Friday, April 10, 2009

[Yasmin_announcements] New criteria for new media academics

from jon ippolito

I know some folks on this list have already requested these guidelines
privately, but now that Leonardo has published them you can refer your
peer committee to their Winter 2009 issue. Kudos to Roger Malina and
co. for  nudging academia into the 21st century!

Leonardo publishes "New Criteria for New Media"

Academia's goal may be the free exchange of ideas, but up to now many
universities have been wary--if not downright dismissive--of their
professors using the Internet and other digital media to supercharge
that exchange, especially in the arts and humanities. Peer review
committees are supposed to assess a researcher's standing in the
field, but to date most have ignored reputations established by
blogging, publishing DVDs, or contributing to email lists.

In a signal that some universities are warming to digital scholarship,
however, the winter 2009 issue of MIT's Leonardo magazine--itself a
traditional peer review journal, though known for experimenting with
networked media--has published a feature on the changing criteria for
excellence in the Internet age. To make its point as concretely as
possible, the feature includes the recently approved promotion and
tenure guidelines of the University of Maine's New Media Department,
together with an argument for expanding recognition entitled "New
Criteria for New Media."

Rather than throw time-honored benchmarks for excellence out the
window, "New Criteria for New Media" tries to extend them into the
21st century. To supplement the "closed" peer review process familiar
from traditional journals, U-Me's criteria recognize the value of the
"open peer review" employed in recognition metrics such as ThoughtMesh
and The Pool. As the name suggests, open peer review allows
contributions from any community member rather than a group of
experts, and all reviews are public; when combined with an appropriate
recognition metric, the result is much faster evaluations than
possible via the customary approach. "New Criteria for New Media" also
urges academic reviews to reward collaboration in new media research;
valuable roles include conceptual architect, designer, engineer, or
even matchmaker (e.g., introducing two other researchers whose
collaboration results in a publication).

Because the University of Maine hopes other institutions will adopt
these criteria and adapt them to their own needs, it is releasing them
under a Creative Commons (CC-by) license. (Due to a misprint by MIT
Press, the Leonardo article highlights the authors' copyrights rather
than the CC license; it's surprisingly hard to give things away in a
print economy!) The new criteria have already been sought after by
individual tenure candidates and cited in the Chronicle of Higher
Education. You can find them in Leonardo's winter 2009 issue (vol. 42
no. 1) or online at these links:

"New Criteria for New Media" (white paper)

"Promotion and Tenure Guidelines" (sample redefined criteria)

For more information, please email me or the Still Water lab at the
University of Maine (

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