Validation, communication, & academic blogging: some links

A linky post for those who are interested. There are some interesting things to be found on this topic.

Michael Cholbi at In Socrates Wake drew my attention to a few in his post inviting thoughts on whether humanists are avoiding exposure (responding to Alex Reid, see below).

Which led me to James Stanescu (aka Scu) at Critical Animal who makes a case for blogging as scholarly activity:

Blogging fits very well with the ways I like to think and communicate. It provides a wonderful sounding board, it is unofficial enough that I can just treat first drafts as important enough to hit the publish post, and I can see lots of other projects as they develop. I also get to be part of far flung academic communities. Whereas I am the sort of academic that enjoys hours and days of just researching in a library, I don’t enjoy the isolation that such work can cause. Blogging is a way of thinking as part of a community.

It also led me to Stuart Elden at Progressive Geographies, who says that blogging has replaced e-mail discussion forums for him.

Both of these perspectives connect with what commentors on my previous posts have said about the level of discussion and feedback and ability to develop ideas.

Elden’s post led me to a very good post by Adrian J Ivakhiv at Immanence. If you only click on one link from this post, click this one. He outlines a few key issues at stake in these debates.

The post by Alex Reid that Cholbi quotes makes another interesting point, though, perhaps related to our discussion of the validation function of traditional publishing.

the material and expressive segments of a journal serve a strong, territorializing function, reaffirming the boundaries of discipline and the identities of participants.

This is not insignificant. And much of the work of grant adjudication committees, tenure and promotion committees, etc is taken up with determining the quality and impact of a scholars work in the discipline. This is why interdisciplinary work still has such a precarious position in academe.

His concluding point is also an excellent one:

it is not a good scene if academics start feeling obligated to blog. We already know what obligatory academic writing looks like in all those well-hidden journal articles. What we require is a different kind of academic ethos where exposure is desirable. Not for self-aggrandizement. Not for tenure points. We should/must desire exposure because it is only through exposure to others that we develop relations and create agency. Otherwise it’s just “the tree falls in the forest” business.



  1. says

    Thanks for rounding up these interesting links. Like you, I particularly like the quotation you end with about the need for “a new academic ethos.” The discomfort or disdain with which many academics greet the whole idea of blogging is often disheartening to those of us who have tried it and found it useful and enriching. While I entirely agree that we don’t want to move towards obligatory blogging (heaven help us!), I think we need to keep up the pressure in favor of a more expansive understanding of academic work that matters. Why doing more of that work in public (to the limited extent that any academically oriented blog is really of much public interest!) should arouse such anxiety is odd, but the fear of exposure is very real–I know of at least one colleague who is a regular reader of my own blog but says she would never “dare” to even comment.
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  1. […] here), especially about the question of exposure. This has also now been picked up by an academic ‘career coach’ (whose comment to my original blog post is worth reading) and blogging described as another way of […]

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