Blogging as an Academic Activity

In my last post, I mentioned that I was taking a week off from this blog to attend a conference at which I would be making a presentation about this blog. Since I have been so preoccupied with thinking about blogging, I thought I would devote today’s post to a consideration of how blogging relates to other academic activities.

Five months into this blogging adventure, I realize that it is premature to draw any definitive conclusions. But having to make a presentation on this topic forced me to come up with some provisional conclusions about the difference between blogging and other academic pursuits. Here are four themes that seem to characterize the singularity of the blogging experience:

  1. The blog allows me to craft my ideas into a form that endures outside of a particular class setting (blogging as permanent).
  2. The blog allows me to reach a broad number of people with whom I might otherwise have no connection (blogging as public).
  3. The blog allows me to share my thoughts in short bits at frequent intervals (blogging as periodic).
  4. The blog allows me to express my ideas in whatever way I choose without going through anyone else’s editorial process (blogging as personal).

Looking at these four themes together, I think it is possible to think of academic blogging as the creation of a hybrid space that combines aspects of traditional publishing (because it is permanent and public) and aspects of teaching (because it is periodic and personal). This hybrid space seems to be well suited to meeting the needs of graduate students who want to improve their academic writing skills: because it is public, a blog can be accessed whenever readers need it; because it is periodic, a blog can provide readers with information in manageable bits; because it is permanent, a blog can give readers the opportunity to pursue an issue further through earlier posts on related topics; and, finally, because it is personal, a blog can adopt a clear authorial stance that allows readers to determine whether it suits their writing needs.

The conference itself was great. Thanks to all CASDW members for an interesting and congenial weekend in Fredericton!

13 responses to “Blogging as an Academic Activity

  1. Nice analysis of academic blogging. I wonder about adding a fifth theme – ‘provisional’. That is, although a blog is permanent, and public, it is a forum for testing out and developing ideas, often before they’re absolutely bedded down. Reading a blog chronologically, as a continuous narrative rather than isolated posts, is often an interesting way to see the development of an author’s thought (and a productive way to write!).

    • Thanks, Tim! I love your idea of adding provisional to my list. In my presentation, I included the ease of revision as a mitigating factor against permanence. In fact, I struggled a lot with the word ‘permanence’; in some sense, it is clearly the wrong word for blog content, but I wanted to draw a sharp contrast with the ephemerality of the classroom. Thanks for commenting–I enjoyed looking around your site!

  2. In a very similar situation myself! Trying to write a conference paper today on academic blogging for professional development, and am having to develop an early-days framework. My current thoughts are that getting involved in social media often leaves academics as being more exposed, engaged and networked than they otherwise would be ( Look forward to seeing how your work develops.

  3. I too like your emphasis on the hybrid quality of blogging as an academic activity. I’m supposed to talk about my own blog at an upcoming conference, too: it’s interesting to see this once-marginal form gradually being taken seriously enough for so many of us to be seen as resources in this way.

  4. Thank you for this post. I wrote my MA thesis on exploring fear of death in end of life via photographs and poems I produced on a blog. With this work I add classifications to your list: Blogging as Praxis (apply research for social benefit), Blogging as Research Ethos (requires via the Personal and Public classification a paradigm in research for drawing near to a studied phenomenon), and Blogging as Culture (techno-cultural, an artifact of our larger culture, popular CMC methods for communicating, etc.). With these classifications, I propose an opportunity for academic research to engage culture, to provide access, and to apply a social benefit. In my case the benefit came by addressing a topic often rendered silent (griefwork) in the larger public while providing a therapeutic outlet. In any case, blogging, in keeping with prior literature, offers a degree of empowerment as anyone with digital access can create one. The challenge is in the types of public who have access and those who don’t.

    As an aside I’d add Blogging as Revisory, which conflicts with Blogging as Permanent. Blogging is Permanent in that as Chvasta (2003) noted, the text continues each time someone interacts w/it. However, its permanences is not indelible, as with ink, but revisory. That change component may be an opportunity and meshes with Blogging as Public, Social, and Cultural. How can we initiate positive change via blogging? I suggest we start with revising practices in Academia to mirror the flexibility that Blogging offers.

  5. Pingback: Writing, Blogging and Vlogging? | livesinliminalspaces

  6. Anthony Haynes

    I found this a helpful post, thank you. I’d suggest adding:
    1. market research (a) – interest: finding out, from responses and numbers of hits, what readers are interested in ;
    2. market research (b) – diagnosis: finding out what readers do and don’t understand;
    3. developing a writing habit.

    • Thanks, Anthony. That’s an interesting idea–I certainly wish I knew more about what readers are interested in and what they find helpful!

  7. What about “blogging as discursive”? Blogs allow us to interact with one another and enlist others’ perspectives to do things like…build a list of why we blog.

  8. Pingback: Blogging as an Academic Activity | Ciencia 2.0 |

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