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Scholars Compile Academic Book From Twitter and Blogs

Two academics put out an online call for material. In one week, they had a book’s worth.

Hacking the Academy, an edited volume about academe in the digital age, was compiled from blog posts and Twitter messages posted during a single week. The project was organized by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, of George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media, as an experiment meant to challenge the conventional university-press system.

They asked for submissions via Twitter by posting a message with a link and the tag #hackacad.

By the end of the week, the project had received 329 submissions from 180 authors, with responses including text, video, and art.

Contributors were encouraged to post their submissions on their personal blogs, allowing anyone following the project’s tag to keep track of incoming content. As a result, many submissions reference other pieces within the volume.

“There’s a lot of crosstalk,” says Mr. Scheinfeldt. “That’s a different narrative format than ‘I’m going to talk about what I want to talk about.’”

In addition to the original submissions, the two organizers plan on including some blog comments in the print version of the book. “You end up with something that is more conversational” than a typical monograph, says Mr. Cohen. “Why does it have to be one author, one chapter?”

Topics covered in Hacking the Academy include academic employment, scholarly conferences, and educational technology. Each chapter includes several blog posts written by scholars.

Of the 329 submissions, 90 were created specifically in response to the project. Others were revisions of existing pieces.

The organizers announced their call for submissions at THATCamp, a digital humanities unconference hosted by the Center for History and New Media.

The book is scheduled for release by the end of 2010 from Digital Culture Books, an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and University of Michigan Library.

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