For me, keeping an academic blog has been useful and satisfying for all kinds of different reasons. I use this blog space to kind of keep notes and make links for myself (for teaching, for scholarship), my blog is a way making connections with other scholarly-types, I like the immediacy of blogging, I like the control I have, and I like the attention, modest though it may be. This is just a guess, but I’m pretty sure that more people read my blog every month than have ever read my more “real” scholarly publications.
In fact, I for one am likely to write even more on my scholarly blog and even less in more conventional outlets, at least for the next year or two. Why? Because I can.
See, in the next week or two, I
should be will be as done as I am likely to get with a textbook project that I’ve been working on (and off and on) for years now. That’s the kind of project that will make you want to take a “break,” believe me.
Plus I’m in a comfortable and “settled” space life and career-wise. I’ve been tenured for a while now, and, because of the way things work at EMU, I will almost certainly be promoted again to “Professor” in a few years based on the work I’ve already done. My wife, Annette Wannamaker, is going to be starting a position in the department here at EMU as an assistant professor, specializing in Children’s Literature. This situation– both of us employed in good tenure-track positions that allow us to live in the same house like “normal” couples– has been something we’ve been working to achieve for almost 10 years now. We’re darn happy about it and because of this arrangement and the difficulty in getting this deal in the first place, I seriously doubt that we’ll be leaving EMU (which means we won’t be “going on the market” again, which we’re pretty darn happy about, too).
In other words, I’ve reached a point in my career where I don’t have to play the usual “publish or perish” games. And because of that, why not just blog?
Of course, my situation is a bit unique and perhaps different from a lot of other bloggers out there. It seems to me that grad students and tenure-seeking faculty need to make some careful decisions about blogging, about what to write or not write (I’m thinking here of the need to avoid posting things to a blog that might hurt future or on-going employment), and about how much and how often to write. Collin says that blogging is something that has helped him with his other academic writings, but I think I tend to agree with Alex when he writes:
You donâ€™t give up other scholarly pursuits completely to go â€œall inâ€� on blogging (or, at least, most donâ€™t). But the truth is, rather than writing this entry, I could be working on a half-dozen other projects that would actually show up on a vita. The direct payout is not at all clear.
And again, by “direct payout,” I think what Alex means is stuff that will count in the academic game of getting a tenure-track job, getting tenured or getting a better academic job, getting promoted, etc.
For me, blogging is a benefit in and of itself. But I also see it as a dangerous procrastination activity. In the time I have spent this morning on this entry, I could have (probably should have) gotten some more work done on my textbook. Which is what I think I’ll go do right now…