There’s an interesting post in the WorldWise blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Power of Blogs in Forming New Fields of International Study.” It is written by Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, in England. Thrift has a particular interest in an emerging field of study called speculative realism, and he attributes its rise, in part at least, to communication in online communities.
The vice-chancellor identifies blogs as a primary vehicle for scholarly exchange in the emergence of speculative realism for these reasons:
First, they are a key preserve of particular communities like postgraduates and early career researchers, not least because so much activity can go on below the radar, so to speak, outside the attention of the kind of disciplinary policing that journals and other institutions tend to impose.
Second, they are a means for established figures to communicate in a different and more immediate register and often to become more prominent more quickly than might otherwise be the case.
Third, they are a much easier means of importing material from other disciplines, in ways which might be frowned upon if the material was to appear in formal outlets. ...snip…
Fourth, they allow all manner of researchers to communicate with each other, establish reading groups and the like, often concerning intellectual alleyways which might prove of the greatest importance. There is real debate.
Fifth, new material reaches an audience much more rapidly than it would through the normal means of communication.
Climate adaptation is an emergent interdisciplinary field that has the potential to grow in this manner – through informal, international discourse that is then used as the basis for more formal research and peer-reviewed publication.