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.”