Wednesday, January 03, 2007


John Holbo, as evidenced by his MLA talk, is very, very smart. I hope he brings this level of A-game to the other conference at which he's presenting before he returns to Singapore.

My favorite line:

"First, necessity is not the mother of subventions."

(It's not just a good pun-- it's really powerfully important to the point he's making.)

Now this kind of thing isn't my kind of thing. I'm a cloth-and-paper traditionalist, and I haven't been in any hurry to see blogging as more than a sideline to scholarship and an efficient means of information distribution. But John makes an excellent case. Often more-moderate arguments are more-effective ones, but not, I think, here. He's not arguing in an apologetic spirit for blogging to be seen as a kind-of-okay thing for scholars to be doing that they shouldn't be embarrassed about or denied tenure for. He's arguing in an aggressive, almost confrontational manner that blogging and related phenomena can be central, and can help fix a lot that is currently broken. He's directly challenging the romanticized image of the monograph-journal-and-library institutional framework, and pointing out that it doesn't work as imagined now, and couldn't work as imagined givem the various constraints, so rearguard attempts to conserve it are likely to be counterproductive.

I've known, since before The Valve got launched, that John was up to something big that I didn't quite get. I'm starting to get it.

Go read.

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