This will be my last post as Editor of AHP. Jacy Young, who joined the team in May, will soon replace me as editorial head and take charge of daily newsgathering. I will continue to contribute occasionally, but — after more than two years, almost 200 individual posts, and over 100,000 words — I have decided that it’s time to refocus my energies on finishing my doctorate and publishing the results of my research. Before I sign off as Editor, however, I feel as though I ought to write one last progress report. (The others can all be found here.)
First, some history: AHP launched in May 2007 as a collaboration between a TV/Web Producer (Burman) and a Professor (Dr Green). Its purpose, initially, was to examine the challenges faced by the resurgence in interest in “citizen journalism,” but targeted at a specific niche audience: those interested in topics covered within the historical psychological scholarly literature. The result, after two years and more than 530 posts, is that we are now averaging around one useful comment per post. While these “community contributions” have not on their own been sufficient to justify the cost of the project, they have often clarified and expanded upon the literature in some significant ways. This has definitely added value. Yet without the software to separate the wheat (these ~430 useful comments) from the chaff (~43000 spam comments), even this would not have been possible. And, indeed, it has taken a considerable investment to get to this point.
Has it been worth it? Yes, but not yet as “citizen journalism.” There is very little incentive for experts to post substantive comments at a blog when their insights could themselves be published in a scholarly journal. With this realization, the project instead became a way to experiment with methods of knowledge mobilization: a way to expand the world constructed at the intersection of history and psychology, while at the same time pushing its news, notes, and resources to those interested.
Where post-publication interaction does add value (i.e., through short user comments), the blog seems like a possible candidate technology to replace the listserv. It retains the flow of discussion among interested participants without inflicting the occasionally cacophonous results on those who would rather not participate. In this way, a blog is like “listserv on demand.” In addition, the results are searchable and can remain active for years. But asking for more from this technology would push the limits of what is presently possible: for example, the WordPress platform is perhaps not ready to be used out-of-the-box for open peer review. This progress report — my last — will review the work that has led to this conclusion, as well as providing the standard lists of “best of” and “most popular.” Continue reading After 2+ years: 530+ posts, 520+ subscribers →