lately i suck at blogging

This I believe.

I’m thinking of doing some audioblogging, instead. Are there any good platforms left for doing such a thing, or do I have to host the soundfiles myself?

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So, when Dr. B links to you, a great many readers come to your blog. 500 and counting. Strangely, none of them have left any comments, yet.

Toward the end of her post, she writes, “And the ‘oddly arousing’ thing makes me wonder–and wish–that more men would write honestly about sex and sexiness.” Well, I blog under my real name…mostly. And most of the women I know who write about such things frankly do so under pseudonyms. Not too many men who are academics blog pseudonymously. (Yes, we’ve all had this conversation before.) Is the reluctance to blog openly about “sex and sexiness” related to pseudonymity? Well, it is for me. I do talk pretty openly in IM with Dr. B about these issues, and I did f2f with my single friends in the city I just left (the vast majority of whom were female). But blogging? That’s another story.

…still thinking…

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Hi there. I’m George, an assistant associate (as of 16 August 2012) professor of English. This website is mostly about language, literature, history, technology, and higher education, but I’m likely to address other things from time to time. I try to be serious without being boring, professional without being stuffy.

Not everyone believes that academic blogs have value, and some believe they are a professional liability.1 However, those who write academic blogs have written much more eloquently about their advantages than any critic has written about their disadvantages. Liz Lawley, for example, has found that “[s]tarting a blog has been the most influential professional act I’ve ever taken.” For Rebecca A. Goetz, who brought empirical depth to the conversation by conducting an online survey of academic bloggers, “the typical hierarchies of the ivory tower break down in the blogosphere so that even graduate students can be public intellectuals of a kind.” Sharon Howard points out that “[t]his is an amazing opportunity to reach out [to] a slightly different audience than in the usual academic contexts.” Matt Kirschenbaum has regularly described his blog as “a kind of public academic workbench.” Miriam Jones writes that “[a]nyone who is not at least reading online is missing a significant professional discourse.” There is much to be gained from this new form of communication and the relationships engendered by it.

Of course, no encomium to blogging would make a bit of difference if bloggers were being denied jobs and tenure because of their online activities. The evidence, however, is overwhelming that blogging has little to no negative effect upon professional careers. Only one case has come across my radar in which a blogger didn’t make tenure: Daniel Drezner announced that he was denied tenure at the University of Chicago on October 8, 2005; less than a month later, however, he had accepted a tenured position at Tufts University. In Drezner’s case, it is not at all clear that blogging was the reason for not making tenure, and it obviously did not get in the way of his being able to find a rewarding job somewhere else. Furthermore, on my reading list alone are several examples of bloggers whose careers have progressed quite nicely: Liz Lawley, Elouise Oyzon, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Miriam Burstein, and Miriam Jones have all gotten tenure while blogging; Rebecca Goetz, Caleb McDaniel, and Ryan Claycomb were all offered tenure-track jobs while blogging. Although what one says in a blog is obviously important, there is little reason to believe that the mere act of blogging has a detrimental effect upon one’s academic career.2

Many different voices are arguing that there’s a crisis in scholarly communication,3 and blogging is one of the emergent communicative forms that are being used to address that crisis. In between writing for peer-reviewed publications and writing drafts that might never see the light of day, there has to be space for writing that is shared with others in a public venue like this. WorkBook is a tool for sketching out rough (and not so rough) ideas, for asking others to provide me with feedback on my teaching and research, for pointing to interesting material online, and for responding to the thoughts of other writers who use such online tools to write. WorkBook also allows readers who might not otherwise read my material to see what I do as a professor.

I write here because it helps me think through complex issues. I write here because it helps others think through complex issues, too. I write here because this makes writing addictive and enjoyable, instead of fraught with anxiety. I write here because I believe it makes me a better writer. I’m not alone. This list at Crooked Timber is a good indication of how many people who work in higher education write in this way. If you read this, I hope you’ll join the conversations that take place here.

  1. An extremely unsympathetic attitude is best represented by two pseudonymous columns published in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the summer of 2005: “Bloggers Need Not Apply” and “They Shoot Messengers, Don’t They?” See also Robert S. Boynton’s “Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs.”
  2. Scott Jaschik’s “Too Much Information” considers the risks and rewards of academic blogging.
  3. See, for example, the following diverse views: John Unsworth, “Electronic Scholarship, or Scholarly Publishing and the Public” (1994); Association of Research Libraries, “FAQ: Scholarly Communication” and “Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing” (2000); Stephen Greenblatt, “A Letter to MLA Members” (2002); Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “On the Future of Academic Publishing, Peer Review, and Tenure Requirements” (2006).
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happiness is a warm blog

It’s a sunny, cool Sunday morning here in Manchester. The weather up north is not as warm as it was down in London, and that’s just fine with me. I’m working on fulfilling Laura’s suggestion regarding local pix. A local coffee shop features a free, 30-day trial of their WiFi service, allowing me to check in periodically. I had ethernet in my room in London, which is why I was blogging (and reading online) more.

Yesterday I became the last person in the world to buy a copy of the (so far very enjoyable) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell. I also saw Batman Begins. My verdict? Best. Batman. Ever.

You know what? I feel good. Although L is currently several thousand miles away, and we will have spent a total of eight weeks apart this summer, I am made quite happy by being in the archives, reading otherwise inaccessible materials, and writing rough drafts that will (with any luck) appear as articles and/or as a book.

Happiness is not something I’ve blogged about a great deal. And happiness runs the risk of being boring. I believe it was Tolstoy who first observed that “Happy bloggers are all alike; every unhappy blogger is unhappy in his or her own way.”

Continue reading

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assignment: photos

This weekend I will likely do a good bit of walking around Manchester. If you suggest a theme for some photographs, I will do my best to create an interesting set of pix on Flickr.

The cows are gone, alas.

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