David Kolb

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82 and Counting

So why am I trying a blog at age 82? I do have good examples of a successful blog from Robert Paul Wolff, whose forthright opinions are most refreshing. There are fine examples of blogs by retired philosophers: Robert Paul Wolff, Hans Sluga, and others. Then there is Austin Kleon’s book Share Your Work, where he argues there that the point of a blog is not to produce polished professional essays but to share your process, the uncertainties, the questions. This challenges my academic training that said to work in silence until you have a perfect work to submit to the gatekeepers.

The truth is, though, that the system has never quite worked so impersonally. There are too many old boy networks, rivalries between journals, and the procedures of peer review have serious problems with equity and discriminantrion not to mention the capture of journals by mega-corporations.

Nowadays, given new media where everyone can “publish” at will. but no one has to listen, the culture of preprints distributed to circles of acquaintances and on public archives has created new informal networks that get ideas and results spread out far in advance of print publication. And, yes, this can lead to closed circles reinforcing their own orthodoxies.

The new process works fairly well in the sciences, but less well in the humanities, of which philosophy is one of the most conservative in publication style. So the time is ripe for discussion through blogs and email, where you can post items that you hope some people might find, even as most can ignore them. In some ways this style of communication resembles intellectual life before printed journals took the place of self-published essays and exchanges of letters.

I’m not sure whether with age and PD I can keep up blogging more than once a week but it’s worth a try to share my quandaries and progress with interested people.

What does it feel like to be an aging well-informed but puzzled guy trying to confront new ideas and styles in a society and cosmos that questions my old centers and structures? Things once seemed so much simpler. I like the changes.