My daughter, Leslie Rodriguez, is a Ph.D. student in sociology. We were taking a walk the other day, and she was going on and on about how much she appreciates the blogs that many of the academics in her field create. She is a review editor for a journal in sociology and reads through these blogs regularly as she looks for faculty to review articles. Several things stood out about her comments that made me think that blogging might be a worthwhile and genuinely helpful practice.
First, blogging can help to humanize and contextualize scholars. By seeing bits and pieces of the scholar’s life, pictures, videos, and so on, they become regular folk who are not wholly defined by their work. I will post this kind of blog entry in the category entitled “Who is this?”
Second, blogging can help others understand the relationship between a scholar and their work. When reading scholars’ blogs, my daughter seemed to learn a lot by connecting the life-passions and interests of scholars to their work. It connected the dots between the scholar as a person and the scholar’s work. These sorts of posts can be found in the category called “Connecting the Dots.”
Third, reading blogs can help to bring the scholar’s work “down to street level.” Whereas published essays and books are important for developing careful arguments based on careful research, a blog can be a place to see how these ideas work themselves out as part of a “mind set” or habitus. Whereas publications require absolute consistency, blogging opens the door for real-time inconsistency, pragmatic conversation with other perspectives, and making a host of connections that were not made in the published material. I am putting these posts in the category called “Views From the Street.”
Finally, a blog allows a scholar to push beyond their published work and to think out loud in real time about other ideas and issues in and beyond their field that may have little or nothing to do with their research and writing.These sorts of posts appear in the category called “Musings.”
With these things in mind, I’m “jumping in” for better or worse. I hope this practice is helpful or of some interest to my current students, ex-students, and other new friends in the great new social network of provided by the Internet.”