Blogging for what? Blogging for whom?

Browsing the net may not be the most productive thing you can do to improve your resume, but it is often amusing and it can be very useful to accelerate and improve one’s research. So I was browsing when I found this nice post on a fellow blog: http://etherwave.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/blogging-as-scholarship/

From this on, I had a look at Ben Cohen’s two short pieces (links are below). These posts and an exchange of mails we had with Tiago and Yann last week made me wonder about the reasons that lay behing my own commitment with this blog and the reason I feel it is an interesting scholarly-related task. Some like Ben Cohen believe that the main thing about blogs is that they provide for a larger audience and with a new pedagogical device. It is certainly true, but I must say that I did not realize this in the first place nor that it says much about my participation to the history of economics playground. I feel much closer to Will Thomas’s points 1, 2 and 4:

– The blog is a way to articulate more thoroughly the actual perspectives on the history of economic thought than what can be done in a journal or in a volume. In the blog, you can have something closer to a conversation than in the latters. It is much more open than a journal article or even a conference paper, in particular I encourage Phd doctorant to submit comment and queries to our respective post. On the other hand, it has the advantage of being stocked whereas a conversation is ephemeral.

– The blog is a way to speculate about one’s own research and one’s perspective on the discipline.

– The blog is a space where one can criticize the actual state of the art in History of economic thought as a way to create an alternative academic/scholarship culture for HET. This is an aspect that I feel is especially important for a blog managed by young researchers.

– The blog is a way to create links between those who post, comment and read it. Between those who post, it provides a sort of “My generation” effect which is important not only psychologically, but also because of the extention of one’s web it may result in new opportunities of cooperation and mutual exchanges. For example, I am not sure I would have begun cooperating on projects, at least as rapidly, with Tiago and Yann if the blog had not existed. But the blog is also a way to socialize with others either outside our generation or outside our community through comments or various exchanges (I read your blog, you read mine, we both benefit from it; e-mails etc.). Here again, the fluidity of the blog permits freer exchanges than conference sessions and journals and it is easier to get in touch with discipline outsiders through the blog than through an academic setting of sorts (departements, conferences, etc.).

– On a final note, I mention that I believe that blogs such are ours should be first and foremost aiming at a scholar-related audience.

http://scienceblogs.com/worldsfair/2008/10/why_blog_the_history_of_scienc.php

http://hssonline.org/publications/Newsletter2008/NewsletterOct2008blog.html

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2 thoughts on “Blogging for what? Blogging for whom?

  1. The audience of your conference paper and the audience of your course lecture are well defined. In the former will sit your colleagues in the latter will sit your students. The place is well defined socially and any intruder will be spotted and reprimanded. The same cannot be done with blogs. You cannot control who reads you and I think you should not try hard in scripting your performance with an expectation of who reads you.
    I take it for granted that I write in a scholarly style, academic in the Stanley Fish sense. I don’t need to work at it. It flows naturally from what I do everyday and from how I chat with my fellow bloggers. I still try and mix it up a bit, and make connections, links, invocations with other discourses out there, because I cannot do it anywhere else. When I do it in the shower no one listens. If I don’t find an outlet for them, the fear is that I might scream them out loud in the middle of the night and wake the neighbors.
    So I don’t see myself following the model of the scienceblogs, or the nature blogs (http://scienceblogs.com/laelaps/) for that matter, which I think are part of a project for the public appreciation of science, staffed by science pedagogues who use history as a teaching tool. I see myself as an experimental writer, less my usual social scientist self, and more a humanities type, trying out sentences and ideas, sketching, drafting.
    Any way, we don’t have to agree on a manifesto. We just have to write.

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