Friday, March 9, 2018

A Modest Revision to Chatham House Rule: Academic Exception

Later today, I will post some of what I learned at the 10th Anniversary of CIPS (the U of Ottawa research centre).  It was a great one day conference, full of sharp people that made me have a significant case of imposter syndrome.  And, yes, I talked about Trump---because that was my assignment.

Anyhow, what was kind of frustrating is that they applied Chatham House Rule to the event--which means we can talk about the stuff, but not attribute what was said to those who said it.  I get it--it makes it far easier for government types to speak freely or semi-freely, although it is often the case that the government types don't (it varied yesterday).  But academics?  Our job basically involves two fundamental things: to figure stuff out (I always find "create knowledge" to be a bit high falutin') and to share what we have figured out (disseminate knowledge).  It is completely contrary to the academic enterprise to limit one's audience.  This is not about citation (ok, mostly not) but about the reality that it is hard to talk about what people are saying if you can only share it in ways that mask their identities.  Because programs are generally online, live-tweeting, for instance, can easily give away who is saying what.

So here's my modest proposal for conference organizers: tell your audiences that CHRXA (Chatham House Rules Except Academics) applies: Chatham House Rules applies to the stuff that non-academics say, but feel free to tweet or blog about the academic mutterings.  I did ask after the conference if I could blog about a couple of the presentations, and the two academics said: duh, of course.  So, I will.  But I'd prefer for all those in the audience to share what they heard, so we need to be clear at the outset of these events. 

Let's make CHRXA more popular than fetch!

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