Intellectual life in countries such as the UK and elsewhere is currently framed by a seeming contradiction. On the one hand, notions of engagement and knowledge transfer have taken centre stage in higher education institutions in their desire to create impact with the general public and non-academic institutions. But on the other hand, these societies are witnessing an apparent decline in the role and importance of the public intellectual. Given this is the case, it is important to ask: what does the future hold for the public intellectual? And what is the role of the university when it comes to sustaining and enriching a broader intellectual culture in the public sphere? The aim of this paper is to explore these questions, particularly in the context of the spread of digital scholarship in the academy. This form of web-based academic scholarship, which valorises openness and public engagement, has the potential to change the shape and substance of public intellectualism. The paper explores this potential in detail, while at the same time outlining some of the challenges faced by the digital scholarship movement and its efforts to further ‘publicise’ intellectual life.