Friday, December 29, 2006
Form Follows the Function of the Little Magazine, v. 2.0
Damn, this place is quiet. I would be a bit embarrassed if the Valve died of neglect at the very moment I am talking it up at the MLA. Wouldn’t I look like a fool?
Here’s a draft version of my talk for tomorrow morning (PDF). It’s a rewrite and update of my very first Valve post. I’ve got it down to a svelte 3400 words, which is still probably about 10% too fat for my 15 minute slot. Oh, well. (Which 10% should go?)
UPDATE: I’m told the blogging panel has been relocated. We’ve still got the same crappy 8:30 slot, of course. But now in Salon L, on the fifth floor of the Marriott. So forget that other location, wherever it was.
I once thought that someone should publish an academic almanac for blog-readers not themselves in academia. “End of semester grading, expect low posting volume” or “Procrastination before midterms, comment box flurries predicted”, something like that. In this case the tumbleweeds are tumbling through because almost everyone’s at the MLA conference, clearly.
“If I write a scholarly book about
literary criticism, how can I get anyone to read it?
Now, this is NOT a problem for blogs. In my own case: Crooked Timber—8,000 visits a day; and The Valve—5,000.”
How many of those visitors actually read something substantive, though? It should be possible to get some idea of how many hits on long PDF documents there are, or something, vs. how many on 3-paragraph-long blog posts.
I would guess, based on seeing the same commenters everywhere, that the same 100-200 people read everything. That’s pretty good, if you have a scholarly article that would normally be actually read by 200 people at most (I don’t know what their circulation really is). But unless there are a lot of lurkers who actually read articles but never comment on them (and why would they? I’ve never understood that kind of lurking), thousands of additional readers seems like overpromising.
So you’re going to say all that in 15 minutes? Good luck. I’d cut about half of the Trilling quote and its associated paragraphs.
I’m pretty much in agreement with what you’re saying here.
- Yes, academic publishing is turning into a kind of vanity publishing.
- I’m in favour of an author’s new work being publicly discussed, and the result of the discussion being preserved for posterity (possibly edited, to pick out the important points). Some experimentation with the format might be needed, but Valve/VT book events are a good attempt.
. . . if you have a scholarly article that would normally be actually read by 200 people at most (I don’t know what their circulation really is . . .
Sometime ago I read a study of readership of academic journals that concluded that most articles are read by less than 10 people. I don’t recall what disciplines were involved etc. Most journals circulate to libraries. I’d guess that these days the cool kids read journals online or get pdfs from authors.
You could get Adam R. to do a post about the new review of Dawkins in NYRB.