This is a satirical look at the divide between the “open” world of the Internet and the conventional “closed” world of many academic conferences.
Adobe is one of the most important and influential software companies in the world today. Whether you realize it or not, virtually everything that you see on the Internet was created by one Adobe product or another.
Academics, however, predominantly only use one Adobe product.
Adobe is of course most famous for Photoshop. But to make those photographs look really good, you need to know how to use Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge.
Vector graphics on web pages are produced with Adobe Illustrator.
For videos, Adobe Premiere Pro is the software of choice for millions, and Adobe After Effects makes it easy to incorporate all manner of effects and animations in videos.
For animations, however, one can also turn to more specific software programs like Adobe Animate or Adobe Character Animator.
For sound in videos or animations, there is then Adobe Audition.
And finally, to create a web page where your digital content is shared with the world, one can choose from Adobe Dreamweaver if one knows a bit about coding, or Adobe Muse for those who don’t, or Adobe Portfolio if one just wants to get a single page up on the Internet as quickly and easily as possible.
These tools are all essential today for producing digital content.
They are not, however, tools that are part of the everyday work of academics. For the majority of academics there is only one Adobe product that they use regularly, the Adobe Acrobat (pdf) Reader. And most academics rely on the free version of that software, which Adobe has recently discontinued its support for. . .
Like the millions of people in the world who use these tools every day to produce digital content, academics can get access to the entire suite of Adobe software programs for around $30 a month (they can actually get access for less with an educational discount).
But by and large they don’t.
And with each passing year the academic world drifts further away from the ever-evolving digital world that the rest of humankind participates in.
That’s a big problem.
It’s particularly a problem because students desperately need to know how to use these tools. However, given that many academics don’t use these tools, they also don’t teach their students to use these tools either.
While an established academic might be able to “ride out” the rest of his or her career as is, the young people in their classes and seminars definitely need to be adept at communicating in the digital world.
To be fair, I have come across some people who are attempting to help students learn to communicate in the digital age, but they are far and few between, and in the world of Asian Studies, I would argue that they have largely still yet to emerge.
This is a satirical look at academic culture in the digital age. But how much have we actually changed?
The failure of Asian Studies (and much of academia as a whole) to adapt to, and engage with, the digital revolution is not one that can be solved with academic ideas.
It’s a communication problem. We have to communicate in new ways.
The days of posting all kinds of information to social media or web pages and hoping that such information will attract an audience are over.
To be able to effectively communicate on the Internet today one has to provide content that has a focus and that represents one’s expertise, and that there is an audience for.
Having a Facebook account and posting information to it just doesn’t work anymore.
Ah the listserv. . . Yes, it was pretty cool in the 1990s. . . But now is another story.