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Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Five years ago today, I posted about my job market success and Memoirs of a SLACer was born. Given that the average blog lasts about two weeks I am fairly surprised by my ability to keep this up for so long. I may have originally considered blogging to be a way to waste time that I should have been spending on my dissertation, but my dissertation was completed long ago and 572 posts later the blog is still going.

Early on, a friend who encouraged me to start a blog (probably so that I would stop sharing my “wisdom” with her) asked me how many readers I would need to consider this venture worthwhile. I responded that five readers would probably be enough to keep me going. Luckily, while Memoirs of a SLACer is not among the most read sociology blogs, more than five people read it every day (sometimes as many as eight!) so I don’t think I’m wasting my time.

Although there have been lulls in my blogging productivity, I have also been relatively successful at sticking to my preferred posting schedule. If you were not aware that there is a preferred posting schedule it is probably because talking about how frequently or infrequently I will post is prohibited by the Memoirs of a SLACer founding principles. These principles, eloquently titled “blog rules” in the text file I saved them in five years ago, are printed here for the first time:

  • No Comments unless I ask a question
  • No family life unless it is related to sociology
  • No mention of how frequently or infrequently I will post
  • No talk of singing in the shower at 3 am
  • No jumps
  • Capitalize the first word of post titles with no punctuation at the end

A few comments on these principles, which I have done a fairly good job of upholding over the years: Although I think that allowing comments can help develop a community around a blog, my thoughts regarding comments were influenced by this. Later, I read this, which reinforced my views. If it weren’t for John Gruber, you might be able to comment on this post right now!

The words “I have been meaning to post more” mean that the writer you are reading will soon stop providing updates. My policy on this has always been that I will post things when I want to post things and I won’t post things when I don’t or, more likely, when I’m too busy.

Possibly the most important blog rule was inspired by this. I have always connected with writers who allow some of their personality to come across in their writing, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing…

Although I’ve made it five years, I will not promise this blog will be around for another five. I won’t even promise that there will be a post on Thursday at 6 pm Pacific time. To do so would be to break my third rule of blogging.

At any rate, thanks for giving me a reason to keep writing!

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A while back I talked about the fact that there are very different publication currents at the school where I was a grad student and the school where I currently work.  I stated:

When coming out of graduate school I had a strong desire to do important research but I wondered if the desire for high-profile publications would fade.  What I’ve found is that the desire hasn’t faded but the expectations of my institution create a situation in which I appear to be swimming against the current, wondering how long I can last before I am swept downstream.

When writing this, I was thinking about my own experiences and those of others at liberal arts schools, but this feeling is not confined to the SLACers of the world.  In response to these feelings, I talked about joining an old-fashioned (and long-running) reading group.  Historiann, however, presents blogging as another alternative in her blog post summarizing her talk summarizing her feminist blogging (how meta!).  She writes:

From the perspective of an intellectual metropole like Austin, I can certainly see why some might think of academic blogging as a waste of time that competes with the time available to meet concrete career benchmarks.  But most of us don’t end up in major university towns or big cities with seminars and symposia in our fields and armies of Ph.D. students–most of us leave graduate school and spend our careers in places in which we may feel intellectually isolated.  So blogs can be spaces that become virtual communities where we can combat isolation and have conversations about our common interests.  If your goal in blogging is to alienate friends and allies, then blogs may be potentially dangerous to one’s career.

I suspect that not all blogs work equally well for this task.  A pseudonymous blog in which the author never talks about his specific work (and doesn’t allow comments) is probably much less effective at building academic communities than a blog focused on a person’s particular research interests.  Similarly, an individual’s blog may be less effective at building community than a topic-centered group blog such as Orgtheory.  I suspect that if I had ended up in the middle of nowhere the purpose of this blog may have quickly changed from providing “sociological perspectives on life and the liberal arts” to providing “discussions on the sociology of lima beans for the intellectually isolated.”

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Sometimes, a spike in blog traffic has a clear explanation, such as a link from a much larger blog or a video that people like to pass around (ending up in some strange locations).  Other times, there will be a day with many more views than those around it.  For these days I would like to say thank you to the graduate student who happens upon this blog and spends an entire morning or afternoon clicking links to my musings on the job market or the transition to faculty life and, from there, clicking links to the pages that I cite.  It is you, the student who chooses to read this blog instead of studying for comprehensive exams, working on your dissertation, or taking a nap that makes this endeavor worthwhile.

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