Do we (still) need journals?
“Journals? Who cares?” anthropologist George Marcus said recently. Journals as we know them are a thing of the past, and the last to understand this fact are universities and academics, philosopher Mark C. Taylor says in an interview with E. Efe Çakmak in the new Eurozine issue:
For the most part, presses and journals as they now exist do not serve the interests of intellectual or cultural development. To the contrary, their proliferation is symptomatic of increasing hyper-specialization in which there is more and more about less and less. This is going in the opposite direction of history, in which there is increasing interconnectedness.
So my advice is to forget journals – I no longer read any academic journals and I stopped publishing in them years ago. The only function presses and journals serve is to authorize those who write for them among a dwindling group of peers. If ideas are to matter – and I believe it is crucial that they do – we must completely change the way in which they are communicated.
Taylor is critical of the “tyranny of the word":
What I want to stress is that language in today’s world is not primarily verbal but is, more importantly, visual. The problem is that we are visually illiterate – and nowhere is this more evident than in the university. In the “real” world, image trumps word every time; in the academic world, word represses image all the time.
If communication is going to become effective on a global scale, we must liberate the image from the tyranny of the word. This does not mean giving up reading and writing as they have been known in the past. But it is no longer enough. The multilingualism of young people today is multimedia. If we do not learn to communicate in this language, we will have nothing to say.