Friday, February 17, 2012

Integral Scholars: Let's Bring Scholarship To The Web

A few days ago I discovered an article in the New York Times about "Open Science" that strongly resonated with me. It covers a topic that I have been chewing on for some time: the potential for scholars and specialists of all sorts to leverage the power of the Internet to revolutionize the way knowledge is created, accessed and legitimized. Then a question came with it: why isn't the integral community more active on the open web(1)?

Corey DeVos from Integral Life says to Integral Chicks that before Integral Naked (2006), the Integral community had trouble finding itself and interacting with each other, whereas today the problem has changed: dialogue happens mostly within the community and we need more dialogue with the exterior. We can find Integral content online—mostly "pop integral" I would say—but in many ways the Integral discourse is de facto closed due to obstacles like monthly fees and premium memberships. Technically it's on the web, but not openly so. As to the scholarly discourse(2) in particular, it seems almost absent(3). And this is the discourse I'm interested in for this post.

This situation is not specific to the integral discourse. It illustrates a deeper current in the academic world and there are reasons for it. Such a closed system makes sense given the (outdated) technological structure it was designed for, and the conventional business model deriving from it. But it carries serious drawbacks too. Think compartmentalization of disciplines, lack of innovation, or the ivory tower effect dissociating the scholar from the "real world". For the integral movement, which prides itself  for being leading edge, trans-disciplinary by nature, and open to meeting people "where they are", it is a disappointing state of affairs.

I would love to see that change, and I think it's becoming more and more possible. The technology supporting a more open scholarly discourse is developing and science is likely heading in that direction anyway. Jason Priem has an interesting blog about the growing scholarly use of social media and a manifesto for new scholarship metrics—both of which shed some light on this trend. I would really like to see the Integral community a bit more open to—if not invested in—this evolution. Would it not only be consistent with its overall purpose?