Thursday, November 09, 2006

Invisible Universities: Is There Room for Elitism Among Scholars?

Dr. Reid Cornwell has posted another gem for thought.

After reading it, I wondered: If, as I've seen elsewhere, online spaces (such as Wikipedia) have a de-professionalizing effect, is there room for elitism online?

In writing about scholarly networks in Netspace, Barry Wellman, Emanuel Koku, and Jeremy Hunsinger have described such groups as Invisible Universities. We accept their opinion as both personal and professional.

Invisible colleges provide forums for sharing, disseminating, and testing new ideas, as well as for exchanging information about teaching, research, funding opportunities, academic bureaucracies, and personal situations. They promote scholarly identity and purpose and stimulate discussion of theory, methods, and findings. Ideas get transmitted more quickly and innovatively than in formal journals constrained by publication lags and orthodoxy promoting refereeing, though this too is changing in the online era. Typically, they contain:

* a core group of elite scholars
* a high degree of communication through formal (conferences, papers) and informal channels among members
* frequent communication between prominent core scholars and subsets of less prominent, non-core scholars
* interactions among core members and their adherents hold the invisible college together
* contacts between members of invisible colleges and outsiders enable mutual exchange of information

You can read his full post here.

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