This journal has been a little too inactive of late. Mostly, this is because I had a) a course to teach, and b) a journal article to complete. Pleased with my concentration on those things, I let the window to the internet-world slide. “Why add another task?” I said to myself? Twitter became the extent of my wider communicative engagement with the world.
That all suggests a question: for a blog (and for twitter), does anything go? What sort of standard is applicable to the “academic blog” genre (or, again, to Twitter?) I’m still figuring out what my blog is for. And a part of that uncertainty is that the audience is wholly unknown. There are some great blogs out there, that clearly have large readerships. But it doesn’t follow from their success that their formats should be the standard or guide for what an academic blog is.
- Does (or should) an academic blog contribute to scholarly debate? Or does it contribute to another area, such as news, policy, politics, or employment and industrial issues?
Ask those questions, and you realise that their answers are conditioned by the field of the blogger. At a guess, a fast moving field could benefit from blogging about scholarly movements. Some employment issues are field specific (eg. Women employed in Physics, or Philosophy), while others aren’t (eg. Casualisation).
That leads us to the recognition that there are sub-genres of the Academic Blog set. So, for instance, Oxford’s Practical Ethics blog aims at providing moral-philosophical commentary on wider research and news-worthy events. The conversation seems to be with journalists, on the one hand, and also a rolling collection of ready-made examples for philosophical reflection on the other. So, partly didactic, partly aggregative – and part PR.
Music for Deckchairs, on the other hand, seems to operate almost like a voice of conscience for Higher Education. It is accordingly highly attuned to the changes that affect the structure and conditions of Universities. Posts come more slowly, but are more disturbing.
And, then, what about me? I’m not sure that this blog has found it’s voice yet. A place to chart, and jot; a commitment to the first-person narrative; the possibilities are many.
But all of that to say that it seems to me to be both an interesting and useful exercise to sort out some of the different genre’s of academic blog, and to articulate what they are for, what they do well. And because categorisation and characterisation should refer to general usage, that project needs to be collaborative.