Authorship in an Online World.

Overwhelmed by search results? Struggling to keep up with Tweets? Buried under your RSS feeds? The amount of digital content and digital authorship is constantly growing. Today anyone can digitally publish content. Blogs, personal websites, twitter, and other social media have made it easy for individuals to create an online presence and produce “published” material.

Academics are picking up on the importance of creating an online presence. Granted, many Universities currently do not place the same weight on digital content as traditionally published works. However, this hanging onto traditional journal publishing may fade in nears to come.

The mass amount of online content raises the question of tracking changes in authorship, and the eventual movement towards a universal authorship. Currently, “authorship, including books and new media, is growing nearly tenfold each year…Authors, once a select minority, will soon be a majority.” [1]

What does this increased sense of authorship mean? Diversified and increased content for one. Additionally, the much used adage of “quality over quantity” becomes increasingly important in a world in which everyone can publish. However, it also opens a lot of opportunities to intelligent individuals who may not be able to publish in more traditional mediums. I see the growth of authorship as a benefit, but something which requires efficient means of gathering, organizing, and storing information

[1] Denis G. Pelli and Charles Bigelow, “Nearly Universal Literacy is a Defining Characteristic of Today’s Modern Civilization; Nearly Universal Authorship Will Shape Tomorrows”, SeedMagazine.

General Reflections on the CHA Conference

Overall the conference was an interesting and valuable experience. I listened to a number of interesting papers and talked with various people who are conducting research I am greatly intrigued by. The CHA provided a good environment for grad students as well, there were many students who presented papers and many more who attended sessions and used the conference for networking.

One of the thoughts I had while at the conference was that making the presentations available by podcast or the papers available online would be greatly beneficial. A few younger presenters did record their presentations, and plan to upload them to youtube. However, the CHA as a whole seems behind on current technology and online publishing. Though this is lack of technological advancement is something that plagues the history profession as a whole, not just the CHA.

I was also encouraged by the use of ‘unconventional‘ sources by many researchers. There were papers which were based on oral history, photos, films, cookbooks, songs, and many other non traditional textual documents. Similarly, many papers had an appeal outside of traditional academia and would be interesting to the general public. Perhaps this is a sign of the profession looking outwards more frequently.