Presentation for the Digital Sociology Mini-Conference of the Eastern Sociological Society 2016 about MediaCamp, social media skills building workshops for academics conducted in 2014 by the Just Publics @ 365 project at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
Goal of JP@365 is to reimagining scholarly communication for the public good. Funded by the Ford Foundation; conceived and driven by my colleague Jessie Daniels – with initial administrative assistance from Prof. Matt Gold and Provost Chase Robinson. I was invited on to the project in year 2, when Matt and Chase stepped off to other projects. And – don’t think administrative engagement ended there – there was a team of people involved and engaged, faculty, students, librarians; some were compensated; others folded it into their academic work. JP@365 engaged a lot of very fine, smart, and generous people.
Also informed by scholars in several fields writing about the digital turn; chief among them Deborah Lupton’s work Digital Sociology who shared ideas that shaped and reflected the JustPublics@365 project.
About the name: 365 = days of year, also address of the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue. CUNY is the largest public urban institution of higher education - the City University of New York comprises 24 campuses, and the Graduate Center is the doctoral degree-granting hub of the university. Grad Center is very program-oriented (no sports, but lots of public lectures). Our tag line: “The life of the mind in the heart of the city.”
Lots of components …. Summits – Reimagning Scholarly Communication (hackathon, theorizing the web, youtube + poverty representations, panel on altmetrics) + Resisting Criminalization Through Academic Media Activist Partnerships; Leading the Way: Toward a public Health & Safety Approach to Drug Policy in New York Knowledge Streams: many formats of output on altmetrics, open access, drug policy reform Social Justice Topic Series – Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy Open Online Course: Reassessing inequality and Reminagining the 21st Century: East Harlem Focus MediaCamp workshopsI’m talking about MediaCamp today, but the ambitions of MediaCamp shape and reflect the other components of the JP365 project.
There are many lessons that we took from the transformations in journalism that was struggling to shift from “legacy” to “born digital” news organizations. C.W. Anderson’s book, Rebuilding the News, outlines the shift in this field, and its a harbinger of what lay ahead for us higher ed in the digital era.
There is a parallel use pf language in journalism to describe the kinds of changes they are dealing with...and we apply it to academia. In journalism, they talk about “legacy” news organizations -- such as The Philadelphia Inquirer (now defunct) ~ which was based on print publication and newsstand purchase or home delivery.
Many parallels between journalism and higher ed that we’ve embraced.
We have our own “legacy” models of scholarship with distinct characteristics...
Sandeep Junnarkar was an inspiration and a cornerstone to the MediaCamp project – he’s the journalist who was steering the NYT web edition when it went live, and…
Junnarkar had worked as breaking new editor when the paper went live on the Web, and his Live in Focus series funded by the Knight Foundation early in journalism’s digital shift, around 2008 – so he was a MediaCamp inspiration and a primary workshop leader.
How did a librarian insert herself in the middle of this project? Well, academic librarians have a few decades of experience with rapidly shifting discovery systems -
Libraries were the first sectors of higher ed to digitize – card catalogs morphed to online catalogs, that pretty well supplanted card catalogs by the 1980s
And library holdings now are the higher ed resource most discoverable through popular search engines (more than course content, academic governance notes, elements of academic review). Usually now, rather than to comb through a catalog or an index of any sort, librarians and scholars both use Google and Google Scholar.
The shift from analog to digital & the explosion of different formats is shifting the formal scholarly publishing landscape, and the archive of scholarly work that librarians concern themselves with.
Legacy periodical collections were mostly off limits or in-building use only. EVEN the e-versions are STILL restricted behind walls – not only library fortress physical walls, but paywalls. Academic journal distribution in the early electronic age, the 1980s, was modeled on legacy formats. Look at JSTOR with all that PDF - it's as close to paper as a digital thing can be. Image from here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iamthebestartist/6861258876/
Vendors designed ejournals for distribution to the same library markets as before, making journals easier and cheaper to produce. Authorized readers could now reach journal content from outside library walls, but only if they had proper credentials embedded in their online access routines. But non-credentialed readers will hit a paywall. I continue to marvel at the public’s general lack of unrest in the face of not being able to get to publically-funded research locked in these databases that only the academic elite can reach. Only recently graduated alumni seem to rebel – when will this system be forced to end? What sort of crisis will precipitate it?
Let me tell you about library spending over the course of my career:
In the era of the e-journal, journal costs are up exponentially, eating academic library book budgets. That line straight up? That's serial costs. Book costs are bad enough, but journal prices? Crazy. Part of this is because there are so many more journals, but no wonder because they are cheap to produce and the vendors sell more at ridiculously high prices.
And these represent annual costs, we don’t own e-journal content, we license it.
Other problems – no real preservation, we pay over and over for the same content. Think of all the music formats: LP/vinyl, to cassette tape, CDs, MP3s, to streaming licensed content. To – cloud.
How ridiculous are these prices? Here’s another way of looking at it.
For cash return to investors, Elsevier and Springer do way better than Apple and Disney, slightly better than Google, in the ballpark of Microsoft. The big 5 academic publishers (Elsevier, Springer, TF, Wiley, Sage) routinely make in the 30% profit range, depending on how you count.
A Just Publics @ 365 Infographic illustrating this problem – a serials crisis, an ethical crisis. And - academic authors continue, for the most part, to fuel it. We get grants and take salaries to produce work that we give away to publishers for free. Publishers in turn reap the big profits based on sales to universities strapped afford it. Graphic content by Jill Cirasella. Graphic designed by Les Larue: http://www.leslarue.com/
There is a lot troubling about academic publishing.... and librarians have long been advocates of new systems of open publishing. So, increasingly are academic authors http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/31858/title/Opinion--Academic-Publishing-Is-Broken-/
The whole notion of an archive is now one that’s digital, distributed, and mostly open ..... but libraries of academic work have yet to significantly change the game, holding on to legacy models formed in the early digital era. http://dp.la/
But the shift from analog to digital is exploding the possibilities of different formats AND modes of production..
Digital technologies have changed how we keep track of citations, bibliographies......and, with tools like Zotero, we can create bibliographies, keep track of citations, and share them with others who have similar interests. Librarians routinely support Zotero; we teach students and scholars how to use it. When scholars share Zotero libraries, they’re at risk of violating publisher’s copyright. Falls under fair use if the file sharing is limited to small groups, but share it too widely and you’re at risk for publisher reprimand or prosecution.
Free an open, and offered – for the most part -- by our colleagues in the professoriate, professors of Journalism
Video about MediaCamps by Alameda Toral, featuring Sujatha Fernandes
Sujatha Fernandes, a City University of New York doctoral faculty member at Queens College and the Graduate Center, discusses the void in her professional training, “[w]e’re taught to teach, we’re taught to research, we’re taught to write, but we’re not usually taught how to talk to the media.” (Toral, 2014)
Twitter – a bedrock workshop. Twitter is The Social Media tool of choice for social activists, and increasingly for academics. Certainly it’s necessary for sociologists with feet in both those worlds.
Tweeting provides the first draft of a set of ideas, engagement with a topic, and connection with colleagues.
At the LSE Impact Blog: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/09/25/how-to-be-a-scholar-daniels/
So, for example, Jeff Jarvis (CUNY colleague) has 120,003 Twitter followers.
That’s a kind of “altmetric” - a measure of his reach and influence.
Increasingly, book publishers - even some employers - look for evidence of your reach on particular platforms before awarding book contracts, even some alt-ac jobs. Traditional ac, less so.
Blogging, a bedrock MediaCamp workshop.
How many here have seen the production end of WordPress? This is what a “new post” looks like in the back-end of WordPress...
The key here is that blue button on the right.... “Publish”
Through blogging, scholars can also open up a space between research and journalism in ways that are creative, interesting, and contribute to an engaged citizenry.
Also offered a class about using Google analytics to gauge how you’re doin’ in the words of former NYC mayor Ed Koch.
Social Sciences Citation Index tracks the number of times a work by an author is cited by others in the peer-reviewed literature. This is a great metric invention, but it's also a spinning, whirling vortex of hermetic academic self-reference.
I have heard that some social scientists would use rulers, seriously, to measure a scholar’s entry in the SSCI for tenure or promotion evaluation. Anybody confirm that?
There are lots of tools coming together to help make it easier to measure these alternative metrics, or “altmetrics.” This includes the “Tw-Impact Factor” The quantity of tweeting about an article within the first 3 days of publication roughly correlates with other traditional impact factors.
However, this is not a complete transition from a “legacy” past that is behind us, and a “digital” present or future. The legacy and the digital are imbricated and overlap in the here and now.
It really does help increase impact if your work can be read by anyone who happens onto it, not only academics with access to journals or libraries.
Having an article be OA itself increases it’s readership and impact; add social media to that and your work has a chance of landing an audience. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0013636
From the abstract: “Articles whose authors have supplemented subscription-based access to the publisher's version by self-archiving their own final draft to make it accessible free for all on the web (“Open Access”, OA) are cited significantly more than articles in the same journal and year that have not been made OA.”
Just this week, NYTimes (finally) reporting on academic journal pirating and Open Access. A Russian site, SciHub, makes pirated copies of journal articles available to searchers anywhere on the planet. And the second article a couple days ago the NYTimes’ Amy Harmon reported on scholars contributing to the biology disciplinary archive BioRxiv (called “Bio Archive”) then TWEETING about it with the #ASAPbio hashtag.
In a follow up article, Tweets and conversations on Twitter about the NYTimes article, now comprise CHE content! Academic conversation is clearly well-established on social media.
Not the first time that a twitter flurry makes the academic press, but an indication that the important conversations we’re having about our practice shifting digitally are indeed happening on social media, that the traditional media then lift to transport to other forums.
However, this is not a complete transition from a “legacy” past that is behind us, and a “digital” present or future.
While legacy metric systems continue to dismiss (or not fully embrace) non-academic readers as irrelevant; public writers can also dismiss academics as irrelevant. Kristof wrote this provocative column even while the MediaCamp workshops were underway...
Here we engaged our Public Relations officer to offer guidance about op-ed writing, in conjunction working op-ed editors - from the New York Times.
Podcasts a format of the JustPublics@365 project’s Knowledge Streams- that also included livestreams and video recordings of events and interviews, blogged recaps of events and blogged opinion pieces.
Podcasts, especially interviews about a scholar’s work, embraced as an easy format to create and to share on many platforms. Once scholar in this workshop has an incredibly fine ‘radio voice’ that she used to create her own course-related audio series, and inspired her students to do likewise.
Indication in the first year that many more WANTED to attend than who actually did – it was that terrible winter… but actually it wasn’t the weather that kept people away
American Sociological Association held annual meeting in August 2013 in NYC where JustPublics@365 and the J-School faculty offered a series of workshops, on the fly. The ASA Followed up in Summer 2014 with a pre-conference in San Francisco…
And then the GC Library ponied up to sponsor the last round of workshops in Fall 2014. Since then, library instruction has extended to offer workshops on blogging and metrics. But there is still great unmet demand for social media literacy and expertise among our faculty.
Great for graduate students!!! if not for administrators. Are we less hopeful about the future change for academic metrics and valuation?
We weren't totally successful, there were definite holdouts - this respondent too a social scientist-
Product: we published several printed "knowledge streams" - the social media toolkit among them. A summary of the MediaCamp workshops, notes for those who failed to take them; a resource for those who couldn't take the workshop.
The ASA has just released a greatly extended the Social Media toolkit; with exciting interviews and testimonials by many of your favorite sociologists.
Available free online with a creative commons distribution license at http://www.asanet.org/press/social_media_toolkits.cfm
And - Jessie and I teamed up on a book that should hit the lists this summer. And, guess what, we negotiated a contract for it that features open access publishing after a 12-month embargo.
Klein is also a regular on MSNBC and a founder of Vox.com, a site dedicated to interpreting the news. The entire talk can be found here http://chrisblattman.com/2015/11/05/ezra-klein-how-researchers-are-terrible-communicators-and-how-they-can-do-better/
Prof. Stein, a MediaCamp student, speaks to this very phenomenon.
MediaCamp: Communications for Public Scholarship
The Graduate Center,
MediaCamp: Communications for Public Scholarship
…one senior faculty member,
with arms crossed against chest,
declared that he would “not be
made to learn the Internet.”
--Engaging Academics and Reimagining Scholarly Communication for the Public
Good: A Report, 2014
The Graduate Center,
“There is nothing important that cannot be made
“One mistake that is made is leaving this work to the
communications departments. … There is an
authenticity that comes from the people behind the
work reaching out that no communications
department can match.”
-- Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein to World Bank researchers, Nov. 15, 2015
“There’s a lot of talk among sociologists about ‘public
sociology’ but few of us actually know how to practice
it. Thanks to MediaCamp, I now have a better sense of
how to communicate my research to non-academics
and to scholars outside of my fields of expertise. I’m
blogging about already-published research, trying out
new ideas, and making new contacts via Twitter.”
- Arlene Stein, Professor, Sociology, Rutgers University