"The Visible College" Dossier

Published by Ted Striphas on Mon, 08/29/2011 - 14:46

Welcome!  Here you'll find a dossier of materials related to my short essay, "The Visible College," which was published in October 2011 in The International Journal of Communication.  It's part of a featured section on the politics of academic labor, edited by Jonathan Sterne.

My piece essentially asks the question, "What if...?"  What if we developed better tools for sharing not only academic publications, but also the backstory, or hidden transcript, of the labor that goes into them?  This page offers the beginnings of an answer to that question by tracing the essay's evolution from barely an idea to a misfit manuscript draft, and eventually a finished product.  Follow the links below to see how both the framing and argument of "The Visible College" shifted as Jonathan and I dialogued about the piece.

You may be curious as to why I've made this dossier publicly available.  "The Visible College" should tell you pretty much all you need to know, but in any case here's a gloss on the argument.

I'm something of an intellectual historian, and so I'm cognizant of how important these types of materials are for understanding the development of someone's work, or even better, for undertanding how the work develops in relationship to whom or what.  Given the ease with which emails are deleted, digital manuscript drafts are over-written, and so forth, it's incumbent upon librarians, archivists, historians, and those similarly invested in preservation to create systems for holding on to our intellectual past beyond what appears in formal publications.

There's more, though.  The forms of academic publication we currently use are legacies of the 17th and 18th centuries.  This was a time when, because of scarce natural resources and a host of other factors, authors and editors needed to be stingy about which material found its way into print.  "Extraneous" matter, including the type of information that you'll find here, was consequently condensed and shunted off to the hinterlands of academic publications.  The result?  A narrow portrait of academic labor, particularly as it relates to authorship.

This page is, admittedly, a crude first effort to begin adressing these concerns.  As such, I'd welcome your feedback on "The Visible College," this dossier, or any of the items you'll find here.


Email Correspondence Between Jonthan Sterne & Me, Organized by Thread:

Document Drafts, Including Jonathan's Margin Notes [PDF Downloads via Dropbox]

(Note: all email correspondence is reproduced here with Jonathan Sterne's kind permisison.)