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Mark Smithers

I wonder whether 'reputation' web sites may emerge that give an independent indication of a person's online reputation. Already sites like twitter.grader.com will provide a ranking. Maybe in future someone like Google will provide this functionality.

Nicolas Holzapfel

I don't think anyone could disagree with that viewpoint and I certainly hope academic institutions see it that way too; not just for the sake of giving fair recognition to internet-savvy academics but also because it would encourage more academics to share their expertise online, making the world of academia more accessible and more influential.

Steve Ransom

I think you give us a number of important issues to consider here. Thanks.
The only area that I would be more cautious about is that of formulas and mere numbers of viewers as evaluative criteria. A presentation posted on a service like SlideShare is not really equivalent to a keynote at all. With a keynote, the speaker has been intentionally selected based on a proven track record/reputation of some kind. Attendees are attending the conference based upon their discipline(s) of interest and position. The audience is neither random nor global in the open sense. WIth an online presentation, it is possible that much of the audience is clicking out of curiosity, but there is no way to gauge whether the presentation was viewed in its entirety and viewed by people who had a serious interest (hence not viewed in its entirety). The silliest or crudest YouTube videos may have hundreds of thousands of views if gone viral, yet perhaps that says more about the viewers than it does about the individuals posting that sort of content. All I am thinking about here is that the posting of, linking to, and retweeting of content does not necessarily indicate excellence or rigor when the audience is global and potentially unlimited (and I know you did not state this). The same holds true with peer-reviewed publications. Although they are problematic when hidden behind subscriptions and membership that essentially keep them from wide readership and dissemination, there is something to be said for the quality/rigor that they require/ensure.

That being said, I think you are quite correct that we need to seriously reevaluate how we determine merit and recognition in a highly connected and digital age. The traditional notion of scholarship really needs to be carefully reworked.


@Mark - yes, something that gives a metric of 'scholarly activity' would be useful, but it'd come with lots of caveats.
@Steve - yes, see some of my previous posts on metrics. We should see them as part of a package, not the replacement for peer review. I'd disagree with you on a keynote being superior though - often the keynote is selected on the basis of being a mate of someone who is organising the conference and the audience doesn't sign up for the keynote, they have no choice in the matter. So you could argue that views, links, tweets to a slideshare are more significant because they exercise an element of choice. Obviously they are not the _same_ thing but by looking at the underlying reasons for why we value something such as the keynote we can then extrapolate back up to the online world and find activities that meet those criteria also.

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