Blog Purposes

January 12, 2004

Brian Weatherson at Crooked Timber has been writing about blogging as scholarship, a question that several other academic bloggers have addressed.

This is important, especially because hiring institutions now routinely google the names of people on their short list. In other words, web logs are not private. When I was working as a tech geek, I always reminded people that email is like a postcard - it is only private because no one wants to take the time to read it. If anyone cares about it, they can read it. Similarly, a blog post is like an article in the local paper. Most folks will never hear about it, but anyone who goes digging will find it quickly and easily.

You may have noticed that this blog does not have my last name on it. I decided for several reasons that I did not want it to come up when I was googled . I may change my mind at some point, but once I go public I can never go back.

Nonetheless, I do see this blog as having an academic component to it. Most of the time this is a mix between a workplace blog and a personal blog, or I should say it is the workplace blog of someone who spends most of their workday working alone. I do write about historical topics fairly regularly, and a good portion of my traffic comes from people who are googling about history and find my articles.

In terms of academic value, this blog is a set of documents written in my role as a public intellectual. It should count for tenure, and if I keep it going a later version will be included in a tenure package, just as one would include a series of local history articles in the county newspaper. It is service, which several people have noted, and it is service as a public intellectual.

Most of the folks who have been talking about blogging as service have been law professors, and I do not think that law has anything equivalent to public history - the art of making the past available to people through outreach, museums, and community projects. I find that an important part of my internet presence is as a public historian, whether writing about flags, or sermons, or any of the odd things that folks have googled me on.

And back to Beecher.

Posted by Red Ted at January 12, 2004 10:43 AM | TrackBack