Daily Archives: November 1, 2007

To Blog Or Not To Blog – That Is An Academic’s Question

I’ve been trying to focus some attention on faculty blogging just recently (without much success I suspect) as I think there’s some valuable insight for academic librarians to gain in that sector of the blogosphere. Now comes an interesting point-counterpoint set of essays over at Inside Higher Ed. This continues an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of blogging for academics, and for me this includes librarians, especially those on the tenure track.

In his essay that questions the value of academic blogging, Adam Kotsko, presents a view that blogging is not all that it is cut out to be when it comes to communicating with fellow academics. He writes:

I think that everyone needs to realize that having a productive conversation in an online format is very hard work, which is why it happens so rarely. Many bloggers can point out online conversations in which they were pushed to think in a new direction or got genuinely valuable feedback on a question, but as with all human endeavors, there is a high percentage of dross to go along with the occasional gold. Policing comments is a difficult job, and efforts to keep conversations on-topic or ensure that contributors have some substantial knowledge to share will often cause resentment in light of the “democratic” leanings of online communities. All this is on top of the obvious problems with online interaction as opposed to in-person conversations.

While Kotsko is tired of blogging he indicates he’s not quite ready to leave it behind all together.

The counter essay from Scott Eric Kaufman suggests that there is still value in blogging for two main reasons. First, he says that blogging gives most academics something they don’t have but long for – an audience for which to write. Second, he points to the communities that develop around blogs which he says are a good thing for us to have. He writes:

I’m talking about the communities we currently have, only five years in the future, when we’re scattered around the country, unable to communicate face-to-face, but still connected, still intellectually intimate, because we’ll still regularly be engaged with each other’s thoughts.

I would agree with Kaufman that blogging is still a worthwhile endeavor, and it certainly has helped to bring academic librarians closer together in conversation. A blog like ACRLog gives us an ongoing opportunity to not only share news and information, but to exchange our ideas and thoughts about how developments in and beyond higher education are impacting on our work. And there is a growing core of academic librarians who add to the conversation in their own blogs. While we’re on the topic of academic librarian blogging. I’d like to add to the ongoing conversation about anonymous blogging, I agree that it has its place. I’ve noted that a number of faculty blogs are anonymous, and I can understand someone being concerned about their views impacting on their current job or future opportunities. However I have a problem with anonymous bloggers who use their posts to insult or criticize the work of others. It’s a cowardly act and I think this post by John Berry effectively expresses the issues and this point.