Also Looking for Wanna-Be Philosophy Journalists

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I received such a response to my post on needing helpers for Not School that I thought I should go ahead and express this need as well:

I’ve long envisioned this blog as fulfilling two purposes beyond being just a communications platform for announcements about the podcast: First, for every episode, I’d like to have several posts up in the subsequent days/weeks pointing people at relevant videos, articles, quotes of tricky passages from the text to consider and questions to encourage follow-up discussion (PEL’s Notes), etc. This can include synopses of works related to the one we covered, lectures on YouTube and iTunes U, etc.

Second, I’d like to have an eye on philosophy-related news to be able to post a link and synopsis to, e.g. articles on new books by major philosophy authors that come out, big events that we should all know about, etc. Regarding both of these tasks, I’ve found my time to be more limited than I’d like, and that goes double for the other podcasters.

I have in the past announced on the podcast a call for people to help us blog, but found that most of the takers to that author were people that just wanted to write original philosophy and expose it to the public, which is really not what this blog (or any “blog,” I think) is supposed to do. While I or one of the other podcasters may get away with some original flight of fancy from time to time, we can only do that because we’re trading on the familiarity of you the readers with our specific voices already, and a guest blogger is not going to have that advantage.

That said, I’m sure that there are lots of experienced philosophy folks with solid writing chops out there that are involved enough with this podcast that they might like writing, say, one short article per episode (on most episodes) presenting a secondary source (some of our past podcast guests like Daniel Horne and David Buchanan do this kind of thing for us very well), and/or keeping up with philosophy news and writing on that for us. If so, contact me at mark@partiallyexaminedlife.com and we’ll get you set up to write something whenever works for you. Note that we don’t just need hyperlinks sent to us (we get plenty of those); the issue is having time to actually look at the articles or videos linked to and write a couple-paragraph introduction (see OpenCulture.com for lots of good examples of this). For writers that establish themselves as polished and consistent, small amounts of money may change hands as the blog grows.

-Mark Linsenmayer

Comments

  1. jimena

    January 20, 2013

    Hello:

    I saw your post, and already sent you a reply, now that I’m seeing the information you need to the blog, I confirm myself to be useful to write in the blog about philosophy.

    Cheers.

    JIMENA CASILLAS C

  2. Paul Paolini

    January 20, 2013

    Mark,

    >I have in the past announced on the podcast a call for people to help us blog, but found that most of the takers to that [offer] were people [who] just wanted to write original philosophy and expose it to the public, which is really not what this blog (or any “blog,” I think) is supposed to do.<

    I can understand how you wouldn't want random philosophical treatises posted on the PEL blog, but I find the suggestion that original philosophical writing is outside the scope of blogging puzzling, especially as that's the content of some of my favorite blogs. I don't see "blogging" as necessarily anything more specific than putting whatever writing one does on the web in a way that allows others to follow it. Please explain what you think a blog is supposed to do and why philosophical writing (alone?) violates that. I should mention that philosophical writing can be about cats or what one had for brunch ; )

    • Profile photo of Mark Linsenmayer

      Mark Linsenmayer

      January 21, 2013

      Hi, Paul,

      Perhaps my wording was too strong, and my thinking is certainly in progress about this. I’ll just say that if someone has established him or herself as a good writer and sufficiently involved with the PEL project via a series of posts of the sort I’ve described, and so has established some connection with PEL readers, then I’d be more open to original work. Likewise, if some particularly thought provoking original work were brought to my attention, I’d likely be happy to publish it. But we do not at this point have the manpower (meaning I don’t have the time) to read through a lot of original submissions, and I’m already uncomfortable with being in the position of having to cast judgment on others’ work and let them know when it it doesn’t strike me as well written enough for me to post. Thus the slant of this particular pitch.

      There is something to be said about presenting something like a coherent line of discussion through posts here, so I like when the various bloggers weigh in on the issues raised in the current episode, or alternately, as has happened a few times, when some theme builds among various blog posts by different writers. All that contributes to it not, as you say, coming across as random philosophical treatises, which folks can already find in spades with a simple web search.

      And yes, I am being a bit arbitrary in my opinions on the definition of “blog” in my original post. Blog posts, at least the way most people write them, don’t take a lot of time, and blog readers, like most web readers, tend to absorb them quickly. All this is somewhat antithetical to the time and care that actually producing some original work requires, I think. Even if we’re talking about a very concrete issue, like the ethics of abortion, one can probably quickly put together some pointers to existing literature and sum up the more prevalent arguments, but if you have an actually original argument about it, there’s likely a reason why it wasn’t properly considered in the past, and it’d require multiple pages to explain the flaw inherent in the current debate that would cause this novel solution to be overlooked. Folks that think they can articulate something totally awesome and profound in just a couple paragraphs are very likely writing awful philosophy; that has at least been my experience.

      • Paul Paolini

        January 21, 2013

        Thanks Mark. That clarifies it. I agree that good original philosophy is very unlikely to be contained in the sort of short regular posts that is the custom with blogs. This isn’t inconsistent with my point that a blog can be used to make serious short philosophical efforts available on the web.

  3. Tim Cox

    January 21, 2013

    Hi Mark,

    I’ve worked as an editor for the Australian sports website theroar.com.au. They have a publishing model similar to what you’re describing.

    The articles are crowd sourced, then minimally edited by lucky people like me (adding links in the right spots; correcting spelling and grammar; and making readable spacing of paragraphs – but leaving content as intended).

    There are several “expert” columnists on the payroll, some of them sports celebrities trying to get into sports journalism, others were hand-picked from the crowd of fans providing content.

    It works pretty well as a content model, but you’ll still have work to do editing the submissions, depending on how precious you are about content, and how much you trust the writers’ abilities. I could get through about 5 articles in half an hour of editing, on a good day.


    One question: what’s the policy on repeated content? I’m running a philosophy club on campus at a uni over here in Australia. I have just built a website for it, which will, itself want similar content. Do you have a problem if there is overlap? I guess I could just link to this site on that one…

    I’m not trying to fish for link exchange. I’m happy to link to this site, and link building is irrelevant for the private forum that I’m running.

    I thought I’d write this as a comment, rather than a private email, as it might be relevant for other people considering this. I think this would work if you delegated to multiple people, perhaps each with their own speciality. Philosophy is a pretty broad area, now that it’s been flattened.

    PS: thanks for making philosophy awesome again.

    Tim

    • Profile photo of Mark Linsenmayer

      Mark Linsenmayer

      January 21, 2013

      Hi, Tim, thanks for the reply. The model sounds promising, but due to the origin of this blog (the podcast), it’s necessarily going to remain less egalitarian than what you’re describing. I’d like the central focus of this blog to remain some coherent set of discussions focused around the podcast, so it would be great if, say, five people wanted to write something about the Gorgias over the next couple of weeks, and in particular seek out and write up annotated links to good books people can read about it, lectures posted online about it, and online essays on related topics (like rhetoric). Since we just read that, it’s much less trouble for us to edit material related to that than someone’s unrelated thoughts on ethics or politics or whatever.

      So that’s first priority, and second priority is bulking up on accounts of recent philosophy news events, and info on useful philosophy web resources that would be useful to listeners/readers. We get lots of these going up on the Facebook group, and that would be great here, but with a couple of well-written paragraphs added so that people can get a sense of it before deciding whether to click the link or not (and come away with something mildly useful even if they don’t). Publishing readers’ original treatises would be last priority, but again, if it’s truly awesome (by regular academic and publishing standards that I didn’t make up) and/or related to the current topic, then I’ll be happy to take a (brief) look at it to see if it’d be suitable.

      I don’t much see the point of repeating a full article here that’s elsewhere on the web. I’d much rather someone write up for us a paragraph synopsis of whatever it is that’s in this other location, add a quick visual from a Google Image search, and then just link to the original. However, if the idea is that you’re writing something for us and also want to put it on your own blog or elsewhere, I’m fine with that.

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