A Warning to Slacker Lecturers Everywhere!
links for 2007-05-25

Marginal Notes Triggered by the U.C. Davis Seminar on Historical Scholarship and New Media

The U.C. Davis history department says that it is going to turn our panel from yesterday into a podcast. The URL is going to be somewhere...

Sitting there, I began thinking about the uses and abuses of pseudonymity. It allows you to:

  • Pollute the stream of discourse by plopping an idea into it that you would rightfully be ashamed to say in your own voice.
  • Clarify the stream of discourse by getting an idea into it that would normally be suppressed because of the social sanctions that would be applied to you if you said it in your own voice.
  • Allow you to speak not as your idiosyncratic self but as the reprsentative of some larger class or interest: "A Lady of Quality"; "A Concerned Citizen of California."
  • To distance yourself from what you are saying: to put forward a point of view that you believe ought to be considered in the discourse but that you do not want to completely support.
  • To provide others with a little breathing space by allowing them to pretend that it was not you who said it.

It made me wonder about the Federalist: why do Madison and Hamilton (and Jay) think that their prose will have more weight as the considered opinion of a thoughtful public citizen than as the view of one of Virginia's and one of New York's leading politicians?

Other notes:

  • Some history graduate students seem unduly alarmed--that people will steal their ideas, that people will hold what they write online against them, and more generally that participating in freewheeling intellectual exchanges in a forum in which nobody knows that you are a dog (or a graduate student) will cause them to be classified as insufficiently deferential to established hierarchies, inclined to rock the boat, and hence not worth hiring.
  • Or are they unduly alarmed? Jobs are scarce and criteria of excellence are in dispute, so one black mark assessed by one member of a hiring committee may be deadly.
  • Ari Kelman claimed that the misspellings in his comments were an hommage to Matthew Yglesias.
  • People assure me that I should not be scared of meeting Ogged in person. Online he may be pure unshackled id, but in person he is polite and charming--a veritable baa lamb.
  • Given all the other things that were on Scott Eric Kaufman's calendar for yesterday, we are very grateful that he showed up at our panel.
  • Scott Eric Kaufman has had great success in thirty-person classes by using class weblogs as warmup exercises for the seminars.
  • A cryptic note: "Josh Micah Marshall--blogging too much like a late 20th C. cable channel?" I presume this means that somebody (Ari Kelman?) said that Josh Micah Marshall wishes for a medium in which he could be more thoughtful and yet keep his audience. But it may not. My problem is that when the adrenaline is flowing long-term memory formation stops...
  • "I don't remember whether this quote is from a post or a paper." "Given the language and the sentence structure, it's definitely from a paper."
  • Tedra Osell: Habermasian enabling fictions as noble lies...
  • Scott Eric Kaufman: graduate student research life as very poor preparation for scholarly discourse; weblogging as far superior in a number of ways.
  • Memo to self: have to figure out how to tag ideas with "Scott Eric Kaufman" or "Adam Kotsko"; current mental tagging system of "something said online by a really smart and thoughtful humanities graduate student" not sufficient.
  • Impact of The Valve
  • Tedra Osell: Everything pisses me off, but I am very optimistic...
  • Ari Kelman: "I suppose it is fitting for this venue that I announce that I have no qualifications to be a discussant save a willingness to open my mouth..."

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