There have been a number of academic articles written recently which look at milblogging.  For those interested in the legal issues surrounding milblogging, particularly issues of free speech versus OpSec, there are two recent law journal articles which may be of interest:

For those interested in the Fred Phelps/Westboro Baptist Church issue, there is this article:

  • “Making Sense of ‘God Hates Fags’ and ‘Thank God for 9/11′: A Thematic Analysis of Milbloggers’ Responses to Reverend Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church,” in the Western Journal of Communication, Vol. 71, Iss. 1 (Jan 2007).  The abstract reads:

“Since June 2005, the Reverend Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) have conducted protests at funerals of U.S. military personnel killed in the War on Terror. Investigating a webring of military blogs, we conduct an analysis of vernacular responses to the WBC’s protests. Articulation theory informs our analysis as we characterize the ideological work performed in vernacular responses to the protests. Bloggers responses demonstrate that the WBC exposes ideological tensions involving freedom of speech and religious expression, enactments of citizenship, injustice in the justice system, and disciplined military bodies out of control.”

There’s no full text available for this last article (which is probably fine; it sounds like typical academese BS anyway) because publishers of academic journals are possibly even stupider than DoD when it comes to the whole Information Age, Web 2.0 thing.  The most recent year’s worth of issues of many journals are “embargoed” by most publishers, meaning that even if you are at an institution which has subscriptions to those journals, you still can’t get the previous year’s issues.  Let me repeat that in case you are confused:  Your institution pays a lot of money for a subscription to a journal, but then you are not allowed to see the issues from the previous year, only the older issues.  And as more and more universities go to electronic-only subscriptions, that means that you can’t even go to the shelf and pull off the hard copy.  So, if you want to keep up with all the latest, you’re S.O.L., and paying a lot of money to be S.O.L. too!

What are the impacts of this?

  1. Increasingly, most scholarship will suffer from at least a one year time lag as few have the capability to actually read the latest research in a given field.
  2. The level of exposure (none) for those scholars who publish in journals which enforce a 12-month embargo will not be as widespread as it could have been (very little).
  3. In the face of competing forms of knowledge production and information sharing, such as blogs, wikis, and other social networking sites on the Internet, academic scholarship will become even more marginalized to the point of irrelevance (if it’s not there already).

Of course, much of this is the fault of academics and academic institutions themselves.  The publishers can get away with this nonsense because the institutions are still willing to pay outrageous fees for subscriptions which don’t give access to the latest research findings.  They should never have agreed to that!  Let’s face it, there is no market for most academic journals outside of university libraries.  If universities had stood up to the publishers and refused such a ridiculous arrangement, then maybe I (and others) could actually get the latest articles related to the research I/we are doing.

Next, the “publish or perish” culture of academia means that scholars are still willing to publish in these journals, even if there is little chance that anyone will be able to read what they have written for at least a year.  But in most cases, it doesn’t really matter if anyone reads what they have written or not.  Promotion and tenure committees just want to see those added lines on the CV; they could care less what was actually written.

Such is life inside the walls of the “ivory tower.”  Sorry for the rant.  Enjoy the articles.

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