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How can we design a community that serves the needs of academics and intellectuals?

An AcademicalVillage [1] would be a kind of GlobalVillage or LearningCommunity composed of educators, researchers, thinkers, activists and visionaries.

The Village would provide each person with their own personal workspace to define as they see fit, or if they already have a PersonalWiki it could be linked up with the others through some kind of InterWiki solution. It could be centered around a new academic article publishing system with peer review, all in wiki. Similar to articles being private workspaces with invited reviewers, other workspaces could be provided for project work, other workspaces could be completely private WikiAsPIMs. Other workspaces could support teaching. The village could be organized into different faculties, topics, projects or WikiThinkTanks. If there are real resources, you can add innovative concepts like video hosting, video conferencing ([DorfWiki:VideoBridge]) and reach out as a virtual university. Compared to WikiVersity it would be social concept, not a "free content" concept.

Ideally, there would also be an outside support-group (could surely be found here at MeatBall?) to support the creation of a community design.

Something like a Facebook for scholars and researchers, where people can manage different projects with collaborative software. Each user could have a

Some existing examples

Who would be interested in helping to found an AcademicalVillage?


Q. Would it have to be a GatedCommunity, with some sort of application process for membership, or could it be open?

A. We can expect the community to be as open as possible in an attempt to attract a mix of researchers, users, outside experts and creative people - depending on the project or purpose. The actual work groups for individual activities would be probably negotiated, that means that most of the time known people are invited / suggested / accepted with the degree of openness also depending on the context. E. g. a "community based development project" can be completely open while a "research paper project" may be closed-workgroup until the paper is officially finished and published. This means a non-hierarchical organization of peers and complete freedom in their autonomous activities, fully depending on their credibility to get further community support. -- HelmutLeitner

What software should we use? "The DiSo? Project" (http://diso-project.org/) - (dee • soh) is an initiative to facilitate the creation of open, non-proprietary and interoperable building blocks for the decentralized social web.

How to support the costs of running the wiki?

Ideas about possible organization of wiki

A community dedicated to WikiResearch such as MeatBall could be built on this model...

Personally, I would love to see MeatBall extended in this direction. I have been slowly building it out in that direction for a couple years now, but I actually lack the expertise to take it to that level. -- SunirShah

It is easy to found a AcademicalVillage by starting from zero, but it is very hard to make it successful. Success spells "academic recognition". The "easiest" way to get this is by making it actually a project of collaborating universities or academics. Although a number of contributors qualify as academics, they are not here contributing in their role as academics - for advancing their career - but as humans learning and researching in an informal way. I think that's not enough. So imho we have to get universities into the boat formally. -- HelmutLeitner

Universities will have to change and the academic process will have to change. Collaboration would only make sense if all partners are looking for innovative chances. But on the other hand, the AcademicalVillage (or whatever its name is) must work for professional scientists and their reputational culture, at least as good or better than old, slow, highly intransparent, expensive paper publishing system (Sunir worked a lot about that). It would not work if a number of guys like us opened a site and said "we are now doing science". You have to have a few hundred scientists or researchers, graduated and not graduated, who actually do it. And they will trust the system only if it is supported by their universities. Why should they take a risk? At least, it would be the simplest way. -- HelmutLeitner

That's the long and winding road taking many years and a 99-90% chance to fail, depending on who is doing it. Currently even mb wouldn't be strong enough to guarantee success. After installing a board, effectively becoming an open society, perhaps backed by the wiki community as official research platform, the situation might improve. Still, institutions do not really believe in what they see, because they have no "eyes". IT-departments have their own ways, often bound to their own developments or currupted by intimate relationships to proprietary platform vendors. If they see it, they will think "we can do this better" or "why should we add to their reputation". If the big guys shouldn't be interested, others will. There are so many universities in so many countries in competition for the future of the knowledge market. This is a huge thing and I don't think that one should start it small. Go the LeastEnergyWay. -- HelmutLeitner

I think we should not make the mistake to see such a project too simple. Community are not like single machines. They are more like species in a complex ecological environment, which should be taken into account. There surely is a rich assortment of academical communities. Any support or friendly relationsship will be of tremendous help. Recently I saw a lecture from the Nobelprize laureate Frank Wilczek about "quantum chromo dynamics" (basically the latest on quarks and gluons, and the dynamics of empty space). He also talked about "beauty" stating thatsomething is beautiful when any change of a component (e. g. a note in a music) makes it less beautiful. If you can easily increase beauty, something is obviously not beautiful. Obviously an AcademicalVillage that lives in rich relationships to various academical communities and universities is much more interesting and beautiful, and therefore preferrable. It will grow much easier and be more fun. -- HelmutLeitner

I think this vision is quite similar to the goal of our MinciuSodas laboratory (to serve and organize independent thinkers) and OurCulture? (to foster a culture of independent thinkers) as you note. In particular, one of the major services of our laboratory is online workspaces for investigations, and we're using a variety of online technologies. FranzNahrada leads our GlobalVillages working group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/globalvillages/ http://www.globalvillages.info and promotes the idea of "regional information coaches". He's very interested too in a physical version of your online vision. I look forward to learning more. --AndriusKulikauskas

The biggest open question and difference between opinions seems how to deal with "academic reputation, career and publishing needs". On the wide spectrum of possiblities, MinciuSodas seems to be orthogonal to this (there are no special services or provisions) to slightly negative (by neglecting the idea of "hidden work" or "publishing priority"). I don't know whether there is a cause-effect relationsship but there seems to be little energy coming from the academic world into MS, most coming from private initiators and NGOs instead. Is this observation correct? How do you see this issues? .. and other issues of MinciuSodas and/or the AcademicVillage? concept? -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut, Good questions. I don't know why, but my feeling is that this fact says more about the academic world and its relationship to independent thinkers. --AndriusKulikauskas

See also:
CategoryAcademia CategoryEducation


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