The internet kids are all right

I’m an outsider in the academy. There, I said it publicly. I don’t think that the institution I work for, or the milieux I’ve landed in, really understands the situation that faces us. Admittedly my government (and many others, I assume) demands publishing as a measurement of success, but this industry doesn’t have time for quarterly published dead-wood journals. The Internet is a here and now medium and as translators and interpreters use more and more technology and online communication, the T&I field needs to keep up, regardless of what’s acceptable in other academic fields. Recently there have been reports about how hard it is for the young to learn “like we used to when I was a boy” due to the immediacy of the Internet.

Don Tapscott has written an enlightened and justifying article in the huffpo that assures me that even if my colleagues don’t quite understand what’s going on, the students I’m teaching do.

Publishing old-stylee be damned. One of the first things that I realised when I was researching my then new post at Monash University was that the “literature” was woefully out of date. Even the most competent and knowledgeable of academics in the translation field (respect: Garcia, Pim) were/are still publishing in the old media. It just doesn’t cut it. The dialogue needs to move to the places where it will be read, where it will be found.

Four months ago I was invited to present at a conference on Technology and Translation, and I was proud as punch. I had a great time and met some amazing people – that’s what conferences are about, right? But when it came to writing some thing up, becoming a “published” academic, and while it would have helped my career as far as the faculty were concerned, it just didn’t sit right. It didn’t fit into my schedule, and it didn’t gel with what I was teaching or what I understood of the way students are learning. And it’s one of the the reasons I started this blog – here is where I can draw links, I can make notes, I can highlight, what is happening in Translation and Technology. The subject is moving too fast and furiously to wait for a journal to accept a paper and print it six months later – by then it’s old news.

I accept that my writing isn’t as amazing, thought provoking or have the intellectual rigour of a published article in the traditional sense, but by writing here I get better at writing itself, and in the meantime, I stay contemporary – something that my more eloquent peers will miss out on if they are not careful.

The article I link to above is instructive – like Vishad, I don’t need the academy. I’m a consultant and sysadmin that can make a living doing those things, I’ve no need for a PhD, the histrionics surrounding one, or a career in the academy.

If you are looking for somewhere easy to start on this topic, I recommend Steve Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You. I read his Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software way back in the early noughties, which along with Bey‘s Temporary Autonomous Zones, greatly influenced how I think today.