Mutiny or bounty?

Wayne Bucklar, an ex-QUT academic, has taken it upon himself to establish new websites for all Australian academics, and then email us to tell us that we should go and correct them. As he says “It is incomplete and may well be out of date or even inaccurate”. Perhaps to prove that this isn’t false modesty, the website he’s created for me lists me as “Mr Andrew Bligh”.

Wayne’s rationale for establishing topacademic.org is:

Having been an academic, I understand that we are a highly mobile workforce and that as individuals, we are probably more closely aligned to our discipline than we are to our institutions. …

Some of us stay at one institution for many years while many of us move regularly either because we want to and enjoy new geography or because it’s the most viable pathway to promotion.  In any case, as the importance of the internet grows as a source of creditable information, the need for us to have at least our contact details able to be found in Google is of increasing value to us.  Having a resume on line is also useful if we are interesting in catching the eye of potential new employers, research collaborators, publishers or others within our professional sphere of activity.

My own view: there’s a small market failure here, but it’s so minimal that setting up a system of websites outside the existing university infrastructure is unlikely to succeed. A better solution would be for university IT departments to get better at passing websites across, so they don’t have to start from scratch when an academic moves from one place to another.

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4 Responses to Mutiny or bounty?

  1. Peter says:

    I don’t understand the problem here, but perhaps that’s because I’m in computer science. Surely, moving institutions would simply mean copying HTML (and related) files from a server on one system to a server on another (in the worst case, emailing them from your old system to your new).

    Or is this a problem only for those academics who don’t maintain their own web-pages – do such people still exist?

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    Peter, that’s what I’d do, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only economist at ANU who maintains my own website.

  3. Geoff R says:

    Most academics have staff profile webpages but few have webpages of their own. Universities are often suspicious of indivdual homepages which is silly. Deakin recently declared that staff can have no non-academic content on their homepages (if they chose to have them).

  4. maelorin says:

    I have no input into my official webpage at the moment, being a lowly tutor and prospective PhD candidate. I look forward to getting the keys to my identity. Perhaps next year.

    In the meantime, I will say that each university seems to have its own processes and protocols for staff pages. Some insist on compliance with a generic template. I know one had a draft policy that would have all but written your page for you. Uniformity under the guise of consistency appears to be a Big Deal at the moment. Lots of standardisation (instead of standards).

    I might try to squirrel some time away to do a survey of academic official webpages, and the policies and processes behind them. Unless someone has already done so. ICT processes and policies that I’ve experienced have tended to be conservative, particularly when it comes to letting the kiddies play under the hood.

    I’m currently trying to convert my brain from full-time lawyer to full-time information systems & information systems and media law academic-in-training. My personal blog has actually been of some assistance there.

    To address the question of “topacademic.org” – the website is a disaster.

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