Why and how researchers have to develop some free and fast expression spaces?
Because of the complexity and the long delays in publishing academic papers (peer review, norms, etc.), there is a need to develop some free and fast expression spaces.
Academic blogs have already a long story. In France, we can quote for example the precursor blog platform Culture Visuelle launched by André Gunthert (EHESS Paris). It was self-hosted from 2009 to 2014, then migrated to Hypotheses.org, a French WordPress “platform for academic blogs in the humanities and social sciences”.
Outside of the WordPress scope, we have seen a lot of others digital publishing platforms pop up during these last years. To date, the most famous is Medium.com, who claim to be a “network of thought” and who promise “a great audience to authors” (in exchange to host free “stories”; hello @PiaP!). Since many users generated content (UGC) platforms have died (as MySpace, Vine, etc.) or were overwhelmed by publicity (as Blogger.com, Canalblog.com, etc.), it’s very important, especially for academics, to publish on a “trusted” space.
Social (mass) media like Twitter or Facebook are good to interact with readers, but they fails to provide a good interface for reading mid or long form articles. And platforms like Hypotheses.org have a normalized (legible but boring) interface design – as if shape doesn’t matter when it comes to academics posts. In a self-hosted environnement, we have to build by ourself a community, but we keep the control on the contents ownership and layout (typefaces, margins, responsive grid, etc.). When it comes to design, shapes matters!
As we are online, we ever are producing ruins, said the French researcher Nicolas Thély. So the self-hosted solutions are definitely better. Because it wants to do everything without technical knowledge, WordPress based websites are bloated – plugins and updates can “kill” them. It uses an SQL database, which is slow, and complicated if we want to move to another system.
That’s why we’ve seen, since some years, a rise of “static” websites (without databases), who are much more light, resilient, and easy to maintain. In French, for example, some people like David Larlet or Antoine Fauchié use a static website to blog about the digital. That website is powered by Kirby, wich is a friendly static CMS. It’s not free software, but the user license allows to modify everything on the core, and the online documentation is pretty good. I’ll detail another day how my website was made (both design and code), thanks to Marine Illiet great help.
Powered by Jekyll, Antoine’s blog provides a technological watch on the economic and cultural impact of emerging reading and writing technologies. He did not (often) use his blog to write long posts, but mainly for short lists / quotes of interesting online contents.
I both like that way of doing as I like the way André Gunthert use his blog L’image sociale to investigate some new research directions that he later reworks on inside “official” academic publications. His blog is both a kind of lab and a Tribune for personal contents. “Opinion” posts not often find their way to academic journals, but are fine on blogs. I also want to use my blog to provide some feedbacks on old or recent projects / papers / conferences / courses. Let’s see how it’ll work!
As I want to translate one day into English some parts of that website, it’s sure that I don’t have time to do blogs posts both in French and English. So why not use that blog to train my English? It’ll be also a good way to talk to English readers about my research work, as a medium for friends (hello Osteel!) who don’t care about scientific – too long – papers. Please apologize for errors of wording or of copying!
Also, don’t expect too much publishing regularity, but I’ll try do better than my friend Nicolas Taffin on Polylogue.org :) And thanks to Raphaël Bastide who asked me to open a blog for at least two years…