Friday, 23 November 2007

The digital republic of letters

Blogging for the first time, I feel impelled to reflect on what blogging is doing to the world of learning - and plenty of academics are blogging now. It creates a worldwide agora, in which we can all flit from one corner to another to join in whichever conversations take our fancy. The new agora is not a democracy in one sense. There are too many voices for all to get a hearing. But it is an (imperfect) democracy in another sense. At least some of the voices most worth listening to can be identified from blog statistics, although some of the less worthy voices attract large followings too.

What this exhilerating babble does not yet give us is a reliable mechanism for building up a canon of learning. Voices come and go, in stark contrast to libraries building up collections of respected and reliable books and journals. But we do not have to abandon that mechanism, and in any case it is not completely reliable - some bad work gets published and some good work does not.

We are trying out Socrates' lifestyle, conversing with everyone and not caring whether our words are preserved for posterity. When thinkers spend more time blogging than writing more traditional publications, the blog will really have arrived and philosophy will have gone back to its roots.

1 comment:

  1. And a good thing about it is that the word is there, even three years after having been expressed, for the whole world to read and reflect upon, if they want to.
    The word of Socrates survived only in the memory of immediate listeners, one of them being Plato, who kindly preserved them for posterity.