稻草園

inthefieldsafterclass is about telling stories in a changing world of knowledge production-dissemination-consumption. By ‘stories’, I am not referring to literary fiction that feeds the soul or inspires the mind; although I wish I am capable of such brilliance. Perhaps one day I will try. Rather, I am merely telling one particular point of view of a real life story or an interpretation of a subject matter that have aroused my curiosity and therefore devoted time and resources to pursue this fascination. More important, I am merely trying to convey the stories of people who willingly shared their life experiences and aspirations with an inquisitive friend. I categorically profess NOT to produce a more convincing argument or better piece of work than anyone else. I only tell these stories from what I know and the materials I uncover; I might strike some sort of resonance with you the reader, or I might not. I could be wrong. If the latter is the case, hopefully we can learn something from the process of how I arrived at this particular interpretation of a story.

I like these stories to be freely, openly and readily accessible to a wider audience. These stories need not be told only through the exclusive conduits of academic publication or commercial press in the forms of peer reviewed journal papers and monographs. The online world has literally revolutionized knowledge production-dissemination-consumption. Remember how not too long ago academics, myself included, used to despise and pour scorn on references from online resources? Fast forward to 18 January 2012, the day ‘Internet stood still’ and ‘Wikipedia went dark’. Many in the world experienced a temporary ‘handicap’ in the knowledge department. The world never felt this way with the academia and its products, which is supposedly the heart of knowledge production and dissemination. Academics make fantastic analyses of social paradigmatic shifts on hindsight, but very seldom lead the charge. The present is no exception, we are the last to embrace the internet, the wikis and the social media revolution. To be modest, academics are not necessarily the most knowledgeable, objective or wise people in the world to be privileged as the only worthy appraisers of knowledge. Knowledge production-dissemination is our profession but we really do not know that much! Your constructive assessments and reviews put the stories here in context.

inthefieldsafterclass is about telling stories beyond the traditional medium of Text. We are ‘book people’, as one professor once told me. Some call us ‘book worms’. Text as that inscribed artifact of knowledge and wisdom, more specifically the paper print Text, is what we hold sacrosanct both as a product of our craft and source of wisdom. But Text in its traditional paper print form really has its limitations as a medium of knowledge production-dissemination-consumption. Not everyone writes, and not everyone who can, writes in English. This limitation prevents the very people we talk about in these stories, most of whom do not even know English, to project their own voices. They have to be represented through our writings. But we are really no simple, neutral conveyors. Furthermore, not everyone reads and not everyone who can, reads in English. This limitation restricts engagement with these materials. Who tries to pick up a book written in a language we do not even recognize? Text in the new media can be instantly, albeit mechanically, translated online. Though it does not capture the original meaning and feel, at least you know what that is all about. Without having to seek permission and incur further costs, Text in the new media can be quickly translated by ourselves or friends for consumption in another language. Linguistic difference and exclusiveness of literacy as walls of barriers are slowly hacked away in this online world of knowledge revolution. (In case you wonder, in places where people have no or limited access to the internet, it is just as highly unlikely that a traditionally published piece of work could find its way there.)

More importantly, words per se cannot replicate the colors of a Van Gogh or re-live the liberation of a Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker moment. In the days of old, some books come with a companion cassette tape or a compact disc, then later a CD-Rom or DVD-Rom. These are really ‘companion’ device, nothing is lost if you totally ignore these extraneous multimedia materials. Multimedia features can now be integrated in Digital publishing not merely as an optional companion feature, but as an integral component. If such multimedia integration allows us to literally insert the voices of those we claim to represent then let their voices come alive, as it is. There is no need to privilege our own name as ‘author’ for the sake of academic credits. Stories can and should be told in different forms and mediums. Only because now we can.

inthefieldsafterclass is about telling Stories beyond the realm of knowledge produced and consumed in the guild governed community of academia. A guild ensures standards within its membership community are maintained through apprenticeship, due diligence, rigor, and integrity. A guild also produce, within its own community, the mainstream, the norms, and an inexorable march of the conventional. In general, guilds maintain not revolutionize. In the academic guild of the social sciences and humanities, we have a group of professional observers and analysts – outsiders – laying claim as authority or makers of knowledge over the histories, sociological, anthropological, political…(the list goes on)… over the very people who live these lives – the insiders. I reckon this is a fair statement since knowledge production-dissemination is not their objective; it is ours. In the days of old, this rigid division of labor between the producers of knowledge and the people who live their lives (people we study) have professors trying to bring students to the field rather than rely on books per se; and for the more proactive ones, bring the peasants, engineers, officials, etc, into the classroom, thus inserting reality to theory. But bear in mind, these are no attempts to extend membership of the guild to non-academics. The rigid line of division remains. In today’s context, outside the realm of academic publication this rigid line of division has been effectively removed in the new media. The question here is if it even should have existed in the first place! You do not need a PhD to write a more didactic Wikipedia entry, and you do not need any form of qualification to write a blog entry or leave a comment. Your content speaks for itself. I cannot help but ask if there is a need for such rigidity of guild governance in knowledge production-dissemination-consumption? The guild of old has yet to re-define itself in a changing world of knowledge production-dissemination-consumption; and it may never, not without jeopardizing its self-ascribed privileges.

inthefieldsafterclass is merely just one of many entries out there. Nothing more.

Publication Schedule

Blog Entries

inthefieldsclass publishes every FIFTEEN days. It is a blog, so in this regular publication schedule I put out blog length entries of serialized research findings, book/visual/sound reviews, and ‘ponder-alouds’ of my research activities. These entries may come in the forms of Text, Podcast, Photo Essay, or Mini-Documentaries.

Research Papers/Book Chapters/Books

Every month, inthefieldsclass will publish a research essay length article or book chapter from my earlier or ongoing research projects. These are published with a Blog Entry and an attached PDF file for download. When necessary, I will also put together an iBook version that can be downloaded for free at Apple’s iBook Store. Please note that the iBook version can only be read on the iPad, at least until the people at Apple change their minds! When all the chapters for a book are published, I will republish these components into a complete book version (PDF file). Similarly, I will put up an iBook version as well.

Language

While I write mainly in English, I will try to put up entries written in Vietnamese or Mandarin Chinese as well. For the more lengthy publications, I will try to put up Mandarin Chinese and/or Vietnamese versions that I or my friends translate.

Guest Writers

Every now and then, I will feature entries or publish research papers written by my friends and collaborators, or coauthored by us. Entries/publications by guest writers may come in any language relevant to the topic or the language that the guest writer prefers.

One final request, please cite the entries and articles you read here if you use them. Thanks!

Comments

Needless to say, we welcome nice constructive comments! By contributing constructive comments, you play an important role to help make inthefieldsafterclass better and relevant. Please do note that being Nice and being Intelligent/Knowledgeable are NOT mutually exclusive traits. Similarly, being Critical or having Different viewpoints and being Nice are NOT mutually exclusive traits, too! Comments are moderated, so please be patient!

Since we publish inthefieldsafterclass with our real names, please leave comments with your real name, too! I understand this is a rather uncommon practice in the new media, but there is really nothing to hide on this occasion. Otherwise, I am afraid I cannot publish your comments.

You are welcome to leave comments in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Vietnamese. I will respond to them as soon as I can. However, if you leave comments in Thai, Laotian, French, Japanese, Burmese or Jingphaw (Kachin), it will take a while longer to moderate your comment. Again, please be patient!


 
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