Continuing the discussion from Torley on The Resurrection: Take Two:
This an interesting proposition. Though @vjtorley is making the case about religion, but it could be easily extended to science. It is partly a commentary on the times, but then also dips into giving the current state of affairs normative force, as if this is how it should be done. This is worth thinking about in more depth.
First of all, I agree that books are not as important as they used to be. Shorter forms are important now. Though it seems that there is a range of contributions between “Book” on one end and “Forum” on the other. Here is how I might draw out a gradation from substantive and formal by slow, to nimble and superficial.
- Book, once the gold standard of academic contributions, even in science.
- Journal article, which is most common in science, and becoming increasingly common in the humanities.
- Institutional publication/magazine/blog, which might go through peer-review, and benefits form engagement with a larger community (such as the New York Times, or Biologos)
- A well curated blog, which is published with essentially no peer-review.
- A forum conversation, with complete immediacy and all the rough and tumple.
It seems that it is far to either or to jump from a critique of 1 to say we must do 5. That doesn’t make sense to me. Rather, it seems, that a joint approach seems to work best.
Moreover, I see value in creating hybrid approaches, combining the best parts of each genre into different composites. That is why, for example, we have an open forum that also engages scholars in office hours, and also we have a blog, and we can also turn threads into DOI’s. This sort of creativity and innovation, I think, will carry the day in the end.
I’d also insist that saying “books don’t matter” any more risks a profound sort of anti-intellectualism. @vjtorley, what are you after here? Influence? If so, perhaps this book might give you a different view. And yes. I understand the irony of encourage you to read a book. This one, however, might give you a new way forward.