Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Venn Diagrams, digital scholarship

Since I read it, I have admired Robin Goodfellow's (2013) chapter, The literacies of ’digital scholarship’—Truth and use values.' For me it contains a two things of note. One, a succinct definition of scholarly values worth serious reflection in these neoliberal days (see Appendix below). Two, a critique of 'the digital' which contrasts two books, one by Christine Borgman and another by Martin Weller: 'Borgman is trying to make digital scholarship more scholarly, Weller is trying to make it more digital.' (ibid. p75)
In my experience and, not least because of my incredible life privileges, I find it is relatively easy to 'do digital', and I have a disposition so to do. I find that others do not have this disposition, but still 'get the job done'. Through earnest scholarship, they develop their own practices which may be more or less digital, even if vicariously digital (e.g. getting someone else to type things up), but they cannot avoid having to use a computer occasionally.
Recently, I have been teaching the concepts of searching for literature using Boolean operators and I love a Venn diagram to make the point. I think they also help to make a point about 'the digital' and what different people take up in the context of academic work.
In the first diagram, we have Scholarly OR Digital practices. In some ways, this reflects the reality that we all swim around in bits of both.

There are still people, you might know some, you know, the kind that own 'brick' phones, if they have a mobile at all. These are the 'NOT' people. If they 'do' social media, they do it because someone else is handling it for them. Perhaps they are self-confessed draconian Luddites but their scholarship and contribution would be generally deemed successful.

Then there are the 'AND' people, who scarcely do anything without it in some way 'being digital'. Are they any more successful at scholarship for this than the NOT's? What mattered? 

[Apology - this is an 'early version' of the AND diagram - it should be shaded in the middle/overlap but that's a bit tricky in google drawings so I will/may attend to that at another time.]

Appendix: Robin Goodfellow defines the scholarship orientation
This orientation [scholarship] values critical reflection, the cumulative aggregation of knowledge and understanding, distinct modes of operation relating to evidence and the war- ranting of its reliability, and the ethic of enquiry as a primary motivation (Andresen 2000; Cowan et al. 2008; Courant 2008). The combination of these characteristics is what distinguishes the construction of academic scholarly knowledge from other kinds of knowledge production (factual knowledge, practical knowledge, common-sense, morality, the wisdom of crowds, etc.). The existence of communities dedicated to these values in a general sense also distinguishes the sites of production of academic scholarly knowledge (universities, research institutes, museums) from most other arenas of social knowledge practice. (Goodfellow 2013 , p. 69)

Goodfellow, R. (2013). The literacies of ’digital scholarship’—Truth and use values. In R. Goodfellow & M. R. Lea (Eds.), Literacy in the Digital University: Critical Perspectives on learning, scholarship, and technology (pp. 67–78).

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