[SIGCIS-Members] “Please Read the Article”? Please Cite Women Academics.

Jon Lindsay jonrlindsay at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 13:28:45 PST 2016

Thanks for posting this. I'm very glad to have the link to Schulte's
interesting article. Reading it side by side with Kaplan's piece raises a
few issues for me, however, about what sort of due diligence can be
reasonably expected in a diverse and fragmented field with intense policy

I review a lot of cybersecurity scholarship, most of it in the
international relations field but some elsewhere. I think scholars of all
stripes do a pretty poor job of covering the waterfront in their literature
reviews, yet I also have to temper my expectations given the extreme
multi-disciplinary nature of the topic. Adequate coverage of IR, law,
economics, computer science, mathematics, communications, STS, computer
history, etc. would require a book length essay. The new Journal of
Cybersecurity is a valiant effort to bring some of these fields together,
but it will be a while before we start seeing cross citations even in those
pages. This field has not settled into a stable set of debates and doesn't
have much of a cannon--I think the bibliometrics would show a pretty
diffuse web rather than a number of common core citations. There is a ton
of redundancy and wheel reinvention as different scholars in different
fields rediscover the paradoxes, puzzles, and exaggerations rife in

Despite years of work in this area, I am routinely surprised (or chagrined)
to discover important articles that have been out for a while. Not only had
I not heard of Schulte's article, I had not even heard of _Television and
New Media_. Maybe this is an important journal in communications, or maybe
it is obscure, I don't know. I do know that I have read articles by
communications scholars that make no mention to work in IR journals like
_Security Studies_ or _Journal of Strategic Studies_ that is germane to the
topic.Schulte, for example, makes no citation to the abundant work on
cybersecurity in the defence analysis community that covers her time
period; but then, why should she?  I am reticent to criticize since it is
hard enough to be thorough and up to date in one's own field, and maybe the
audiences do not overlap. Thus I tend to focus more on the logic of
arguments rather than the pedigree of argumentation, but I also realize
this is a peculiar bias of IR as opposed to, say, diplomatic history.

Given that scholars do a poor job getting outside their discipline, what
should be our standard for journalists? What citations should we expect in
their books, much less short form essays? What allowance should be made for
discoveries and interpretations that happen in parallel? I'm not sure the
"scoop" in scholarship or journalism has the same unified meaning when
audiences and sources are so fragmented and complex.

Going specifically to Kaplan and Schulte's texts, I don't really see the
overlap. Schulte is talking about the general cultural influence of
WarGames. It's not clear that she is making a causal argument that
policymakers were influenced by WarGames and made policy they would not
have, or whether WarGames just provided some instrumentally useful content
to discuss emerging security issues. Kaplan by contrast is talking about a
rather specific incident where Regan viewed the movie and asked a question,
and then about a specific policy document. Schulte mentions neither of
these. Kaplan's causal argument is also ambiguous, and he points to the
fact that the same individual was an influence in prior policy in this area
and the plot of WarGames. But Schulte doesn't talk about that either.
Kaplan, on the other hand, is not making the general cultural argument that
Schulte does, but is rather looking at the history of specific policies.
Even the side-by-side quotes that Meryl Alper pulls seem to me to be
talking about different things.

There is a family resemblance in that both are talking about the
relationship between WarGames and security policy. There is no doubt that
Kaplan's book would be enriched by a citation to Schulte's work. I also am
willing to bet that there are other authors that have linked the WarGames
meme to defense policy debates before Schulte--I'm thinking potentially of
Martin Libicki, but I would have to check. However, I don't see them as
similar enough to require any mutual citation, as nice as that might be,
and certainly not in Kaplan's short form essay. The spontaneous discovery
from different pathways is eminently plausible here, and, moreover, the
discoveries are in fact of a different quality.

Let me be clear, the Twitter exchange that followed is a different issue,
and Kaplan seems to merit some criticism there. I am just talking about the
two texts here, and the tenuous relationship between them. This does not
seem to be in the same category as the Medina-Morozov overlap. I also want
to be clear that I am not discounting the reality of gendered bias in
borrowing and giving credit. That is a real issue. But here, in the
articles, not the Twitter exchange, the complexity and heterogeneity of the
topic appears to be a major mitigating factor.

Thanks very much for raising this important issue. This is clearly a
general problem for computing history, and historiography.


Jon R. Lindsay

Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs

University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs



On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:27 PM, Meryl Alper <m.alper at neu.edu> wrote:

> Hi all,
> Over the weekend, journalist Fred Kaplan published an article in the New
> York Times, entitled "'WarGames' and Cybersecurity's Debt to a Hollywood
> Hack" (
> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/movies/wargames-and-cybersecuritys-debt-to-a-hollywood-hack.html?_r=0).
> The core argument -- that WarGames culturally influenced the Reagan
> administration's cyberpolicy -- sounded a great deal like communication
> scholar Stephanie Ricker Schulte's work.  When I brought this reference to
> Kaplan's attention on Twitter, he was super dismissive and minced my
> words.  So, naturally, I wrote a blog post about the incident, situating it
> within a broader trend of tech journalists (mostly men) minimizing the work
> of academics (mostly women), and capitalizing on this sin of omission in
> promoting their own books and other works:
> https://merylalper.com/2016/02/22/please-read-the-article-please-cite-women-academics/
> I'm really interested to know the thoughts of this community, both as one
> that knows the history of cyber law/policy inside and out, but one with
> many members committed to egalitarian principles.
> Best,
> Meryl
> --
> *Meryl Alper*
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Communication Studies
> Northeastern University
> Holmes 217
> m.alper at neu.edu
> merylalper.com
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> you can change your subscription options at
> http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20160224/7042ac9a/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Members mailing list