Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RMWMTMBM Restart

I'm really, truly and exceedingly happy to announce that the "restart" button has been pushed on this blog as of TODAY.   As many of you know, I have been undergoing my tenure-review this past year and, as a consequence, was advised-- more or less wisely, I'm not sure-- to minimize my "online" presence during those deliberations.  (That process is still ongoing, now in the hands of an Appeals Committee, but my participation in it is thankfully finished.)  This site has been very important to me for many, many years and, judging from the traffic it has continued to receive in my absence, it appears to have remained important to many of you.  Neglecting it has most definitely carved a noticeably felt and "public intellectual"-shaped hole in my personal and professional life in the interim.  So, I'm glad to be back.

I'll also say that the process I've undergone in the last year has provided me much time and opportunity to think about the merits and demerits of scholarly/intellectual life in so-called "new media" fora. (For the record, I think "new" is a grossly inapt descriptor at this point.)   The apex of the "public intellectual" phenomenon is largely taken to be a mid-20th-C. event, and the vitality of the public intellectual's life is understood to have declined rapidly after that short-lived peak.  Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline is a interesting study of this.  Pace Posner, who worries that 21st C. fora like blogs and social media sites (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) have left us with no "quality-control" on public intellectual life, I find that these media are becoming more and more obviously vetted by something very closely akin to the more traditional expert "peer-review" regulations.  Of course, it is still the case that anyone with an Internet connection can write/post anything he or she wants, but Posner et al's worry that everything that is out there is being read ceteris paribus seems to be a largely misplaced worry as we move rapidly forward in this new century.  Just in the last year, while I have been (for the most part) away from this site, I have seen an increasing number of my colleagues move to or advocate for not only "new media" scholarly productions but also "open-access" publications of more traditional scholarly output, the latter an obvious consequence of the force and influence of the former. That is to say, to borrow a phrase from one of our country's great public intellectuals: you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone, 'cause the times, they are a'changing.

In sum, you can expect to see more regular posts on this site henceforth.  So please bookmark, or re-bookmark, RMWMTMBM in whatever reader you employ.  And, as ever, I look forward to the conversations.

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