Sunday, April 30, 2006

Welcome to the "Summit"

I’d like to welcome you to the “New Research Summit,” coming Friday, May 12. Your participation in this event will be important. If you did not sign up to be part of the “Summit” in person, you can still play a role; your comments on our blog will be very welcome.

I hope that together we can inaugurate an ongoing, exciting discussion among teachers and students of writing and research and the new media. I invite you in particular--if you haven't yet joined in--to begin your participation by reading, posting, and commenting on this “New Research” blog, and I invite you to continue this discussion here afterwards as well. The Summit proceedings will be available after May 12 via streaming video on our website:

Rhetoric is a discipline more than 2500 years old, a discipline that still refers back to the discoveries of its founders—Aristotle is a lively voice among us. And yet perhaps rhetoric has something to say to the new technologies, to the amazing (and sometimes dreadful) new views opening up electronically every day.

It is certain that the rapidly changing situation of knowledge must cause us to rethink what exactly we mean by “research.” Are we asking questions the same way we once did? Can rhetorical understanding help us to understand these new situations?

What about the sources we use? How can we find them? How are libraries changing?
How can we know what is “credible” when we do find something interesting? Does credibility itself matter in different ways? Is the “cool” more significant than the “credible”?

What about the researcher herself/himself? Does the heroic figure of the lonely scholar pursuing a patient inquiry--a solitary quest of discovery, perhaps, through obscure archives—provide an adequate model for the age of the laptop? Is a more collaborative idea of research beginning to affect even the humanities? If so, is this a good thing?

And what about the ways we “publish” the results of research? Much of our thinking goes on now in public, before publication—on blogs and listservs, in “grey literature,” in informal communication. And might the product of writing and research be more like a performance: a web site, a DVD, a Powerpoint presentation—and might research begin to overlap with creative works? New freedoms, and new ethical issues, are arising--and new questions about the economies of research (grades, credit, copyright, payment, open access, open sources . . .)

I'm looking forward to hearing what you will say.


At 9:14 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for posting this, Suzanne, and I'm so looking forward to the Summit.

My own (biased) sense is that a collaborative model for new research ***is*** a good thing. I also thing that alternate or new forms of publishing show great promise. As academics, though, we need to be realistic in terms of how these will "count" in terms of tenure and promotion.



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