Tags: The best disinfectant, Kremlinology, Sour Grapes 2.0, ignoring Ralph’s pleas.
Hello, world. I’m still in the thick of grading, and so I’ve been studiously ignoring Ralph’s pleas to post to a certain “group blog,” on which I am ostensibly a “contributor.” Even more studiously than usual, I mean.
But this just came across the transom, and it seems like the sort of thing that everybody is about to know about very soon (where “everybody” means “that weird and tiny subset of people who knows and cares about the academic job market”) . Or maybe those of you on the job market know about it already, but it was news to me: the Academic Careers Wiki. Who is interviewing, who is hiring, who has sent out rejection letters, who got rejected by their candidates, and who got the job you didn’t get. This is not H-Net. This is not where you go to find out what jobs you ought to apply for. It is where you go after you’ve applied, in order to vent, fret, dig up dirt, preen, spill beans, share gossip, and find out why oh why they didn’t choose you.
This strikes me as possibly frightening to some and addictive to others. You might have to dig around the wiki a bit to get a feel for why. Here’s the list of current U.S. History searches. Scroll down to the University of Chicago’s 19th Century search to see how much detail some of these entries go into. Here’s a page linking to all the current History searches. All in the fluid, caveat lector, “nobody’s in charge here” state that is essential to the Wiki format.
What happens when you harness the collective gossip power / angst / desperation of thousands of job-hungry PhDs? When you take the kind of post-rejection Kremlinology and sour grapes that we all engage(d) in during our job hunts and wiki-fy it? It is, potentially, a lot more powerful than wistful First Person columns in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. There’s room for all sorts of hurt feelings here, not to mention breaches of confidentiality and professional conduct. But there’s also potential to shine some badly-needed light on a process often conducted in conditions of extreme ignorance and fear. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Louis Brandeis. Let the sun shine in.