Attended this panel today about blogging and academia. It was a bit discouraging to be one of the three people in attendance who weren’t getting course credit for being there, but I guess that’s just to be expected when you plan a panel on Halloween…
That said, there were some good points made, perhaps the most memorable contribution was Liz Losh‘s rejoinder: “Don’t blog while angry, it’s like driving drunk.” She mentioned this in the context of a discussion about the ‘permanence’ of webwriting and other forms of electronic communication. Each panelist concurred that blogging is best done with a ‘drafts’ folder to let ideas gel for awhile before hitting the ‘publish’ button.
A few other thoughts:
Scott Kaufman spoke about how blogging made him love writing again. Daily, he stops working on his dissertation after dinner and then allows himself to blog. What he said rang true with my experience as a blogging academic. When I am blogging I am a better academic writer because I feel so much ‘juice’ running through my brain. I also have a momentum built from blogwriting that carries through into all other types of writing. I can literally feel my wrists and hands loosen as the words just flow. The only challenge of being an active blogwriter is that of time–making sure that I don’t get so preoccupied with blogthoughts and blogdramas that I forget what’s most important (i.e. my dissertation).
Liz gave a few statistics that I thought quite telling. She quoted the following percentages of responses as to why academic-types blog (note: just a few stats of the many she offered and I wish I had the citation for the study, but I didn’t get that either):
91% praised the intellectual stimulation of blogging
63% liked blogging because it facilitated interdisciplinarity
64% said it fosters community
My two criticisms of the panel discussion:
1) Each blogger seemed sheepish about their blogging, admitting that it was extra-curricular to their “real work.” This made me sad–what I wanted to see was a panel that legitimized the ways that blogging can enhance an academic career, not a bunch of folks who admit its frivolousness.
2) There was the expected ivory tower elitism–some slams at BoingBoing and the ‘bad writing’ of most blogs. While I agree that many blogs aren’t masterpieces (I’ll include myself in that bunch), I’m not sure that all of the panelists really ‘get’ the genre and form of the blog. It has a different audience and intention than a NYTimes article. For the most part, it’s intended to be rough and raw and fast. It’s more about connection to communty than polish, IMO. Of course, YMMV.