisciplinary" and blogs

I've been reluctant to post again because I'm having a hard time focusing on the subject: Technology and Change in Education! I have so many CHANGES going on in my life: marriage, new household, aging parent depending on me, new project ideas swimming around inside my head, in-law issues, cleaning up old stuff, renewing neglected relationships, planning for an uncertain future, etc. etc. But now, to the subject at hand.

Quoting Chapter 6 in Weller 
"we can see interdisciplinary knowledge arising in at least four ways in blogs:
  1. as the formal communication platform of a department, project or individual with a specific interdisciplinary remit;
  2. through the historical context of the individual, who may have specialised in a different domain previously and can reference this in a personal blog;
  3. informal interests which overlap with the more substantive content of the blog, such as the examples above; and
  4. through comments and links from the blogs’ wider readership.
Each of these routes for interdisciplinarity would be difficult to realise through the more formal mechanisms of journals or conferences.
What is potentially significant for interdisciplinarity then is not so much the technology itself but the practices that are associated with it. This is particularly relevant with regard to openness."

My interpretation--it's okay to mix up some of these things in one place (this blog) because interdisciplinarity work becomes most valuable as different perspectives or ways of approaching the problem are revealed.

I see a stark contrast between how different researchers approach the traditional mechanism of scholarship through "published works." With the internet, anyone can be published by just "posting information on a website." I manage long list of "scholarly works" in which a paper from one particular researcher may be first listed as a technical report, then submitted,  "in press",  "published" as a conference proceeding, then listed as a "published"  presentation at the very same conference, and often times, "published" at a later date through a journal article that is actually a printed or online "collection" of the best of the previous conference proceedings! So the same basic research is repackaged many times to earn more "ink" in the listing of scholarship/publishing. Is this work more important or valuable than that of another researcher who takes a more conservative approach to "publishing" and only lists papers that have actually appeared in peer-reviewed journals? While these examples are two ends of the spectrum, the immediacy of digital delivery of content can be used to skew the perceived value of the information: Quantity over quality.

Interdisciplinary is the new "hot button" for funding. Research teams must be "interdisciplinary" in order to attract funding from large organizations. Perhaps the dialog among very different researchers required to create successful "interdisciplinary teams" to pursue the funding is actually where the "value" begins. Once a team of researchers engage in dialog to pursue "interdisciplinary teams" they have overcome some of the most difficult steps to successful research--approaching a problem from several different perspectives. If so, then the impact of interdisciplinary research funding goes far beyond the actual "winning interdisciplinary teams" because even the teams that were not funded had to engage in the valuable dialogue of looking at the problem from different perspectives.

No comments:

Post a Comment