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Thursday, 11 January 2007


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Rich Puchalsky

I think that a useful way of thinking about the work / life distinction in academic blogging is by thinking about how difficult it is to have a really good academic pseudonymous blog. There's nothing wrong with pseudonymity per se, but it prevents an academic from blogging about their work. It's easier to have a good pseudonymous political blog because politics is the activity of everyone, and people seem really more interested in (for example) what Digby or Billmon think about events than what they are personally working on.

I wish that I could have read Bitch Ph.D's conference presentation. Is she going to put it on the Web, I wonder?

The other thing is that development of a voice requires practise. To take three literary academic bloggers who I like to read, John Holbo, Michael Berube (yes, I know, "former"), and SEK, all of them write about their work, all have had greater than average practise at writing within a particular voice -- Holbo through his long blogging history if nothing else, Berube through his books, SEK through a focus on literary journalism.

It's a matter of writing technique as much as anything. In this discussion, I think there's a bit too much of "how can blogs become important academically?" without considering that if the criterion for success is popularity, blogs may require a kind of writing that is not merely informal academic writing.

Luther Blissett

Is the distinction really that complicated? I feel like a basic subject matter categorization works fine. Thus, some bloggers will switch between being "academics who blog (about cats, hockey, aloo gobi recipes, etc" and "academic bloggers."

One needn't *be* an academic to be an academic blogger. Anne Neal at ACTA is a perfect example.

Admittedly, there are probably blogs where the "academic who blogs" label is pointless insofar as the blog is almost purely non-academic in content. But someone like Berube was a great switch-hitter, an academic who blogged as well as an academic blogger.

I don't think style or voice matters much. For me, the grey area is "arts blogging" versus "academic blogging." Is an academic who writes a mystery novel review blog an academic blogger? Probably not, because I'd want to label the content of the blog, not the identity of the blogger. But insofar as the content of an academic profession like English has grey areas, so too will the distinction between academic blogging and blogging-by-academics.

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