The rationale for posting academic drafts

I am a great believer in collaborative thought.  I wonder if to adjectivise thought in such a way is to accept – even concede – that there is a thought which is not collaborative, and therefore to commit a grave error of concept.

I have just opened an account on Academia.edu, a social-networking site with serious if online ambitions for academics – both recent as well as long-lived (the word ancient came briefly to mind, but quickly retreated from my digital pen.  Though not quickly enough to not mention the fact …).

My profile, which is located under the Liverpool John Moores University minisite – the university where I studied my recent MA in Criminal Justice – now has, at the time of writing this post anyway, two assignments I wrote for the MA, and which I have chosen to define as drafts.  (I intend to post my dissertation too, though without its 14 MB of appendices, once the final mark is approved.)

The first draft already online is about a curious case of missing counter-surveillance ideology.  The second is about an equally curious example of how mental-health legislation may have been used for criminal justice ends.

Academically, there is no choice here: they are not published.  They cannot be anything but drafts in the institutional context to hand.  You might ask why, then, I have decided to post them.

It is not out of a desire to make a splash – or at least not any more.  I have overcome this need.  Rather, it is because I believe in those essentially collaborative thought processes.  And I realise, after the MA and this past year, that I have morphed into a philosopher with research bells and whistles, rather than a researcher with a touch of philosopher.

In the sense of such philosophy, everything that we create is a draft.  And if of sufficient interest, it deserves to be reworked by others.

A couple of days after registering at Academia.edu, I was informed automagically that I had been mentioned in five papers.  All five were versions of – or touched on in some way – Lawrence Lessig’s book “Free Culture”.  I appear in the acknowledgements.  This book values the freedom of thought’s exchange.  So do I.  And by posting my work in early forms, I hope to prove this by my example.

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