If it needs to be said, Jeff’s post on professional ethos in the age of the network is well worth reading. Here’s a teaser:

In this long analogy, my purpose here is to draw attention to an aspect of identity often ignored at the professorial and, consequently, disciplinary level, but that is prompted by my initial anecdote. What is the identity of academic work in the age of the network? More specifically, what is the identity of my own discipline, English Studies, in the age of the network? Like my anecdote of the Zappa poster, English, too, struggles with the frisson of its own identity. The fixed perspective the discipline has of itself is hermeneutical study. This study is fixed on the discussion and analysis of stories, poems, plays, films, cultural moments, documents, politics, and ethnicity. While I have no objection to such objects of study, the ethos of this work has greatly eroded within the profession itself even as the profession projects this self-styled image. As most of us have known for some time, there are not enough tenure track jobs in English for those who have based their professional identity on this occupation or, for the most part, these areas of study within English. I don’t want to rehash the arguments already in circulation about the awful state of English Studies and the job market. Instead, I note that what English faces is no different than what a status update on Facebook faces or a poster on an office wall faces when not treated as part of a network. Without the ability to be traced within a larger network of meaning, the identity of the object will be read in a brief and fixed manner. Those who choose to occupy that identity, too, become fixed in an identity that resists belonging within a larger set of meanings and identities. Ethos, then, suffers. [Read more.]