This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Academic home pages are not interesting

Matthias Melcher at x28's blog points to an academic piece by L. Thoms & M. Thelwall, Academic home pages: Reconstruction of the self at First Monday.  The main finding of the research seemed far too obvious for me.  I don't think academic websites are supposed to be terribly interesting either.

Previous literature within the postmodern movement typically finds the Internet to be a tool for surveillance and restriction. This is particularly identified in the personal homepages of academics, where the university is considered to marginalise staff through the coercive governing of their identity construction. ... A typology of homepages and hence identities of academics is proposed based on the Web sites examined, concluding that whether the homepage is constructed by the academic or by the university, the identities of the individual are ultimately lost to the governmentality of the university.

The reason this doesn't surprise me is that academics aren't particularly interested in maintaining their academic web pages.  They are merely electronic versions of their curriculum vitae, and as such aren't expected to have much in the way of personality.  Those academics who do put effort into their websites are in the minority. 

There is something to be said for the "loss of identity" in these pages, as they are all built from the same template (within a department).  But, since these aren't high priority activities for most academics, they don't intend to put any personality into their pages.  That said, I ran into some trouble in 1995 when a faculty member stumbled upon my student page and thought it was unprofessional (it was) and complained about it being linked to the department page.  The webmaster removed the link: I wasn't planning on changing my website at the time.

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