Aggregation and academic blogroll

by Henry Farrell on July 12, 2006

“Scott McLemee”: makes a modest proposal.

bq. With such difficulties in mind, then, I want to propose a kind of public-works project. The time has come to create a map. In fact, it is hard to imagine things can continue much longer without one. At very least, we need a Web site giving users some idea what landmarks already exist in the digital space of academe. … AggAcad 1.0 would resemble the phonebook for a very small town — with one column of business numbers and another of personal. It would provide a rather bare-bones set of links, in two broad categories. There would be an online directory of academic publishers, similar to the one now provided by the Association of American University Presses. But it would also have links to the Web sites of other scholarly imprints, whether from commercial publishers or professional organizations. The other component of the start-up site would be an academic blogroll – perhaps an updated version of the one now available at Crooked Timber, divided broadly by disciplines. …

bq. AggAcad 2.0 would provide not just directories but content from and about scholarly publishing. As academic presses make more material available online — sample chapters, interviews with authors, etc. — the site would point readers to it. (This aspect of the site might be run by RSS or similar feeds.) Likewise, visitors to the site would learn of the more substantial reviews in online publications, including symposia on new books held by academic bloggers.

bq. AggAcad 3.0 would incorporate elements of Digg — the Web site that allows readers in the site’s community to recommend links and vote on how interesting or useful they prove. … By this stage, AggAcad would provide something like a hub to the far-flung academic blogosphere (or whatever we are calling it within a few years). Individuals would still be able to generate and publish content as they see fit. The advantages of decentralization would continue. But the site might foster more connections than now seem possible. Information about new scholarly books could circulate in new ways. It would begin to have some influence on how the media covered academic issues. And — who knows? — the quality of public discussion might even rise a little bit.

This all seems to me to be great. First, it would create some sort of credentialling process, which might make it easier, say, to get tenure committees to take blogging seriously as a form of disciplinary or public service (and some of the more thoughtful blog symposia etc as a form of publishing). Secondly, on a more personal level, it would allow me to get out from under the academic blogroll. As a new-ish father, I’m finding it more nearly impossible than ever to keep up with the expansion of the academic blogosphere, and have gotten woefully bad at updating it (I will be updating it with various requests next week, _promise_). It’s just too big for one person to keep track of any more. As a first step towards Scott’s proposal, I may change the blogroll to a wiki format, and ask a few people to act as discipline specific editors (or alternatively just throw it out to the public as an open resource). Or, if anyone has any technically elegant alternative suggestions, feel free to throw them out in comments.

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Epiphatic Exhaustion » Academic Blogging: Making Moves Toward Legitimacy
07.12.06 at 12:24 pm



sunship 07.12.06 at 3:36 pm

There are already several edited web directories. You could use those for instead of reinventing the wheel with a wiki.

AggAcad sounds useful because it seems to combine the existing techs of web directories and rss type feeds.


ben alpers 07.12.06 at 7:24 pm

A fine idea but it desperately needs a more attractive name.


Ken 07.13.06 at 8:19 am

Interesting proposals. I think it would also be helpful to begin crossing back to the other side of the looking glass – too few academics (even the young ones) are even aware that online academic publishing exists. It seems there’s a need (if not demand) for workshops or panels at the major conferences of virtually every discipline in the academy.


Laura 07.13.06 at 9:34 am

Did you think that we could get a grant for this? Maybe from an education foundation, like Spencer. Maybe Harry has some connections there. If someone can get the dough, then all that boring inputting stuff could be delegated to a hungry grad student. I think that the Chronicle of Higher Ed also started putting together a list.


LowLife 07.13.06 at 10:28 am

Hopefully, this site will include pictures of professors in revealing clothes (or none at all) and drinking with underaged students. Afterall, we want it to generate some traffic, don’t we?


todd. 07.13.06 at 11:51 am

then all that boring inputting stuff could be delegated to a hungry grad student

It would probably be easier to find a hungry grad student with a blog who wants to be linked to from a bunch of appreciative academic bloggers.


Richard 07.13.06 at 11:56 am

“There are already several edited web directories.”

…could anyone help out a hopeless noob like myself and say where they are?

If they’re discipline-specific, then I’d find ones relating to history and sociology most useful.



Ralph Luker 07.13.06 at 1:40 pm

For history, I modestly recommend Cliopatria’s History Blogroll, where we list about 400 history blogs, including primary source and non-English language blogs.


Gustav 07.13.06 at 2:43 pm

People in the life sciences do something interesting over at postgenomic: aggregating life science blogs, collecting information of what papers are discussed, conferences held and upcoming automatic generation of buzzwords, keywords and “hot papers”, &c. RSS all over the place.

It is new and at an experimental stage, but might postgenomic be a way to use the web for something useful, as a kind of extended peer review; an extra layer in the life of scientific communication, besides the time-honored activities such as papers, conferences, seminars?

Is something similar for the social sciences/humanities (about as broad a definition as the life sciences, I guess) possible?


Long Sunday 07.14.06 at 10:32 am


Richard 07.14.06 at 11:46 am

re: 9> many thanks, Ralph. Now I’m embarrassed for not having read the whole page here: I guess when I get the time I’ll trawl through all of “the lumber room” and CT’s list of academic bloggers…


Delaney J. Kirk 07.14.06 at 8:57 pm

I’m trying to find others that are blogging about classroom management and tips for teaching, regardless of discipline…

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