Cornelius Puschmann is acting professor of communication science at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen and research associate at the Institute for “Informations- und Bibliothekswissenschaft” (IBI) at the Humboldt University Berlin. His interests cover computer-mediated communication, open science, ethnic and methodical questions around the use of data in the humanities.
Hybrid Publishing Lab: At the Humboldt University you are leading a DFG project that deals with informal digital communications between scientists. What motivates academics to use these forms of communication?
Cornelius Puschmann: Many scholars don’t use social media and are quite skeptical of it. Tools such as blogs and Twitter are more popular in some fields than in others, and national usage patterns and personal preferences also vary. For example, in law, blogs play a more important role than in many other fields, and in the U.S. Twitter is much more popular than in Germany. So disciplinary and national usage patterns have a significant impact, in addition to personal attitudes.
Individually, many scholars are motivated to use social media because they like to experiment, or because they believe that they can communicate more effectively through social media than they can without. On the other hand, using these tools costs time and there is a widespread fear of being distracted from more relevant forms of communication.
HPL: Do online communication processes change scholarly publishing, too?
Puschmann: Only in specific, mostly technical ways. There is a widespread desire to speed up certain aspects of the publication process, for example through ‘online-first’ schemes in which papers are available online as soon as they have passed peer review, rather than waiting for the scheduled publication of a journal issue or book. Core properties, such as peer review, remain relatively unaffected, however.
HPL: For your PhD, you researched the topic of the company-blog as a new form of text. What surprised you in your findings?
Puschmann: I was surprised by the difficulty of combining successful organizational communication with something als personal as blogging. Companies are often criticized for their impersonal style of communication, but it is extremely difficult to both strategically plan communication and employ a more individual style.
HPL: Which book will you always have as an analogue copy in your bookshelf?
Puschmann: I hardly use printed books anymore, at least for work. I have just moved into a new office, and I wonder about what I should do with the bookshelves.