A couple of links today that highlight the complexity of blogging:
Tom points to a Chronicle of Higher Education piece that recounts the work of a college hiring committee choosing a new professor. A number of the finalists had a blog. None of the blogging professors got the job not simply because of their online practice but it certainly didn’t help. The blogs were too political or too narrow or shed too much light. None of the candidates are named in the story, and here’s the even stranger part: even the author used a pseudonym. I like Stephen Downes’ reaction:
It’s ironic to see this author warning about your blog making you look like an idiot without any warning about doing the same in a column for the Chronicle. That is probably why the article is published under a pseudonym. The real miscreants are the editors of the Chronicle for publishing this drivel, a screed based neither in an understanding of blogging nor in sound advice for applicants and potential employers. Yes, let’s keep our lives secret befor we take a new position; that will make it much more certain the job will be a good fit. Rubbish.
Then Tim Stahmer points to David Weinberger, who takes himself to task for totally misreading the intent of a conservative broadcaster’s words, blogging about his anger and retracting it 15 minutes later when he realized his mistake. Problem is, 15 seconds is sometimes more than enough time for blog posts to live in infamy in someones RSS feed or due to a chance visit.
I’ve said before that I purposely stay away from topics here that might be read controversially, with rare exception. I don’t do policy, I don’t do personal life, or when I do, I think and write very carefully. I have other spaces that I publish in when the headlines of the day drive me into spasms, and those places are anonymous. I’m still not quite sure what that says, ultimately, about me as a blogger. Smart? Disingenuous? Timid? Responsible?
Dean R Shareski says
This is an increasingly big issue for bloggers do deal with. The idea of having mulitple spaces for various aspects of our lives has some validity. However, my concern is that we become too concerned with political correctness in efforts to avoid controversy. The appeal of blogs over other forms of reading is that we get to know the writer at a more personal informal manner. Grant it, I’m not interested in posting after posting about personal issues or one’s political beliefs, however, just like in the classroom teachers who expose themselves somewhat and allow their students to see inside who they are as people, has value and appeal.
Teachers must be careful not to cross that line but sometimes they have to walk dangerously close to it to maintain their effectiveness. Bloggers are in the same boat. I believe the evolution of blogging will sort out much of the paranoia and lack of respect for the media but I’m an optimist.
Chris Lehmann says
I think it makes you smart and pragmatic. I do post personal screeds and I do post pics of Jakob, but I also have hit the [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “adrSiteRootTable” hasn’t been defined.]
key on many, many posts that I felt were inappropriate for my blog. It’s sad, because there are some issues I’ve been dying to blog about, but that’s what a personal journal is for, I suppose.
Tom Hoffman says
Chris, I don’t seem to have that key on my keyboard. Where can I get one?
mary godwin says
Will, Mathew Kirschenbaum writes an effective response to the article you reference here and adds a call for those who have experienced career-benefitting results from blogging to chronicle their experiences in a list he hopes will evolve into its own effective response to The Chronicle. You can go here for the MGK post. -mg
Charles Nelson says
I see two issues here. One is not distorting what someone else said, as in the Weinberger case. The other one, the main one, is somewhat PC related, but it’s sort of different, too. Let me begin by saying the Chronicle article was not well written and made the author look more than a little silly. Still, let’s look at it from that perspective. If I were on an interviewing committee and had read a blog that vented and ranted, obviously that would give me some insight into the applicant’s personality, an insight that would be quite negative. If we hired this person, we would have to work with them. Why would we hire such a person? Also, to get tenure in academia, professors often work in excess of 70 hours a week; it’s publish or perish. If a blog went on and on about one’s personal life, I would wonder how that applicant would find the time to take care of academic responsibilities. Hiring committees spend a considerable amount of time reviewing applicants’ folders (sometimes there are more than 200 applicants for one position) and don’t want to waste their time by someone not getting tenure. On the other hand, if it were a professional blog related to the person’s academic interests, that would be a plus, especially if the thoughts showed promise. It’s naive to expect that impressions, whether in person or online, don’t count in job applications. And impressions are important in student-teacher relationships, too.
Bud Gibson says
Academic publishing, by its closed nature, tends to have very small audiences. Academia really has to ask itself the question if the amount of investment required to achieve success in this endeavor is worth the cost. Further, it is unclear what success in the academic publishing endeavor really indicates. Is it quality of ideas and research? Is it cronyism?
The problem with the kind of small reader markets one finds in academia is that there is not enough diversity to rule out cronyism in many disciplines.
In this regard, blogging by its very open nature might by itself be a big plus.
Bud Gibson says
I see nothing wrong with a professionally focused blog which is what I see here. Also, by its pragmatic nature, I think your blog offers a higher level of insight. I don’t have to swallow (a lot of) dogma (or secondary political views). I can just get an idea of what works or not.