Dissemination as Cultivation

I completely agree with the idea that dissemination as cultivation is ‘a matter of striking a balance between form and content’, as is said in ‘Doing Digital Humanities’ by James O Sullivan et al. Both form and content are important as each is needed to keep the reader engaged with the material that you are describing to them. With the emergence of the new digital environment, that is growing each day, we now have multiple outlets to express ourselves online. Be that in a scholarly fashion through publishing an online paper or in a more informal way such as blogging, the web has given everybody the capability to create their own space online.

If we turn our attention to the impact this has on the world of university and scholars, it has given them access to a place where there is the potential that their work can come to be known on a worldwide scale. After uploading their work people from across the world can view it, consider the information in it and then use it to form their own opinions on the matter. As outlined by James O’Sullivan et al in the book ‘Doing Digital Humanities’ scholars should grasp this opportunity to familiarize themselves with the world of digital as it holds so much potential for them to spread their work even further across the globe. It allows us to share knowledge with people who previously may not have had access to it.

This brings me onto the idea of openness when it comes to accessing information online. Who exactly gets to see this information once it is online? Drawing lines between who can and cannot access this information can be difficult. In the past few years there have been protests against keeping information that is online censored from the public. The one that comes to mind is Aaron Swartz and his protests on SOPA-PIPA. A large number of the people saw this as taking away their right to freedom of expression while on the web. Martin Paul Eve describes “open access” as not just a “quiet murmur” anymore but instead it has grown into a “globally mandated revolution”. Public expectancy has the potential to change a lot of things as it draws attention to the matter at hand and lets people who are not involved research the matter and come back with an informed opinion. Here, we are talking about the access to scholarly work. While there is a strong public opinion saying this should happen let’s see what we can find out we look at the other side of the argument.

What makes information valuable? Objects are valuable relative to their scarcity. If all information became completely accessible to everyone would there be any distinction between people when they are going for job interviews as each person would have access to the same information? On the other hand by opening access you are spreading human knowledge that has been built up over thousands of years, which many argue everyone has a right to know.