How can we think of access to texts on ‘underground’ sites that host PDFs of print publications in productive ways? I’m interested in having an open discussion on what it means to engage in the open/not-so-open digital access movement (see the DIY scanning movement at www.diybookscanner.org/, for example) as theologians.
I’d like to propose a session that has two interrelated levels. One, how do we teach students to navigate between good and dubious sources of theological information on the web? Is there a hierarchy of resources (and can we identify those resources, and the considerations in making such a list)?
Secondly, this is a session on what it means to shape and participate in academic theological conversations. What I mean by this is that my Facebook, Twitter, and feedly feeds are often filled with interesting (non-academic) articles that are either explicitly theological or have theological implications. I often feel the pressure to keep up with these articles in order to be part of an ongoing conversation, but often end up using Pocket or Evernote to read them in the (conceivable) future. Meanwhile theological conversations held in more traditional forums continue. How do these intersect, if at all? My question comes from the sense that online publishing speeds up theological conversations and blurs lines between academic and non-academic, theological and non-theological, and makes it difficult to adjudicate how we should focus our energy in our scholarship (which, in our guild, encourages us to still publish in peer-reviewed journals and books).
In my mind, these two questions are related in the sense that they are related to the question of intellectual authority, and how the speed of online publishing and ease of access is changing that in the sense that many different levels of authority are conversant at once. As a result, what are the advantages or disadvantages in terms of actively engaging in online conversations (regarding intellectual authority)? What is lost, and what is gained? And what does it mean to cultivate a critical, theological mindset that is able to navigate between the different levels of intellectual authority that are present on the internet?
Note: I see that there is a talk session already on the digital commons, so there may be overlap, and I’m fine if we fold the questions of this session into that. Thanks!
Full disclosure: I love Twitter. But, unfortunately, the social media platform hasn’t caught on as much amongst religious studies scholars as it has in other fields. For example, there is an entire #twitterstorians hashtag devoted to historians on twitter. To be sure, there are many religious studies scholars on Twitter and more and more joining all the time. But I don’t see the field as a whole taking advantage of the possibilities of twitter. So, for this session I’d like to discuss how and why folks are using Twitter as religious studies scholars now and brainstorm how we might use it in the future. Tied up in this, following the Salaita affair, are questions of when private life and academic persona begin and end and issues of academic freedom. Do we need a #twitterstorians equivalent? How could the AAR be more proactive in its use of social media? What should be the best practices for Twitter use by faculty? How might departments use Twitter? What about using it in the classroom? Or could we improve the way it’s used at the annual meeting (and avoid the ridiculous hashtag debacles of years past)?
If folks are game, I’d also like to turn the discussion into a chance to draft some concrete documents. Perhaps a proposal of best practices for using Twitter at the Annual Meeting or recommendations for how departments or faculty should use Twitter.