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Thread: SWJ: praise given and reviews (merged)

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default SWJ: praise given and reviews (merged)

    We needed that boost - if only to keep us sane.

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    Default Observations on Timeliness from the Small Wars Manual

    From Herschel Smith at The Captain's Journal blog - Observations on Timeliness from the Small Wars Manual.

    Remaining highly recommended is the Marine Corps Small Wars Manual (large PDF document). The war in Afghanistan is more than 4.5 years old, and the war in Iraq is about 3.5 years old. The SWM has something to way about timeliness that will edify and enrich our understanding of the various blunders that have been made in these wars so far. By way of editorial note, I would comment that there seems to be an undercurrent among supporters of the war(s) that is unhealthy and unproductive for the prospective of evolution in our doctrine, strategy and tactics based on our mistakes. Analysis, assessment and constructive criticism are generally taken to be opposition to the war or to our warriors. To be seen as patriotic and supportive of our troops, one almost has to be jingoistic. This is not a mature attitude, but more importantly, it is not supportive of the necessary changes that will mark the future of warfare and thus the warriors who will be participating in those wars...

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    Default SWJ model the future of academic literature

    Huge props to you guys from Kent's Imperative:

    The new generation of virtual institutions we hope will also be a catalyst for the greater involvement of intelligence professions in the development of the literature in a form that can be shared more widely with the academia as a whole. We firmly believe that publication models such as Small Wars Journal will be the future of the literature. We have also already seen the impact of the virtual on the traditional, as the editorship of the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence passed to Richard Valcourt of American Military University. No doubt we shall see other similar effects in the near future, and look forward to the improvement of the literature.

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    Default Actually...

    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Huge props to you guys from Kent's Imperative:
    ... the props belong to the Council and its members in many cases where SWJ is mentioned in stories and posts.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    First,

    Nothing but props for SWJ - performs a valuable service very, very, well.

    Calling it a model the future of academic publishing is a stretch - unless we put some real rigorous peer review standards in place beyond the current forums. The key with academic journals is that submissions get reviewed by vetted experts in the field prior to publishing for accuracy of content and method.

    For freewheeling, thought provoking, interactive discussion and debate, it's the right place.
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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    I think there are a combination of things that point to SWJ (not sure I think there are any like it) as a strong candidate for the future:

    1) Its appeal to a multi-discipline audience that is generally literate on the topic they choose to read and discuss (or at least interested in learning). With respect to the SWJ's chosen topic - this wide audience is particularly relevant.

    2) Its primary accessibility by those with an ISP + the ability to copy, paste, print or send posts, articles, etc. around. While "hardcopy" is a wonderful thing, if that is a sole medium of distribution its more limited to choices made about what content it will have, who it will publish, and where it will be distributed (and as such a slower circulation of ideas).

    3) Its ability as a forum to build around points 1 & 2 and create additional knowledge around new and existing content. This is done quickly while the issue is still relevant. This is huge - it flattens the learning curve in ways that are often hard to account for. It is the assimilation of ideas in ways that are user friendly to the tasks at hand. It is a combination of answering the "so what" and "how can I". The participants care little about being credited, only that the service is rendered. Generally I've seen the authors of pieces more then willing to interact with the community.

    I could add that it has a pretty inclusive feel - meaning newcomers are welcomed until they demonstrate a reason why they should not be - even then they are usually given several chances.

    Neil brings up an interesting point about academic standards, that may depend on who sets the academic standards. What I mean is how involved is the reader in setting the standard vs. the publisher? If the reader is more literate on the subject - meaning in this case the SWC being the "body" that judges vs. just an academic editor who might be well educated to look for errors IAW one of the style manuals - then whose standards are higher in terms of judging value?

    While the editor of a publication must use some decision criteria to decide what goes in a defined volume from month to month or quarter to quarter - how is that different from the way an online pub like SWJ is set to take advantage of new information quickly?

    I still see a place for hard copy only publications (to include those with an online version), but I prefer to view the relationship as complimentary - not competitive. If I had to choose just one though - I'd go with SWJ - or its future cousins.

    Best, Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    Calling it a model the future of academic publishing is a stretch - unless we put some real rigorous peer review standards in place beyond the current forums. The key with academic journals is that submissions get reviewed by vetted experts in the field prior to publishing for accuracy of content and method.
    In addition, it will depend on whether academic institutions will decide to allocate any professional value to online publishing, blogging, forum moderation, etc. At the moment, they usually count for somewhere between "very little" and "nothing" for salary and promotion purposes.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    First,

    Nothing but props for SWJ - performs a valuable service very, very, well.

    Calling it a model the future of academic publishing is a stretch - unless we put some real rigorous peer review standards in place beyond the current forums. The key with academic journals is that submissions get reviewed by vetted experts in the field prior to publishing for accuracy of content and method.

    For freewheeling, thought provoking, interactive discussion and debate, it's the right place.
    We do have a peer review system for journal articles, although it's more on the line of what academic history journals use vice the scientific ones. Having had a couple of things published in the academic line (history), I can say that our process is at least as good as the one I dealt with. Not saying we can't always get better, mind, but I also didn't want folks to think that we don't have a peer review process in place.
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    First,

    Nothing but props for SWJ - performs a valuable service very, very, well.

    Calling it a model the future of academic publishing is a stretch - unless we put some real rigorous peer review standards in place beyond the current forums. The key with academic journals is that submissions get reviewed by vetted experts in the field prior to publishing for accuracy of content and method.

    For freewheeling, thought provoking, interactive discussion and debate, it's the right place.
    Could not agree more strongly. I find SWJ a constant source of inspiration and the gold standard of informed scepticism to run ideas around in. Most of the progress my thinking has made in the last year is directly attributable to SWJ.

    ...but it's not the equivalent, or substitute for a peer reviewed academic or professional journal, and should not be regarded as such.

    SWJ is the mule I took on 27 campaigns, not the fine horse I ride in parades to impress chicks.
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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Right now, I'm working on a historical perspective and qualitative discussion of forecasting outcomes for a bunch of computer folks. I'm citing SWC as an example of the emerging model of decentralized, collaborative approaches to anticipating outcomes. The speed and adaptiblity of this framework (with the right participants) is mind-boggling.

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    I also think it's important to remember the distinction between the actual Journal and the Council. The forum itself is pretty freewheeling (less than many, but better than some), and that's where reaction to articles often surfaces. The Journal itself is something different, as is the blog. They do form a united whole, but you need to remember the different aspects of each part of that whole.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I also think it's important to remember the distinction between the actual Journal and the Council. The forum itself is pretty freewheeling (less than many, but better than some), and that's where reaction to articles often surfaces. The Journal itself is something different, as is the blog. They do form a united whole, but you need to remember the different aspects of each part of that whole.
    Concur. In that regard, my previous comments were perhaps unfair. I still the "whole" is a wonderful thing.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Rex may have hit the bottom line to some degree with

    "At the moment, they usually count for somewhere between "very little" and "nothing" for salary and promotion purposes."
    However, does that risk being relevant to only a contained community? Its not just academics, it could be any community that has perhaps intentionally or unitentionally isolated itself.

    Best, Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Rex may have hit the bottom line to some degree with



    However, does that risk being relevant to only a contained community? Its not just academics, it could be any community that has perhaps intentionally or unitentionally isolated itself.

    Best, Rob
    Just look at journalism, which scoffed and laughed at blogs and the online community. I agree with Rex for the here-and-now, but my sense is that academia is going to change, whether it wants to or not.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Just look at journalism, which scoffed and laughed at blogs and the online community. I agree with Rex for the here-and-now, but my sense is that academia is going to change, whether it wants to or not.
    Academia, as with all dinosaurs, is changing, just slowly. A lot of the reason, I suspect, why blogs are not de rigeur with academia is that it is relatively hard to place specific status on them.
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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Academia, as with all dinosaurs, is changing, just slowly. A lot of the reason, I suspect, why blogs are not de rigeur with academia is that it is relatively hard to place specific status on them.
    My University this year invested in a Wordpress blog server (not-insubstantial) and we stumbled across some intellectual property issues. After that I think blogging will become more mainstream. They really want to figure out what it means and are coming around. The door opening came not from the academic units but from the public relations people.
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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Well, here was an interesting post over at open anthropology on Anthropology blogs in Canada. One of the things that comes out n the comments is the role of the blog - personal, w/academic hat on; or "academic".

    At my university, I am the only Anthropologist blogging as an Anthropologist. My Dean blogs on the university server, but I have a suspicion that it is solely in the role of floating ideas before implementing policies (okay, I'm suspicious ). No one else in my Institute blogs, although I really wish they would (some truly amazing work being done there!). But, currently, here is no recognition of blogging as "real" academic work.
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    Let's not forget that the SWC underwent a not so insignificant realignment a while back that brought it to the degree of detail that it offers now. SWCADMIN likes to refer to the content as "containers" on occasion. He realized that those containers had to change a bit, and we arguably saw a broadening of membership and discussion participants as a result.

    I think the mods spent a considerable amount of time shifting threads, both old and new, in the ensuing months. Everyone caught on very quickly and I don't think I've heard a comment bout layout or flow in quite a while.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-26-2008 at 07:58 AM.

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    Default Maybe not academic literature, but...

    I think that the SWJ site (the collective whole of the Journal, Blog, Discussion Forum and reference areas) is a good way to actually structure a matrixed and dispersed (maybe virtual) organization.
    In the military, there is a plethora of "Centers of Excellence" being created. Beyond the usual jokes about the name, the attempt is being made to gather the threads of some critical warfighting mission, capability, aspect, etc. and create a focal point to facilitate organizing the knowledge in hopes of better dissemination (education and training) and being the advocate for new/better ideas and systems.
    I've heard a couple of business presentations and one thing that sticks out is the contention that it is easier to organize around the software than to make the software adapt to a pre-determined organization. I think that the SWJ site could be a model for similar official sites to provide a focal point to discuss and assist in knowledge dissemination, etc. Sort of like what COEs are attempting to do.
    As to blogging specifically, as a planner (experience at MEF, JTF, MNF-I and Fleet levels), I think that the discussion board and blog are a great model for managing deliberate planning efforts. Current Ops folks use chat rooms to coordinate in real time. Planners, especially at the higher echelons, don't need that immediate real time response, but need to handle and track multiple issues over the course of time. I could easily see an effort involving multiple HQs organzing the planning around a discussion board type organization.
    The problem I have had in trying to implement this is that the military is more comfortable in trying to use email for this purpose, or to just post things in folders on websites. I think this idea will take off more as the younger generation who are growing up with it "come of age" into the field grade ranks (if they choose to stay past Captain).

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    Default Ongoing Information Management Efforts

    PhilR--
    I've just GOT to get you involved with the Lejeune Leadership Institute because we use BlackBoard as the collaborative medium. Right now, most people use the discussion threads (much like the ones here, but not as aesthetically pleasing!), but there's blogs, announcements, and WIKIS!!!! (the latter I REALLY for batting around definitions, publication paragraphs/pages, etc).

    Have to agree with everything you say--I'm just looking for a model to show people. I'm even feeling cramped in SWJ--why don't we have podcast capability? Now there's an idea...I'd like to get my journal mag in podcast form (that's how I get my wargame news already--on the computer or on my iPod when working out)...there's five wargamer podcasts I listen to...

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