Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Academic Blogging: Officially Un-Cool

Well, it's official. Academic blogging is officially un-cool -- The Chronicle of Higher Education has published a favorable article on academic blogging. The effect is like when you were a kid and heard your parents use one of your slang terms; when even parents know the term, it has become un-cool, and wise kids stop using it.

Of all the reasons to blog, one sited by Henry Farrell is one I never considered:

Academic blogs should be especially attractive to younger scholars, to whom they give an unparalleled opportunity to make their voices heard. Cross-blog conversations can turn the traditional hierarchies of the academy topsy-turvy. An interesting viewpoint expressed by an adjunct professor (or, even more shocking, an "independent scholar") will almost certainly receive more attention than ponderous stodge regurgitated by the holder of an endowed chair at an Ivy League university. Prominent academics who start blogging do have an initial advantage; they're more likely to attract early attention than people without established reputations.

Reputation? Can a blog really help a younger scholar develop a reputation ... as anything other than a crank, I mean? To be honest, I've found that the attention I've received is primarily from non-academics. Am I going to start receiving unsolicited job offers and requests for me to develop blog entries into articles?

The other interesting aspect of the article is that it primarily deals with the professional aspects of blogging. I'm wondering if it isn't time to spend more time talking about the blog as a sub-genre of the essay or miscellany. Blogs are interesting in that they are sub-literary, but completely in the realm of the literate. Indeed, one has to be traditionally literate and techno-literate to even access them. Into this mix throw the rhetoric of orality. Now that thinking about the value of blogs per se has become un-cool, maybe it is time to start thinking about how they function as a genre.


  1. Interesting typo - "sited" (cited) - It's interesting the connections the mind makes when we aren't watching.

  2. Interesting typo - "sited" (cited) - It's interesting the connections the mind makes when we aren't watching.

  3. It's funny, you know ... I actually looked at that twice, thought "there's something wrong with that," but couldn't put my finger on it. I could have been worse -- I could have typed "sighted," though perhaps that would have made sense in a metaphorical way. Maybe I should start calling links to other blogs "webcites"!

  4. Well, on the surface blogs can serve as essays, but I would argue that there is a level of intimacy to the blog that most essays don't have. I would suggest instead that they serve as a sort of generalized letter -- you're not writing for yourself, but rather for an audience. That said, most blogs tend to be as intimate as a private letter, at least at times. Maybe the blog as epistle? I think the political blogs can definately fall into that vein.

    I know in writing my own journal, something that crosses my mind from time to time is how ephemeral blogs are, and how much history is gained from letters and journals. I wonder if a disservice is being done, however inadvertantly, by not putting thoughts down on paper rather than on the screen.