I struggle a bit with Andrew Sullivan, his obtuse initial support of Gulf War II, his insistence that much of the right-wing shenanigans is well-intentioned, and his blind faith in capitalism as the end game of economic systems all wearing. I guess that’s why I struggle with my own reaction to his treatise on the value of blogging, even as he himself has recreated his own blog to be far more than his personal rants at the world. I swear, though, that I’m trying.
And I’m trying, mostly, because his blog (in its new form) is a way to re-envision not only writing but hopefully information gathering and news reporting as a career. He and four employees split off from The Atlantic and look to have created a successful collaborative effort that replies on small charges from lots and lots of subscribers. I have no idea if he is truly making money, but he’s still publishing.
Sites like his, and Daily Kos and Real Climate and Grantland and Brain Pickings and Kottke and the New Inquiry and The Awl and Gawker and, well, you get it, are ways that I envision higher education working in the future. MOOCs are a lurching, incredibly simplistic way to start, but the trick is to get out of the loop of revenue that doesn’t really involve any (except from friends and family) and into an area where real ideas are generated (i.e., those that produce products that we want and need). In a sense, I envision universities as a partner in a project management cycle, and while perhaps that vision is a too old-fashioned vision of production (although even the agile folks still use it) I see us as being available in several places to serve a vital function.
This sort of transformation will take some re-thinking, of course. It will take serious re-envisioning, in particular, of the humanities, and we will have to count on our loves of language and historical analysis and archiving and the creativity found in the visual and performing arts as ways to get us in this door. It’s also pretty utopic, as we move into a platform that redefines students and faculty (and staff and administration).
I’ll attempt to work all this out in more detail as I go, and I’ll also try to make it more than just pies in the sky and castles in the air. I’ll also have to deal with articles like this one, which characterize many of the people I work with…