[Humanist] 22.490 even more on academia.edu

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Jan 30 07:51:00 CET 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 490.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz at oucs.ox.ac.uk>            (6)
        Subject: academia.edu

  [2]   From:    Ian Johnson <johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au>               (110)
        Subject: [Humanist] 22.487 www.academia.edu?

        Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 09:25:28 +0000
        From: Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz at oucs.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: academia.edu

may amuse

Sebastian Rahtz      
Information Manager, Oxford University Computing Services
13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN. Phone +44 1865 283431

        Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 18:47:04 +1100 (EST)
        From: Ian Johnson <johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au>
        Subject: [Humanist] 22.487 www.academia.edu?
        In-Reply-To: <20090128083346.02C992C271 at woodward.joyent.us>

It seems to me that people are getting their knickers in a twist the way
they did with Wikipedia a few years back (and hiding beind Willard's coat
tails). Treat it the same way, use it to get information, then check your
facts if you depend on them. All those who don't use Wikpiedia, not ever,
hold up your hands. silence ...

Sure academia.edu isn't perfect, but it's a big leap to go from there to
condeming it as 'a rogue thing', just because it isn't embedded in a
University.  Maybe there is some scuttlebut: why is Sebastian calling a
local initiative a rogue rather than nurturing it? Is the originator
someone no-one can stand, or are there turf wars at issue? These are
things we are scarcely likely to find out on an open list.

>From an external perspective, as long as it's offering a useful free
service for academia and maintains acceptable standards I see little
problem with it being .edu and gaining some amount of acceptance within
the target community through that designation. It doens't seem to be a
Nigerian scam. If it later turns commercial, then it had better get off,
but I don't really see that model working.

Perhaps they are harvesting and sellign the information, but I for one use
Google Docs and GMail and I know THEY do it, and in this case the
contributors are making the info they put in public in any case. Besides,
the whole idea of 'free and respectable' ignores the fact that all the
'free' academic systems are being paid for by taxes, student fees, unpaid
work, exploitation of non-renewable resources and centuries of colonial

Certainly it needs wiki-like rollback of incorrect info and an easy way of
reporting abuse (a one-click 'spam' type of mechanism in addition to a
feedback field). You can in fact delete bogus universities/departments if
they are empty (soory Bogus State University, I was your nemesis), you
can't edit universities or departments if you're not associated.

You can presumably associate a bogus identity with a department to get
your hands on the controls. Worryingly, I can change the name of my
University, but what is the alternative: contact every universtiy on the
planet and try to get them to designate a contact person, and keep the
contact up-to-date?

No, of course not. This is the brave new world of user-based content
production. Once we all have single-sign on identities it will be possible
to do a much better job, but for now this is the mechanism which works.

New paradigms are often uncomfortable until one adapts and rather creaky
until the mecahnisms mature, but instead of fighting what seems like a
pretty good initiative, let's email the developer ideas for better control
mechanisms and see if the gaps get plugged.


On Wed, 28 Jan 2009, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 08:33:46 +0000 (GMT)
> From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> Reply-To: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> To: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> >
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 487.
>          Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>         Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 08:29:34 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: www.academia.edu?
> The service recently announced on Humanist, http://www.academia.edu/,
> has struck one member of this group as rather odd. He does not want to
> have his remarks attributed, so I report them here and add some of my
> own. He has found people assigned to universities that have no record of
> them. Indeed, the service seems cheerily to allow anyone to give
> themselves or anyone else whatever job in whatever department (never was
> an academic appointment easier to obtain), to delete others who have
> signed up (or easier to lose), even to create new universities (for the
> ambitious). See, for example, Bogus State or the Western Academy of
> Anomalous Results. Has anyone here had experience of www.academia.edu?
> Opinions?
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
> King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
> Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.
> _______________________________________________
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Ian Johnson

[johnson at acl.arts.usyd.edu.au]
Director, Archaeological Computing Laboratory
Deputy Director, Digital Innovation Unit
Senior Research Fellow, Archaeology


  Archaeological Computing Laboratory

  Digital Innovation Unit in the Humanities and Social Sciences

  Room 310 - 314, F09 Madsen Building, University of Sydney, NSW 2006
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