Any work that is publicly available should have a minimal degree of professionalism, otherwise it is not worth anyone’s time or money. The degree of professionalism that is needed depends on the medium and the context. For example, there is a lower bar for the professionalism of a blog post and a higher bar for a published book. A book should be peer reviewed and fact-checked before it is published. Blog posts don’t often need any of that, but there still shouldn’t be grammatical and spelling errors.
In general, professionalism is the degree to which a work is good enough to fit into a niche or specialty or discipline. Factors that increase professionalism include: proper grammar, refined, lack of mistakes, attention to detail, cohesion, originality, cognizance of existing works and the prevailing attitudes and sentiments among the intelligentsia within the genre, which includes creators and critics. There is always a threshold that divides works that are viable (which might be commercially or at least in attracting some form of sponsorship) from those that are not. There are a lot of people who try to create works and many of them are unqualified. The lowest level of professionalism includes works that are not worth anyone’s time or money. Above this we have amateur works, which are those that might be original but are unrefined and were not produced with sufficient cognizance of the major works in the genre and the production of the works were not overseen by the experts in the field. There is sometimes a market for amateur works, but they have to be refined and original enough to warrant publication in order to be successful. Some amateur works can be successful with the right marketing. The highest level of professionalism includes works that were produced by experts in the field and are successful upon publication, whether judged by commercial success or by social prestige among the experts in the field.
I realize that everything that EWP releases needs to have a certain minimal degree of professionalism, but this got me to thinking about what is professionalism and how can one measure how professional a work might be. I came to realize that there is more than one dimension of professionalism. In light of this, it is necessary to identify the dimensions of professionalism that apply to created works. One should be able to measure any created work, whether published or not, whether complete or not, by these dimensions. Some dimensions are more important than others depending on the audience and the genre.
These are dimensions of professionalism that I have identified:
- Academic rigor – Driven by research and speaking to what academics consider to be the significant problems within their field of specialization.
- Aesthetic – Creative, original, and sophisticated in style and capable of conveying nuanced emotional power.
- Entertainment – Interesting, entertaining, relatable, and understandable.
I, along with the rest of the EWP team, need to develop the public offerings (books, podcasts, videos) enough to achieve a level of academic rigor that is sufficient for publication, but nonetheless the language should not be overly academic and abstruse. It should be entertaining and understandable to a pretty broad array of educated people but not just for those who are deep into a certain niche. Also, it should appear to be a professional and sophisticated work that is worthy of publication. In addition, there needs to be some academic professors who endorse the work. The bar is pretty high for what are trying to do, but we are working diligently to accomplish this so that the books, podcasts, and videos that we release are quite professional.