Hacking the Academy

When I first searched for the book Hacking the Academy, I ended up at http://hackingtheacademy.org.  This is the site of the “Table of Contents” for the book that was crowdsourced in one week.  Having done a bit of background research on what the book was, I was still thrown off by what I was looking at on this website.  It was rather confusing and disorganized because I had to click on each link separately to read the individual essays that make up the book.  Personally, I found this annoying and difficult to follow the arguments.  However, when I first typed in hacking the academy into Google, there a pdf version was also listed.  Upon following that link, I ended up with a much more organized and cohesive image of the book.  It was from that site that I was able to comfortably do the reading.

What I found most interesting about this book was the fact that it was created (at least all of the essays were gathered) in one week.  For being such a quick turnaround, I thought the arguments in the essays were very well put together.  There did not seem to be a rushed feeling within the various essays that one could possibly expect with such a tight deadline.  This is a testament to the speed with which the internet and social media can promote scholarship.  For all of these scholars to have received the request to contribute, and then quickly sent in such provocative essays is impressive.  On top of that, this book is available online for free.  Given the amount I’ve paid for books throughout my education this was a welcome financial relief.

This project is a good example of the power of scholarly collaboration.  I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that could claim more than a few authors, but Hacking the Academy had over 100.  Given this immense amount of authorship, one could expect the book to be segmented and awkward as the arguments and writing styles differed every few paragraphs. However, I thought the book’s arguments were free-flowing and easy to follow (that is, as long as I read the pdf version as opposed to going straight to hackingtheacademy.org).

Overall this book was similar to a book I read a week before (Debates in the Digital Humanities).  Both were a compilation of essays about the pros and cons of digital scholarship and its place in academia.  Many of the arguments were along the same lines of the need for change in academia and for digital scholarship to be more respected as a professional field.  What I preferred about Hacking the Academy (other than it being free) was that its mode of creation and publication reflected the main arguments in the book.  It is a real-life example of what digital scholarship can achieve if enough people make the leap into understanding the advantages that accompany this type of scholarship.

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