With this blog entry, I announce a new project, a new (for me) undertaking in digital scholarship and professional development. In short, I have created a website, www.thevideogametext.com, where I will be publishing my dissertation in serial form. I’m doing this to put my work in front of a wider audience and, hopefully, attract the interest of a publisher as I seek to to turn this into a monograph. In other words, this project is also a book proposal, and even if it never turns into a “real” book, or even something book-shaped, I’m confident that the process will have its own merits. The website also contains a blog where I plan to reflect on the whole project, since to me, the process of developing something like this is often more valuable or interesting than the product.
I mean, the whole idea of a dissertation as some kind of gatekeeping exercise is a little annoying to me — if a dissertation really is a valuable and original piece of scholarship, then it should be widely read and disseminated, but most aren’t. And even those that are digital aren’t read that much. I mean, I don’t read them unless I’m really really motivated for some reason. Let’s be honest, it’s not much fun to read a 300-page PDF. So this project aims to get my dissertation (which, by the way, I defended in 2008) into a granular form that more people will actually read and, hopefully, comment on.
In addition to some of the practical goals of this project (which I summarize in my introductory blog post), there are of course some critical issues at stake here. The state of the academic publishing industry is increasingly precarious, it seems, so the idea that a single-author scholarly monograph is a stepping stone to tenure is a little problematic. So even though that’s what I’m ultimately aiming for with this project, it’s my hope that the kind of work I’m preparing — a digital resource structured around a substantive body of scholarship — can gain the same kind of leverage as the kind of book that consumes paper and ink.
Please have a look at the site, and let me know what you think. It probably makes sense to start with the Blog, or at the beginning of the text. I know there are some rough spots in the design, but feel free to point them out to me anyway. Similarly, please feel free to suggest features I might add to make the site easier to use. I’m using Drupal (of course) so I have a lot of flexibility in organization. I’m trying a three-channel approach (Blog, Text, Proposal), which I know runs the risk of being disorienting. Let me know how it goes.