August 8, 2013

“The fact remains that hardly anybody ever reads Melville, whereas nearly everyone has read Twain”

Filed under: Academia, On blogging — acagle @ 3:35 pm

What’s a Blog Post Worth?

But let’s pause for a moment to consider a rhetorical question: Which ultimately does more good—an article or monograph that is read by 20 or 30 people in a very narrow field, or a blog post on a topic of interest to many (such as grading standards or tenure requirements) that is read by 200,000? What if the post spurs hundreds of comments, is debated publicly in faculty lounges and classrooms, and gets picked up by newspapers and Web sites across the country—in other words, it helps to shape the national debate over some hot-button issue? What is it worth then?

My argument is not that learned monographs have no value (of course they do, whether widely read or not), or that blog posts are somehow superior as “scholarship” (of course they’re not), but simply that we might be selling online publications short if we assume they’re worthless purely because they’re online.

Althouse links to this article. It’s kind of interesting, but I also thought the answer (stated in the second quoted paragraph) was rather obvious and has been for some time. Do many/most academics not know this?

BTW, I am still wading through Moby Dick. Parts of it are brilliant and an absolute joy to read, but it’s so filled with uninteresting junk that it takes me a while to force my way through the stupid parts. I think a decent editor could make it worth reading by far more people.

And I’ve only read a few bits of Twain (mostly Roughing It).

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