Bonk. Bonk. Bonk.

Yeah. That's the sound of my head banging against the wall of my office as I take short breaks from reading this thread at The Chronicle. Plenty of people, it seems, agree with Ivan Tribble. In case you don't feel like reading through the whole thing, common arguments in the thread include "there's a difference between having a private life and putting it out there in public" and "the hiring process is confidential, we don't take minutes at these meetings, and this person is going to be here 30+ years, so we should be able to use our discretion and maybe, yes, pass on candidates who blog." There was also this comment:

My experience is limited, but while I do have well-rounded colleagues who publish, the only colleagues I have had who were sufficiently into another field to devote the kind of time a blog requires (or attended Star Trek conventions, or was into sailing at a substantial level) have done this sort of thing at the expense of scholarly output. In at least 2 cases I know of people who did just the research needed to get tenure, and afterwards the hobby took precedence over the scholarship. Obviously this is what tenure means in a contemporary context, but if a department is trying to elevate its profile, the committee may look for signs that a candidate may have SUBSTANTIAL competing interests.

There's that assumption again -- a common one -- that blogging and scholarship are mutually exclusive. I certainly don't intend to single this poster out, only to say that I've heard this argument plenty of times, and I'm concerned about it. Of course I think academics should be able to write to a reasonable extent about their (our) personal lives without fear, but obviously many professors on hiring committees don't know a lot about research blogging, and I don't think we've done enough to communicate these other uses of weblogs. Academic bloggers who use our weblogs as research tools really need to get the word out that knowledge management is an increasingly common use of weblogs, and that using weblogs as research tools not only often opens up doors for scholars but also can reflect very well upon the universities where they work. I hope another professor on a hiring committee writes a rebuttal titled something like "Rollin' Out the Red Carpet for Bloggers" or "Bloggers We Wuuuuv You."


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The Chronicle just sucks

And those forum comment threads are THE WORST. Totally populated by reactionary dumbasses.

One might point out that anyone with the time to hang out in the Chronicle comment threads obviously isn't spending time on scholarshp either ;)

Bitch. Ph.D.

Time Commitments

I have a huge beef with the whole line of argument that scholars should spend all their time on scholarship. I mean, they may be talking about blogs at this point, but that's really only one step away from saying that scholars, to be respected, shouldn't have friends, or significant others, or children, or parents, or anything that would make them _human_.

And even if one granted the notion that one should spend a lot of time in scholarly pursuit at the expense of other things, this is buying into this really dumb, corporate notion that hours spent butt-in-seat necessarily translate into work of good quality. I mean, really, who has it more together: the person who can dink around, surfing the web, occasionally getting up from his or her desk to walk ostentatiously past the chair's office, starts doing a bit of reading, gossips with the person next door, sits down, writes a bit, gets up again, browses the Chronicle forums, types a bit, goes to lunch, runs into a colleague in the hall and gossips a bit more, etc. etc. then ostentatiously stays late -- or the person who sits down, writes solidly for two hours, turns out several good pages in those hours, pauses for a half hour to post a 15-minute blog post and check a few others, then goes back to work?

The only thing that matters is output. If the person is cranking it out, and the results are solid, who gives a rats how much time they spend actually doing it? Clearly, only people who feel threatened by that productivity, or who want to reduce scholarship to tidy little lines in a spreadsheet.

Me, I found the butt-in-seat aspect of corporate work the most degrading, mind-numbing aspect of the job. Whyever would anyone want to replicate that elsewhere???



Clancy, I know I have a real login for your site, but I've forgotten it. Could you email it to me again?



i really agree with you clancy. since hearing about the story i've had this nightmare vision of faculty bureaucrats hearing about the threat blogs pose to the Good Name of the University and formulating a blanket ban on blogging for all staff. it's crucial that we continue to demonstrate the scholarly outcomes our blogs generate for us - especially as early career researchers struggling to build a name for ourselves.

"memoirs" vs. blogs

With every second literature / writing teacher publishing a memoir or an autobiography now that biography is such an incredibly popular category, I'd really like to know how blogging is so very different.

Glen Fuller made a nice point about this the other day: if the hiring department is so afraid that a blogger colleague might write about departmental infighting and general badness, maybe it's not such a great place to get a job after all.

Par for the course

I was wondering what you'd have to say about this.

The same sort of bias can be seen throughout the humanities whenever the topic of humanities computing comes up. If somebody's actually heard of the discipline (which most haven't), they immediately assume that you're some kind of freak who spends all your time on the internet (reading blogs, probably) to the dearth of reading real things, like books.

Because a text isn't a text, unless a tree died to make it.


blogging in academia

2 Board Alley
One thing I've found interesting about Tribble's argument is that he doesn't seem to be aware that colleges use blogs for internal information giving as well as run workshops for teachers to learn how to use blogs in the classroom. And who is best fit for teaching the rest of the community how to blog? Umm, maybe a BLOGGER?
I agree with Rana about the ascetic implications of Tribble's concerns. The school that demands that kind of production had better be paying you big bucks. Frankly, though, any school that is that rigid sounds mentally unhealthy and not worth the interview.

Airing department laundry in print....

Surely someone's mentioned this before, but what I found most interesting about Ivan's article is the paragraph that reads:

"The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum."

Rather than worrying about potential hires someday airing department laundry in a blog, Ivan's department ought to be worried about their department laundry being aired in print.

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