IN THE COMMENTS: Yashu says:
While Fitzpatrick makes some good points (e.g. about problems with the peer review process-- though I'm not sure I buy her solution), the main thrust of her argument makes me break out in hives. It's the Elizabeth Warren political vision, advocating the priority of "community" over "individual achievement." It's Warren's critique of the business world transposed to academia (where "professorial culture is infected by pride in individual achievements and prejudice against publishing models that would de-emphasize them"):Yashu continues here.
I don’t think academics need to be "humbled," but would instead say that we need to reconfigure our priorities and understand that insofar as we have operated as individuals, it has always been by building on the work of others, and by putting our work into circulation such that it can be built upon. Some fields of course already operate in predominantly collaborative ways, as do most successful online projects, but the humanities in general have a deeply ingrained belief in the primacy of the individual voice. If we are going to take full advantage of the new ways of working that digital technologies make available, scholars will have to consider the possibility that we can accomplish more collectively than we can alone. This is not to say that the individual voice will be wholly subsumed within that of the Borg. Instead, it is meant to suggest that that voice will very often be found in more direct dialogue with other scholars, an interconnectedness that will make clear that, in fact, the individual voice that we so value has never been alone.
As you note, shifting our focus from the individual to the collaborative will require us to get past some fairly entrenched assumptions. We in the humanities will need to think differently about “credit,” so that collaborative work will count in hiring, tenure, and promotion processes. We’ll also need to develop new means of citing the contributions that our colleagues make to our work as it develops. But even more than our processes, we need to change our mindset: we need to understand ourselves as working toward collective goals; we need to value work done on behalf of a community as much as we do work that serves ourselves.