Skip to main content

Biomedical and Electrical Engineer with interests in information theory, evolution, genetics, abstract mathematics, microbiology, big history, and the entertainment industry including: finance, distribution, representation

boffosocko.com

www.twitter.com/chrisaldrich

www.facebook.com/chrisaldrich

+13107510548

chris@boffosocko.com

plus.google.com/u/0/+ChrisAldrich1/about

stream.boffosocko.com

www.boffosockobooks.com

www.instagram.com/chrisaldrich

pnut.io/@chrisaldrich

 
 

Is it just me or has @sciencemagazine quit showing/allowing comments on articles? Perhaps a response to http://stream.boffosocko.com/2016/indieweb-raison-detre-55-freedom-of-the-press-trumps-atrocious

 

Hans, I've got the same issue of being marked "pending" and sadly those only show up in your own feed on Disqus. I typically post responses on my own website first and then copy them over to help guard against my work being lost/not seen, or not being able to point at it via URL. See also: http://stream.boffosocko.com/2016/indieweb-raison-detre-55-freedom-of-the-press-trumps-atrocious

 

#IndieWeb Raison d'etre #55: Freedom of the press trumps atrocious comment moderation

2 min read

Last week I wrote up "Some Thoughts on Academic Publishing" after reading “Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone” from Science | AAAS which made some heavy rounds in social media, particularly in academic spheres. Originally I began typing my thoughts/comments into the Disqus box on their website. After getting to the third graph, I began thinking, I should be writing this on my own website as a standalone comment/piece of content and just POSSE it over to their Disqus box.

Despite the fact that the editors/moderators of one of the most venerable science journals of our day will allow internet trolls like CPO_C_Ryback and CPO_C_Rybacks_Mother to go thirty rounds on nearly every comment on their featured piece for the week, my slightly more tempered comment is still sitting in their moderation queue untouched. 

My poor pending commentary

Fortunately I had the foresight to have self-published it before hand, or the not-insignificant time I spent thinking and writing about the topic at hand would have been gone the moment I pressed send. It's one thing to get lost in the shuffle of hundreds of comments amidst trolls, it's another thing altogether to be moderated out of existence. The IndieWeb movement has prevented me from feeling like I did two decades ago after writing a term paper for hours only to lose it after discovering that I hadn't hit control-s to save what I'd written. The additional benefit was that I was able to post those same thoughts on multiple other networks effortlessly while still being able to own what I'd originally written.

The greatest irony of the whole affair is that in conjunction with the particular article I was commenting on, Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief Science Journals, published a companion piece about the high costs and attention to detail and quality that journals try to maintain in their digital presence. Apparently this massive expense and terrific effort doesn't go as far as preventing internet trolls like those mentioned from running roughshod over their own site (which is "moderated" by the way) while keeping out commentary that may add to the discussion and community that they're apparently not attempting to foster.

 

 

I've followed this process from before it's administrative beginning. It's nice to see that we've got a philosophy for what academic freedom is, though I honesty fail to see how it differs from a basic definition of what academic freedom means in the last century, so congratulations to the dozens of people who spent countless hours rewriting a basic definition. We've done the academic equivalent of writing the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident" while failing to create any actual rules or guidelines by which the administration can hold the faculty, staff, or students accountable or which actually serve to protect the faculty, staff, or students from overstepping of authority by the university.

Where is the following "Constitution"? Where is the process for "Amendments"? Is the University actually granting any real rights here, and how are they to actually be protected? Surely we've evolved past the level of even the rights available during the Carolingian Renaissance and the early days of the birth of the universitas?

In particular, I find it disconcerting to see even the scant guidelines that existed in the intermediate draft that was sent for approval before it got to the board level have been removed. For example, statements like:
"When one is speaking on matters of public interest, it should be made clear that personal views do not represent those of the institution." or
"Professors who express their personal views on a contested issue must make it clear that students may disagree with those views without penalty."
no longer appear in the statement at all.

It's lovely that we have this new "document", but when the rubber actually meets the road, what will we do? Will we trip, stumble, and fall down as we have occasionally in the past? Where are those general guidelines? No one will care what we've said in this document, but they will surely judge us more harshly in the realm of public opinion based on the future actions of the administration and this is where the real work will have to begin.

Ron Daniels has been doing some generally good things in guiding the direction of the university community, but it seems odd that, as one of the first presidents of the institution with an academic background in law and what I know to be his philosophy in social equity, that we've heard nothing of next steps. I hope that with books entitled "Rule of Law Reform and Development: Charting the Fragile Path of Progress" and "Responsibility and Responsiveness," that we will see much more.

Some of my additional thoughts on the practicality of these matters can be found at: "Reframing What Academic Freedom Means in the Digital Age" [http://boffosocko.com/2014/04/22/reframing-what-academic-freedom-means-in-the-ditigal-age/]

 

Johns Hopkins adopts statement on academic freedom principles, philosophy http://hub.jhu.edu/2015/09/11/johns-hopkins-statement-academic-freedom

 

Johns Hopkins adopts statement on academic freedom principles, philosophy | Hub

to come back to Moulton's comment here on tenure faculty versus other levels. Check to see how the tenure ratio fits into rankings of universities and colleges.

 

Along with @JHAA_President I hope all @JHU_Alumni comment on this statement of academic freedom. http://list.alumni.jhu.edu/read/archive?id=2121492&mid=25550973&e=chrisaldrich%40jhu%2eedu&x=3963e34b

For bonus points, can you find the repeated sentence and the glaring repeated error I saw? http://web.jhu.edu/administration/provost/initiatives/academicfreedom/

Some of my thoughts on academic freedom can be found here: http://boffosocko.com/2014/04/22/reframing-what-academic-freedom-means-in-the-ditigal-age/

 

Response to JHU's academic freedom statement created by the Task Force on Academic Freedom:

Paragraph 5 of the statement beginning: "Academic freedom also entails academic responsibility." repeats itself unnecessarily in almost exact language with the following two sentences which should be combined into one:

"Faculty who express their personal views on controversial subjects in the classroom must make it clear that students may disagree with those views."

is followed by an intervening sentence, and then essentially repeated in the final sentence of the paragraph:

"Professors who express their personal views on a contested issue must make it clear that students may disagree with those views without penalty."

Also from a grammatical standpoint, while the issue at hand is academic freedom, which we can all agree is important, it is not so important that a major research university should capitalize it unnecessarily in a document like this. Except in the cases where it starts a sentence (and then only the 'A' in academic freedom should be capitalized), or perhaps in the main title which appears in all caps, academic freedom should not be capitalized anywhere in the document.

From a semantic and administrative standpoint, while it's lovely that we have such a statement, it really doesn't do much to actually institute any actual mechanisms to prevent administrators or professors from abusing the academic freedoms of others in the community. The general concepts stated here are, to a great extent, already living within our community; the real step would have been in going further spelling out something further. Where are the broad guidelines for actually instituting and safeguarding these freedoms? In essence, we've written a lovely preamble to a constitution, but forgotten to include the actual articles.