Post #002: Academic values in the era of digital impressionism

London, December 31, 2016

The Royal Numismatic Society (RNS) was founded 180 years ago, in 1836, as “The Numismatic Society of London” [1]. It is one of the very few societies that were founded and continue to literally function (with their problems and necessary reforms) as “scholarly” societies – as associations devoted to the advancement of the field they claim to serve and honour, and not as excuses for CV enhancing activities for their Members or Fellows. As a Fellow of the RNS, I thoroughly enjoy receiving and reading the hardbound annual volume of The Numismatic Chronicle [2], at the end of which a neat and consistent description of the Society’s activities (Annual Report) was provided until 2012 [3]; activities that serve the same core academic values that led to its foundation.

While this eventful year (2016) comes to its end, one wonders about the extent to which we – the Western world – are interested in preserving such values, either within our universities or through the established learned societies. Is there space for academic values to flourish or even survive in an era where digital impressionism dominates a large part of our communication? Is there a viable “market” – if I may say – for activities that do not ride the wave of digitalization, metrics, impact factors or social media-assisted dissemination, but serve the core values of academic life? Is there a viable “market” for the maintenance and study of academic tradition? Is there enough interest for the funding and the subsequent undertaking of serious historical research, reliable authorship, mentorship or findings-driven scholarship? Are we genuinely interested in what our colleagues have to say, in sharing our knowledge and maintaining meaningful academic dialogues with our peers?

My belief is that the current environment of digital verbalism neither discourages the preserving of academic values, nor is an excuse for those of us interested in these values to not pursue activities that would enrich the academic tradition of the generations of scholars to come. What we witness is merely a reflection of the way our world tries to adapt – immaturely and within an unregulated setting – to the technological advancements offered. Time will teach us how to tame these technologies at both a legal and a personal level. However, until then, we should understand that our constantly expanding digital capabilities provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to maintain, deepen and enrich our scholarly activities; an opportunity that could lead to the delivery of thriving results, if our academic values are served in an uncompromised manner.

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Notes: [1]: Carson RAG. A History of the Royal Numismatic Society, 1836-1986. Royal Numismatic Society, London, 1986; [2]: the journal of the RNS; [3]: since 2012, all Annual Reports of the RNS are published online in the society’s website.

Citation: Zarros A. Post #002: Academic values in the era of digital impressionism. azarros.info/blog 2016; 31-Dec.