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05/12/2014

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Christopher P. Long

Nicely put, Eric.

My sense is that much of the controversy associated with the question of live-tweeting and live-blogging in Philosophy is rooted in a deep discomfort among professional philosophers with being public. By "being public" I mean not simply appearing in public - an instance of which I consider giving a public lecture to be, but more importantly engaging in substantive philosophical dialogue with publics of various shapes and sizes. We are all learning the habits of public communication in a digital age, and with that learning comes, of course, opportunities to fail.

If philosophers are uncomfortable with being public, we are even more uncomfortable with the public display of our own human fallibility. You have identified the stakes of that fallibility for our more junior colleagues well in your post. Relinquishing a "gotcha" approach to argumentation and scholarship would go some distance in mitigating the cost of PDF (Public Display of Fallibility).

I am struck, however, that the whole controversy seems to be blind to a live-tweeting or -blogging culture that embraces the provisional nature of the ideas shared through social media. Those of us who use Twitter and other social media for academic engagement don't regularly mistake the live-tweeted or -blogged content of a conference participant for the fully worked out published idea of a speaker. Rather, when live-tweeting and -blogging is done well, it amplifies ideas, establishes connections, and enriches the ongoing work of those engaged with the online community.

One of the reasons we are working on the Public Philosophy Journal (http://publicphilosophyjournal.org/ ) is to help cultivate the habits of online public scholarship in philosophy by looking to the open web for conversations where issues of philosophical concern intersect with those of public concern. The project is made much more daunting, but also, I hope, more relevant and valuable by the fact that we professional philosophers are often uncomfortable sharing our work-in-progress in and with the public.

I appreciate your post as an example of how that can be done well.

Eric Schliesser

Thank you for your kind words, Christopher.
I like your focus on the ways that digital media can enrich philosophy. (Obviously, I am not an impartial bystander when I say that.) I have been following the Public Philosophy Journal with interest; it's good that folk like you are experimenting with formats, perhaps, even experimenting as a way of doing philosophy (with many kinds of publics and publicity).

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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