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.
Read this! ‘We Are the Web’ by Kevin Kelly
“Not only did we fail to imagine what the Web would become, we still don’t see it today! We are blind to the miracle it has blossomed into.” ~Kevin Kelly
Click here to see this post about web 2.0.
awesome–thanks for the links!
I think the slamming of BoingBoing had more to do with the fact that two of us have corresponded with Corey, and are disappointed by the difference between the quality of what he thinks and the quality of what he writes. (I mock him with love, not hatred, in my heart.) That said, I do think that techno-fetishism has its limits with regards to writing, and I do think that most blogs are dashed off, written like Peter said he wrote his. After the session ended, when that red-haired woman accosted me (and you walked away, despite my eyes begging you to interrupt her and stop the torrent of abuse flowing from her mouth) I thought of a few things I should’ve made clear: you bring up the fact that no one defended blogging as academic work — you’re right, no one did. People who read my blog know that I don’t write about things unrelated to my dissertation at night, I just write about those topics differently. What I should’ve said in response to the whole “No Comments” trope was:
“It’s not about the comments: it’s about writing as if you had an audience you couldn’t count on your fingers. Academics write to impress, not communicate; blogging forces you to communicate, and downplays the silliness impressing peers entails.”
In short: it doesn’t matter whether you actually get comments; what matters is that you teach yourself how to write in a way that elicits them, i.e. encourages conversation instead of mindless note-taking.
I hope this makes some sense (I’m awful tired), but I’m more than happy to continue this conversation over … caramelized onions? (Not that I’m extorting anything from you and yours.) (Except I am.) (Those were fine onions.)
I wanted to chat a bit about the presentation but didn’t want to break into the intense chat you were having with the red-haired lady. I had no idea that she was ‘abusing’ you. Sorry!
Yes, we should have you guys over for food sometime soon. John has perfected a carmelized onion tart that you’d certainly enjoy! Let me know when Meg’s done with her exam work and we’ll set something up, okay?
Oh, and FWIW, I made a list of “Why I Blog” awhile back for a conference presentation. I think it sums why I keep throwing my ideas into cyberspace. At the moment I’m going through a bit of navel-gazing (as I do a few times a year) but for the most part I’m just thrilled to keep posting and enjoying whatever comments/feedback happen to come my way–even when it’s a ‘zero comment’ post I feel like my efforts have value. :)
You have some legitimate gripes, so I put a link to your post over on http://virtualpolitik.blogspot.com/2007/11/what-if-teacher-has-to-sit-in-corner.html
Next time I’ll try to do it differently. I promise.
I agree it’s a good idea to avoid posting to the Internet while angry. There’s too much temptation to write a rant that is really a response to one person and ends up (wrongly) painting a bunch of other people with the same brush and unintentionally picking stupid fights. When I’m tempted to rant on the Internet, I try to mull it over for a few days and turn it around to instead express my own position in a positive way.
On a related note, driving while angry is also dangerous as is blogging while drunk… ;^)