This post won’t have much medieval in it, I’m afraid, and will likely have a lot of stream-of-consciousness to it (can’t say for sure at the time of this first line – I’ll know better once I finish think-typing). I read two interesting articles recently. In Speculum Alex J. Novikoff discusses Lanfranc, Anselm and the monastery of Bec and how they influenced intellectual thought and, specifically, the rise of scholarly dispute as a source of philosophical and intellectual inquiry. 1 This is a very interesting article and one which fits in well with a paper by Justin Lake I heard at Kalamazoo last year, but it’s not a topic I know much about, certainly not enough to comment. As an aside, I should thank the Medieval Academy for continuing to send me Speculum even though I chose not to renew my membership this year.
The May edition of EME is out with an article by Levi Roach on evidence for ritual in late Anglo-Saxon diplomas. 2 Again, interesting stuff but not something I’m qualified to discuss.
What did interest me is this notice on the Wiley online EME page: “Early Medieval Europe has now adopted ScholarOne Manuscripts, for online manuscript submission and peer review.” I don’t believe I’ve seen this before from them.
This is a good thing. It’s 21st century, greener (probably), certainly quicker and, if the site gives you a receipt, means things won’t be lost in the mail when those pesky international address codes trip you up (or when mail delivery does the tripping). I’ve often wondered why the exhibit (AKA book) hall at The International Congress for Medieval Studies isn’t wired so we can pay for books electronically. You can use CC, they just pull out the old 5-lb machine and mechanically swipe your card, complete with a paper copy. Old School. And definitely not greener. I’ve often thought a nice way for me to actually stay within a budget would be to put so much money on my debit card, pay for books that way, and when the card tells me (and the vendor) that I’ve used up my allowance, I can quit. I’m disregarding the fact (and based on my personal history it is a fact) that I would then pull out a CC and pay for it and all subsequent purchases that way. I’ve heard of people with a gambling addiction. I’ve never had that problem but when it comes to books, well, let’s just say that Kalamazoo is my Vegas.
Back to the point of this post, if there is a point (see what happens with stream-of-consciousness? Maybe I should just title this post, “Dear Diary”), ten years or so ago when I worked with younger folks I was interested in studies which showed that kids who spent substantial time using computers from an early age showed minute changes in brain development when compared with those of us who spent our early years looking at paper. At the time, the research didn’t feel these changes were good or bad, just different. The studies (this is long enough in “the ago” that I can’t cite anything, sorry) postulated that for the rest of their lives these kids would be better able to absorb and process information they found on a computer screen than us dinosaurs. Conversely, dinosaurs would always have an advantage with paper. And I am a dinosaur – my first ever use of a computer was using Basic in college and I was a member of the last class at Cornell to use punch cards in our computer class (PLC/PL1, IIRC). To this day I steer clear of electronic reading devices such as Kindle and Nook and if I read an article online that interests me, not only do I save it to my PC but I print it off to read more closely.
Now that I’ve vaguely wandered all over, even into brain development, my point is that electronic submission can be a good thing, so long as it remembers us dinosaurs. I’ve had to submit things where the site had messages such as,
You are not able to save your work on this site. Do not begin entry until you are able to submit. Clicking the “save” button will irrevocably commit you to fulfilling requirements which may be grammatically and, possibly, even logically incorrect.
Or something like that.
They’ve gotten better at it. I recently (due March 15) submitted an abstract to present a paper at a national conference where you could save your work and were instructed not to submit until you were sure you had your act together. I’m not sure if it held your hand enough to where it would tell you if you exceeded the 250-word limit. However it still had two flaws. First, it did not give me a receipt on submission – I have nothing except my good name to wave around if, three weeks before the conference I ask someone, “What did you think of my proposal?” and get a response, “What proposal?” The second, probably less critical, is it did not offer me an option to view my proposal as it would appear to a reviewer. I could (and did) save it to a Word document but the dinosaur in me always wants to know how what I write, however small, will look in print. I like the little “view” option even though I can do that myself through copy/paste/PDF-it.
Electronic submissions are a good thing but folks need to make sure they’re set up correctly. For me, electronic submissions are less “green” than you may imagine because I end up with multiple drafts and print each one off to examine for content and style (readers are by this time likely wishing I’d done the same for this post). And you absolutely need a receipt system. I have no idea what the EME system includes. I have not and will in all probability never submit to them. Maybe it has all this but in case someone involved in electronic submissions (for EME or anyone) runs across this post, please make sure the process isn’t simple just for the submittee, but for the submittor.
As for my proposal, haven’t heard a thing, not even an e-mail that the committee has received it. I’d like to find out. For one thing, if it’s accepted, all my expenses will be paid by an organization. If not I have to start begging from multiple folks (I’m sort of locked into going since I volunteered to staff a booth for a couple of shifts). Begging is best done early, before budgets run out. Also, the conference is in early August, less than 4 months from now. It won’t be long before that turns into “next week” and while I know my topic, it would be nice to be working on the presentation now in my spare time.
1 Alex J. Novikoff, “Anselm, Dialogue, and the Rise of Scholastic Disputation,” Speculum 86 (2011), 387-418.
2 Levi Roach, “Public rites and public wrongs: ritual aspects of diplomas in tenth- and eleventh-century England,” Early Medieval Europe 19 (2011), 182-203.