Academics, Crowdsourcing, and Collectives
When we wrote about Networked Participatory Scholarship we discussed how as a culture we have found great value in online collaborative projects, ranging from Wikipedia, to Firefox, to Apache, Python, etc. We argued that such collective ways of thinking are scarce in academia though innovators are currently toying with such approaches. One example includes the cadre of mentors who helped Alec Couros teach one of his open courses in 2010 (see other examples pertaining to crowdsourcing in education).
The value of the Web as a platform for collectives to organize around issues of interest is now being demonstrated again with a call to boycott Elsevier that appears to have been successful. This is an example that demonstrates the value, implications, and insights of digital/network skills and literacies for academics. For instance, the social web supported Timothy Gowers in organizing the boycott. Of course not everyone has such a great following as Gowers to be able to enact change, but the possibility is there – after all the Star Wars kid didn’t have any sort of following prior to his video being released online, but following that he quickly became an Internet sensation. The lesson here is that as academics we need to understand the culture of the Web and its participatory nature because it can help us forge a scholarly future with values that we deem to be important.