why META-STRAND’s habitat is a website

why META-STRAND’s habitat is a website

reading time: 5 minutes

the new public square

Let’s start with an unassailable truth about academia, shall we? The eternally spinning hamster wheel of ‘publish or perish’. The days when scholarly works were exclusively bound in dusty, leather-clad tomes, perched on the obscure, seldom-reached shelves of academic libraries, are as outdated as VHS tapes. Yes, those were the “good old days” of analog scholarship, where the only folks who’d ever read your work were a few colleagues and perhaps an eager postdoc who’d mistaken your thesis for something else entirely. True, the system has conserved itself pretty much in the demeanor of, well, the days of the first universities in the Middle Ages. We’ve been encumbered by archaic scholarly rituals for so long that the mere notion of open access sends shivers down the spines of many tenured academics. I get it. The insularity of peer-reviewed journals lends a faux-aura of grandiosity. But let’s not forget that the most impactful scholars – Copernicus, Galileo, Einstein – were essentially public intellectuals. Their ideas were explosive because they reached beyond the hallowed halls. And remember: ideas only live when they’re engaged with.

And speaking of engagement, hello World Wide Web! In our era of digital immediacy, where information is constantly zapped across millions of pixels on an international scale, scholarly works lurking in the shadows, clinging to paywalls and institutional gatekeeping look downright archaic. But if your work’s true impact lies not just in its intellectual rigor but also its accessibility, its shareability, why not embrace the digital public square? Ieas should evolve, not fossilize.

pixel-perfect professors, or the scholarly web designer

Now to the pièce de résistance – web design as part of academic qualification. Gasp! Anathema, you say? Yes, the very notion of open digital access to the house that is a scholarly work – and more so also building and designing this house – may send traditionalists into a scholarly tizzy, but let’s slow down. As Hannibal Lecter once said, we begin by coveting what we see every day. And what do we see more of these days than pixel-perfect websites? They incluence you, admit it or not. in a hyper-connected world, having your habilitation – yes, your professorial magnum opus – online isn’t a modern convenience of “going with the flow” but an intellectual imperative. It’s about embracing web design as an extension of academic expression. Meta, isn’t it? 😉

Being well-versed in web design is not just about making things ‘look pretty’; it’s about effective scholarly communication. And that’s what academia is – or should be – all about, right? Your website’s design sets the stage for your intellectual narrative, so you’re actually creating an experience. Remember Roland Barthes and his plea to consider text as texture, as weaving? Well, consider a website the warp and weft of modern discourse. As such, the mise-en-scène of META-STRAND isn’t just aesthetic; it’s an articulation, a Barthes’ian semiotic field where cultural codes are both created and interpreted.

And for an endeavor like META-STRAND, dealing with the interactive worlds of gaming, understanding the very mediums through which such cultural artifacts are disseminated – that is, digital platforms – is essential. Web design is like knowing the rules of the game – and you can’t win if you don’t play. So why then, pray tell, are universities so reluctant to acknowledge this skill set as part of academic qualification? If you can’t speak the language of the digital realm, you’re as relevant as a typewriter at a hackathon.

Still raising an eyebrow, questioning the scholarly sanctity of this endeavor. “Academic credibility, where art thou?” I hear you mumble. Let’s talk habilitation. The traditional path to a professorship – filled with journal submissions, committee reviews, and eternal waiting – feels as outdated as trying to play Dark Souls on an Atari. Would it surprise you that scholars like Kathleen Fitzpatrick argue that digital scholarship could be more rigorous because it allows multiple modes of interaction and evaluation? And let’s not forget, scholars like Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, who delved into YouTube, or Espen Aarseth who coined the term ‘ergodic literature’ based on video game narratives to describe open and dynamic texts, have already stretched the bounds of what we consider serious academic pursuits. Your website can be a living CV, a portfolio, and a peer-reviewed paper all rolled into one. It can carry your academic cred and your creative spark in the same byte of information.

radical transparency and performance of ideas

So why stop at publishing a book or journal article when the web offers a pulsating, dynamic platform teeming with life and interactivity? Howard Rheingold, a pioneer in the concept of virtual communities, argued that the internet is the modern equivalent of the ancient agora – a marketplace of ideas, if you will. So, isn’t a website – especially one with its URL – an academic’s dream agora? The potential for immediate open review, user engagement, and widespread dissemination of ideas is immense.

Karl Marx once said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” So, are we just going to analyze games and culture, or are we going to change the very landscape of academic pursuit? The website, META-STRAND, this very endeavor, aims to be that change. And this is where philosophy meets practice. So here we are, at the crossroads of tradition and transformation. Shall we continue to enshrine our ideas in the labyrinthine catacombs of JSTOR, where they languish like old wine in forgotten cellars? Or shall we step into the arena of public discourse, where ideas are open-mindedly shared, scrutinized, celebrated, and iteratively improved upon? META-STRAND has chosen the latter.

With that, this whole idea of a website for META-STRAND is very much about radical transparency, a declaration that we’re pulling back the curtain, ala The Wizard of Oz, to reveal the grand design. And https://meta-strand.de is a public-facing persona of a scholarly endeavor that refuses to be buried in the subpages of an academic monolith. I’m putting it all out there, inviting you to poke, prod, question, and ponder. Open scholarship, yes; and also a cultural event. If the essence of scholarship, in line with Judith Butler’s performative theory, would be its ability to enact and perform ideas, then META-STRAND does just that. Visit META-STRAND and you’ll see a living, breathing, evolving platform where each article, each citation, and even each hyperlink is an act of scholarly performance.

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