Academic Blogging (No Kidding…)

Jeff “Yellow Dog” Rice has a nice piece in his favorite internet publication, Inside Higher Education, called “Serious Bloggers.” Lots of good stuff here, most of which I agree with.

Four thoughts:

  • I completely COMPLETELY agree with the bit about anonymous academic blogging, a practice I have thought problematic for a long time. See, for example this entry and this one from the distant past (oh, okay, a year and a half ago). But I really like Jeff’s turn on the term “seriousness” in this essay. He writes:

    The consequences of this seriousness can be quite problematic, more problematic than whether or not a reader will take offense (or even retribution) at one’s postings. The consequence of this seriousness is stagnation. When we become too serious about novel ideas too quickly, we deny ourselves the ability to experiment with and develop the very innovations in communication we are attracted to in the first place. In turn, we replicate processes already in circulation; i.e., we maintain a status quo and fail to explore possibilities raised by the new medium. One hears that stagnation in the repeated refrains of “fear� pseudonymous bloggers express or the tropes of general complaining many pseudonymous weblogs turn out.

  • Some of the comments on this piece strike me as misguided. Folks, when Rice suggests we need to take the form of blogging “less seriously,” I don’t think he is talking about “being funny” per se.
  • On the other hand (#1), academic bloggers often want their blog writing to be taken “seriously” in an academic sense of it “counting” for something. Many of the folks in this circle of bloggers has written about this in the past– possibly even Jeff.
  • On still yet another hand (#2), academic (and other) bloggers, serious ones and not so serious ones, always self-censor in the sense that no one ever reveals everything about their lives on their blogs. As a simple example, while Jeff’s blog is indeed a mix of all sorts of different things, I don’t think you’ll find him complaining about his students or his colleagues on his blog. Conversely, it seems to me the main purpose of a lot of anonymous academic blogs is specifically to bitch about the people the work with and the students they have to teach. (Okay, maybe Bitch, PhD doesn’t really do that, but I couldn’t resist the link.)

That’s enough– I don’t want to take this too seriously, and now I have to get on with the day a bit.

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