Two Cultures

Scientists, as a whole, are very reluctant to write novel ideas, hypotheses or data on blogs, and are very slow to test the waters of Open, Source Publishing. Most of what one finds on science blogs is commentary on other peoples’ ideas, hypotheses and data found in journals and mass media.
On the other hand, people in the humanities/literature/art/liberal arts side of campus have long ago embraced blogging as a tool to get their rough drafts out, to refine them upon receiving feedback from commenters, and subsequently publish them in peer-reviewed journals. If you follow History Carnival, Carnivalesque or Philosopher’s Carnival, for example, you have seen many posts that are full-fledged (and full-length) scholarly articles, on their way to “real” publication.
Thus, I found it surprising that it appears the humanities side of the blogosphere is much more reluctant to experiment with some kind of peer-reviewed online publishing model, while the science side appears to be much more enthusiastic about the idea.
This is surprising as there has been gradual evolution – on both science and humanities side of the blogosphere – of the way blog carnivals are done. Besides a few general-interest or geographically limited carnivals, more and more of them are specializing in narrower topics and, thus, require a degree of expertise in the topic in order to participate. I guess that hosts of history and philosophy carnivals received – and promptly rejected – bad posts. I know I did it quite a few times when hosting various science-related carnivals. In several cases, not being really sure and not having relevant expertise on a particular topic mysef, I sent the link to another blogger (and sometimes two or three) for advice about admission into the carnival. That is, for all purposes, peer-review.
Having a peer-reviewed online blog/journal is just the next logical step (unless you have ambitions to start another thing like PLoS).
Putting such a collection together and then turning it into a hardcopy book is something that the science side of the blogosphere did a few months ago, when we put together, as a pretty collective effort, the Science Blogging Anthology. If you recall, the submissions were peer-reviewed. And the next years’ edition, besides having two editors instead of one, will also be peer-reviewed in some fashion (so please send in your entries so we have something to review).
I would love to see this become a more usual kind of thing to do. I’d love to see publication of blogging anthologies collecting the best annual output by medical, environmental, education and humanities bloggers. Will someone do it?
And, of course, making such efforts online, without of the added work of turning it into print, should be even easier, dontcha think?

One response to “Two Cultures

  1. My comment was growing a bit too long so I posted it on the blog instead.