I noticed earlier this week that the post counter in my blog publishing software was ticking towards a rather important milestone: …497, 498, 499… and, with this post, I’ve officially attained it: 500. And so I have a question: Do you congratulate or scold yourself for writing 500 blog posts on SWFs?
It’s hard to say. There’s no immediately apparent academic payoff to blogging daily. In fact, some would say (and some have told me) that blogging takes away from more productive pursuits (such as the actual research I’m paid to do). That’s something any aspiring academic should take seriously. After all, the only chips in the academic game are peer reviewed and published research papers and books. The concept that academics must publish or perish is alive and doing quite well thank you. (If you thought teaching was important for a budding professor, think again. Teaching is like breathing, you eventually have to do it in order to keep from perishing, but nobody’s going to give you credit for it…or the fact that you may do it well, which is unfortunate). There’s probably a reason why all the academic bloggers I can think of already have tenure and the one I can conjure that was a remarkably skilled blogger long before his tenure committee’s decision…didn’t get it (at least at first).
But, you know what, while I would have agreed two years ago that ‘time blogging is time that might have been better spent’, I think I’d probably disagree today. I see now some clear benefits from the process that underpins blogging, and I also increasingly view blogging and micro-blogging as an important part of an ‘idea production chain’. For example, the blog forces me to sit down every single day and get caught up on what’s happening in the real world by reading the latest news and reports. In understanding these current events, I inevitably come up with ideas for the blog. Then, while writing blog posts, I often come up with (what I feel are) interesting ideas for my academic work. The circle then comes back around, as the same tools that helped generate the initial idea offer a ready-made network for distribution of the refined idea. So, I post my academic work on the blog and on the Twitter feed and, sometimes, I actually find myself reading about my own research in the same papers and magazines that helped to spark the initial ideas in the first place (e.g. and i.e.). The idea loop is complete.
Obviously, the downside to all of this is that a blog is a very public forum in which to “work out ideas” (which is another way of saying, “be wrong”). But, hey, that’s the point, right? After all, what you are reading is just a blog. Frankly, I’m allowed to be wrong from time to time in this medium. Feel free to hold me to anything I write in a journal article, but before you think a blog post from two years ago represents my current state of mind…better check again.
Anyway, all this is to say (…and probably to convince myself…) that the 500 posts were worth my time. The question is, then, will I keep doing this for another 500 posts? I can’t say. I’ve got the funding to get me close to 750, but after that I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to revisit this post in a year’s time and decide…was I right about the benefits of blogging or, perhaps just as likely, was I wrong.
In the meantime, thanks for reading!