Thursday, November 16, 2006


Why Blog?

Some of my favorite bloggers have been addressing the 'why blog' question lately, so I thought I'd chime in.

Blogging pseudonymously allows me to be much more truthful, and to many more people, than I can be in real life. Dean Dad can make it plain in a way that Dean Myname can't.

I like to write, but my job and life don't allow for sustained attention to a research project. Bite-size blog entries, though, can fit in the interstices of a life spent managing and parenting.

Blogging lets me stay connected to academics of my own generation (and younger!). This is not realistically possible on my campus, or in my day-to-day life.

On the blog, I can think out loud without inadvertently sending what some would hear as coded political signals.

I enjoy reading others' blogs, and feel a moral obligation to keep up my end of the deal.

Like Ginsberg, I have seen the best minds of my generation fucked up the ass, only in my case, it was by economics. I'm not much of a howler, so I blog. If my blogging dissuades some good people from jumping into the sausage grinder, I will have accomplished something.

In a very conservative county, I'm starved for intelligent liberalism. Academic bloggers are awfully good at that.

I get tired of some of the myths about administration that I read in grad student/faculty blogs and remember from my own grad student/faculty days.

To a classically-trained academic, there's something absolutely intoxicating about the “Publish This!” button. I never get tired of clicking on that.

In the words of Billy Bragg, “if no one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middleman.” There's something incredibly exciting going on in the academic blogosphere, and dammit, I want to be in on it. We bloggers are actually shifting the conversation. One of my recurring fantasies is to attend and participate in a regional academic bloggers' conference. Putting people to author-functions would be a real hoot. The DIY aesthetic of blogging strikes me as refreshing and desperately needed.

It's fun.

I've learned quite a bit through the exchanges with commenters and the conversations around the “Ask the Administrator” entries. When I get bogged down in administrivia, the intellectual stimulation of blogging is no small attraction.

The chicks, man...

At this point, I feel like I'm pretty good at it. There's a pride of craft in putting new stuff out there five days a week, knowing that at least a few of them are pretty good. Calvin Trillin calls himself the deadline poet; I think of myself as a deadline blogger. Besides, in middle management, most of your job satisfaction has to be vicarious. This, I can do myself.

My fellow bloggers – why do you blog?

That was a cool post. Do you really post five days a week? My days are upside-down from yours because of the time-zone so it's hard to keep straight. You are good at it.

I blog because I want to have as complete as possible a record of this extraordinary year in my life, when I am having so many new experiences and so much is changing for me. Also so I can keep my family and friends updated without having to send mass e-mails. Yuck.
I am in awe of your ability to post such good stuff so consistently. (Of course, it helps that your children are charming and hilarious :) ).
I blog to keep a record for myself and to have a conversation with others, mostly about academics, but also about juggling family and work.

The blogosphere has been very good to me keeping me sane while doing the job search, and making the transition from grad student to teacher.

I choose to meet folks and that has also given me a sense that this is very real. These friendship continue on after conferences.
I was digging the anonymity in the beginning, but I've since started a couple of blogs where knowing who I am has become important. Lindsay at has had her fair share of issues with being 'outed.'

I'm not as popular, so it's not a big deal.

Oh, and yeah- chicks in truckloads!
Blogging, like e-mail, is a way of having conversations on your own terms - when and where you want to have them. It also allows me to write about things that I've been thinking about but have no one to talk to about. There is a certain amount of venting I can do here (and on my blog) and nowhere else. At times, the process of writing helps me clarify what I think about things.

This blog in particular is helpful to me as I am trying to learn how to seek out and redirect resources to the program I manage by understanding the academic admin mindset. I spend a lot of time walking the border between groups - state regulators, my national accreditors, clinical sites and the academic institution that houses my program. I have no true peers at my institution - like many of my bicultural students I am neither one thing nor the other but rather an unholy fusion of different things - faculty, administrator and clinical practitioner. My perspective is never quite the same as that of the people I'm around – this blog helps me exist in a culturally correct way within the academic milieu.

Reading blogs also allows me a little laziness - I can benefit from the experience of others and learn about resources from them - good books to read, things to do with my kids. There is also catharsis in hearing that other people struggle to balance priorities – I feel less stupid for not figuring out the “right way” to get things done but see my own efforts to muddle through as being part and parcel of the random acts of parenting which seem more common than not.

Finally, the recent flap in certain blogs about the HPV vaccine gave me an opportunity to spread some good information in comments sections about the vaccine - my version of public service announcements. I’ve seen the consequences of people’s vast lack of understanding about the consequences of decisions they make about their health. Not pretty! While leaving comments on blogs is the functional equivalent of trying to build a mountain with a teaspoon, it’s the best I can do without going back into clinical practice.
I agree with everything that Ivory wrote, and tonight I am not sure what I would do if my blog were not available for some academic venting. I am SO disappointed with some of the faculty I encountered tonight that I feel like quiting academics all together. Reading other academic blogs, knowing that others have had similar frustrations, provides great comfort.
Intriguing, as usual, and inspirational towards something I have been wanting to do, a sort of catalogue raisonée of my own blogging.

Not there's there is anything wrong with getting fucked up the ass, as long as it is consesual and well-lubed, but yes, obviously I understand what you mean, although when I first read through the post I thought you had written Gainsbourg (as in Serge) instead of Ginsberg, which reveals my own dirty mind.

The publish button, absolutely brill! The chicks, well, I think I would get more traffic from gay men if I posted my pic (or at least someone else's). Do you ever imagine what other bloggers look like? I do, sometimes, often from their icons, whether or not they're real or not, although I only have to say I *wish* I was cute as Curious George!
Oso -- you're quite right. My apologies for any inadvertent implied homophobia there. I was going for a sly literary reference, but yeah, a different reference might have been a better idea.

If I posted my photo, my readership would shrink dramatically (except on my own campus, where it would increase for all the wrong reasons). No illusions there.

The best icon for me, now that I think about it, would be a tired juggler.
I blog because I like to write. And I love having people read what I write the day I write it. Waiting for stuff to appear a year later in an obscure journal -- well, my P&T committee likes that kind of thing, but it's not very rewarding to me.
As someone who was "dismissed" from an academic position after being "outed" for her psuedonymous blog, I've often wondered how safe you feel in your anonymity and blogging about work. I've been meaning to write an "askdeandad" email... but this post compelled me to ask it in this forum. Thoughts?
I want to hear more from Anonymous! Tell us your story!
I lurked for ages, then started to timidly comment. It looked like so much damn fun, that I decided to test the waters. Now I have a blog where I am not exactly pseudonymous but not exactly not. It actually started out as a way to share pictures and news with family and friends, and my rule of thumb is to not post anything that I wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of my local paper with my picture next to it. this limits what I write about, yes, but I have ended up using blogging as a way to explore things i want to talk about in my classes, to share things with those very few regular readers who are my "family" (since my real family just doesn't get the whole blogging thing). And a lot of other stuff that Dean Dad said. Thanks!
Ugh, Anonymous has a new academic job that she likes very much and doesn't really want to jeopardize by rehashing it all here. Let's just say the blog was brought to the attention of the administration who didn't take kindly to some of the criticisms she noted regarding a few colleagues. It was all pseudonymous, as I said, but with most things we read/write with pseudonyms, when the people involved read it, you can tell who is who. (As an aside, I got no credit for the good things I said about colleagues as I was shown the door.)
I started blogging rather recently, and I've found that it gives me a sense of community and allows me to enter into academic conversations that I would not normally get at my institution. My program has a large contingent of unfriendly gossips who, quite frankly, made it difficult for me to fit in. Blogging gives me the opportunity to vent, rant, and rave without feeling like it will end up biting me in the ass. And, I like letting my family and friends know what am I doing, instead of writing lots of email. So, mostly I do it for me, but to some extent it is also for my loved ones.
Aha! You've perfectly encapsulated why I tend to favour academic bloggers, even though I'm hardly one myself: the intelligent liberalism, which I find sadly lacking throughout the continent!

And as someone who also forces herself to post five days a week, I love the idea of the deadline blogger. It's not always pretty, but occasionally there's a few morsels worth being proud of.
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