Inside Higher Ed features two point/counterpoint articles about academic blogging, one by Adam Kotsko (the skeptic) and the other by Scott Eric Kaufman (the enthusiast). It should be said that Kotsko has extensive experience blogging, so his skeptic's take carries more weight than the likes of Ivan Tribble's.
Kotsko brings up some very good points, particularly that attempts to centralize (as in form a group blog) and, as he puts it, "quasi-institutionalize" blogging tend to silence discussion (perhaps for example, as much as I hate to say it, MediaCommons) or polarize it. As evidence for the latter, Kotsko provides the best analysis of the Long Sunday v. The Valve rivalry I've seen.
I think the best group blogs are those that seem more accepting of not Having Discussions and are more like collaborative commonplace books with notes and clippings, such as The Long Eighteenth, 3 Quarks Daily, and (okay, I'm biased) Kairosnews. These blogs are kind of like the Ron Livingston character in Office Space -- as in, okay, I'm going to post a link to this article and some of my thoughts about it because I think it's neat. I'm not going to try to throw in some provocative bait for discussion; if you want to leave a comment, great; if not, that's cool too.
There's good stuff in Kaufman's article as well. He makes a strong case for the benefits of academic blogging, especially the ways blogging can help an academic join a community and write for an audience. Two quotations:
I’m talking about a regular engagement with each other’s intellectual concerns — everything from the pains of preparing for the job market to the theoretical implications of an interpretive move you’re not sure you should’ve made — all communicated in a medium able to accommodate everything from idle chatter to earnest manifesto.
[. . .]
There’s no reason our community needs to consist solely of people we knew in grad school. Why not write for people who don’t already how you think about everything? Why not force yourself to articulate your points in such a way that strangers could come to know your thought as intimately as your friends from grad school do?
Okay, shifting gears here a little: I haven't talked about this much on here, but my blog reading habits have changed quite a bit in the past few months. I don't know if it's Google Reader or what. I still read many of the same blogs I always did, but now I read a lot more lifehackery blogs and frugality blogs, like the sites affiliated with LifeRemix. One nugget from these I'd like to share is Unclutterer's Unitasker Wednesday. If you like product snark (I have Collin and a few others in mind here), you'll love Unitasker Wednesday. Even if it is a little sad -- to my mind, anyway -- sometimes.
A final random note. I've decided that the best clothing fabric for the climate in southwest Louisiana is really thin cotton linen, as close to draping yourself in a few strips of cheesecloth as you can get: