In April, SUNY-Albany librarian Laura Cohen described what she saw as "Social Scholarship on the Rise," a trend for scholars to discuss and engage their work via blogs, social networking services, and "soft peer review" (among other things).
Earlier this week, we saw an astonishing example of this process in practice.
On Monday night danah boyd, Berkeley grad student, Annenberg Fellow, and cogent observer of the (relatively) new world of "networked publics," used her blog to publish preliminary observations from her fieldwork on youth engagement with sites like MySpace and Facebook, and asked for feedback.
She posted again yesterday, this time about her shock at the response - within 24 hours, her essay had been viewed 90,000 times, reported on (poorly) by the BBC, and directly commented on over 170 times (190 as of this morning).
Think about this - a grad student publishes preliminary fieldwork notes to the web, and within 24-48 hours has drawn the attention of a mid-sized city. Granted, danah is a rock star, and not all of the comments were appropriate or well-conceived. But I think most academics would consider their careers a success if they commanded an audience of such size over their entire careers.
Is danah a super-hub? Are the rest of us scattered throughout the long tail? Clearly, on both counts. But at the very least, this suggests an emerging mode for scholarship, a new means of engaging the broader community (both scholarly and pedestrian) in our work.