Saturday, October 27, 2007

barry wellman, that ain't right

in response to a recent thread about james watson, race, and racism on aoir-l, barry wellman, famous internet sociologist, wrote:

1. I think this list always needs to make a choice about whether to stay on topic (Internet Research -- both words are germane) or wander way off topic. (Dr. Watson). I value it for the former, and don't think this is the place for a general bull session. If others persist, I know that I will not want to read or participate, as many others have decided not to do before. (Step back and analyze who are the active published scholars in journals such as JCMC, ICS, NM&S, Info Sty, etc -- and who contributes here.)

2. But, as long as you got me going, to give my .02 re Watson, the world is filled with scientists (and politicians) making ex cathedra pronouncements about the things they don't know much about. Just like some professors I know ;-)

wow! fascinating for at least four reasons:

1. professor wellman has a long history of calling into question various topics on aoir-l, one of the largest and most interdisciplinary listservs for academics studying the internet. many of the topics he calls into question revolve around discussions of race. not cool.

2. professor wellman also has a long history of threatening to leave, or hinting that he may threaten to leave, aoir-l and aoir. interestingly, such threats often occur directly before or directly after aoir conferences. it's weird like that.

3. barry wellman equates internet research with being published in JCMC, ICS, NM&S, Info Sty. ok, first, some translation. JCMC = the journal of computer-mediated communication. ICS = information, communication and society. NM&S = new media and society. and Info Sty = um, i'm not sure what that is. second, what a limited perspective of a field that is growing all over the place.

4. barry says, "stop this discussion!" then barry says, "wait, wait - here's my opinion on this discussion!" that's called sending mixed messages. that's also just weird.

famous internet sociologist or not, such behavior just ain't right.

update: saturday afternoon, barry wellman attempted to comment on my blog but was unable to. instead, he emailed me the following message with the request to post his response. i grant his request.

David,

I have written a response to your blog. However, an adblock of Captcha is weirdly stopping my posting it. So I would appreciate it if you would post it. Thanks.

Barry Wellman

It would have been nice if David Silver had copied his blog post to me, rather than leave it for someone else to alert me to it.

He's right. I do wish the AoIR list would stay on topic, and I point it out when it's off topic. I mentioned some journals, but it was obviously a "for example" list. I don't think I should have mentioned 100s more.

David's also right: I have said "stay on topic" before to the Association of Internet Researchers list and will again. And I will probably again point out how few experienced Internet Researchers contribute to this list. Some have told me it is because of the relative absence of discussion of Internet Research. I am sad that David Silver wants this to be an unfocused bull session, or is he just continuing a long series of upsets with me?

David's "many of the topics he calls into question revolve around discussions of race. not cool" is an uncalled for innuendo and factually untrue. (Do I have to point out I have paid my "race" dues since the 1950s.) The Watson discussion had nothing to do with Internet Research, and I said so. Just as when David wanted to make political manifestos early in the days of AoIR, I wondered if that was the right locale for it.

However, David is right that as long as I had the floor re Watson, I did give my very brief .02. As I think David would agree, making political pronouncements is seductive and easy; it's certainly easier than doing systematic research.

I find this a sad post from David. I won't continue. Back to Internet Research.

Barry Wellman

2 comments:

Buridan said...

i think it is information society

david silver said...

ahh, thanks jeremy!

so, for the record, Info Sty = the information society.