Catching up with The Conversation: three very worthwhile days (and no pay-wall)

Queensland University of Technology academic, Axel Bruns, set out earlier this year a cogent argument for preserving social media as ‘a first draft of the present’ in a similar way to how journalism has traditionally been described as ‘the first draft of history’. Bruns’ article was in The Conversation, an online journal of now large circulation which boasts its content contains ‘academic rigour, journalistic flair’ and which makes that content freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Honest History over three years has tried to be an information-broker as well as a commissioner of new material within our area of interest. As an information-broker, we link to material from The Conversation probably more often than to material from any other source. We see The Conversation as the place where academic writers go who can’t be bothered waiting for a peer-reviewed, pay-walled journal to publish all of their thoughts and research results. (In truth, most academic writers do a bit of both but Honest History lacks the pelf to penetrate many pay-walls.)

Some of the material in The Conversation might lack the judicious air of compositions longer in the gestation but it usually makes up for that in relevance and conciseness. For those readers – and there may still be a few – who have not yet sampled The Conversation, this writer recommends it. He is only sorry that, lacking a current academic connection, he cannot write for it. To sum up, if journalism is the first draft of history and social media is the first draft of the present, then The Conversation could be seen as observations by folk who know their stuff and are keen to get it across and have us get across it.

The Conversation pieces posted between 6 and 8 December give a good idea of the range of material it puts out.

David Stephens

8 December 2016

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