I received an invitation the other day to join a new academic blog in my area. I would be emailed news clips and items of interest by a coordinator and produce 1-2 posts a week. My first reaction was that while 2 posts a week is insane, I might be able to do one. Yes, I thought, I could do this. And we really need a blog in this area! And how nice to be asked! And isn’t this great! I drafted an immediate affirmative response. But something happened (my dog was probably trying to eat someone again) and…
Thank God I did not hit “send.” It’s true that I love to blog. I am blogging right now! About blogging! But if I took this on, I would be in the following ridiculous situation: I am a member of a professional academic organization, I review article and conference submissions for them, and I blog for them. But I have never actually published a peer reviewed article in their journal.
I asked myself if the fact that I truly support academic blogging and that I truly believe we need a new blog in this (feminist) area means I am being hypocritical not to sign up. But I have to look at my own situation. I’m an academic for whom academic writing is a tremendous challenge. And not just a challenge, but, if I’m honest, the area of my professional life in which I am the least accomplished and (this is very hard to admit) underachieving.
Adding a professional blogging gig to a c.v. that is strong in other (traditional) respects is a great idea. But I know myself. I’ll spend a few hours a week on that academic blog, and tell myself it’s just like research. But to the powers that be, it’s not. I would not be able to list my blog posts under “research” when I submit my materials for promotion in a year because they are not peer reviewed. At best, they would go under service, an already unnecessarily (but satisfyingly) large section on my c.v.. Or maybe under “teaching” to the extent they engender discussion, especially among students and grad students. Perhaps the separation of teaching, research, and service, already artificial, is downright absurd when it comes to new media.
That said, the requirements for promotion are not artificial. They are real, and unchangeable in the short term. So, for now, no professional blogging for me.*
Rohan Maitzen of Novel Readings has thought a lot about the status and function of blogging in academia, for example, here, and here. And so this post isn’t totally negatory, here’s a link to Cathy Davidson’s helpful suggestions for making digital publications matter.
*But Jessica, the savvy reader (okay, my subconscious) is thinking, here you are blogging at this blog, right now. What’s the difference? Answer: (1) I spent about 25 minutes on this post. On a post I would write for Prof Blog? Upwards of two hours or more. (2) This is fun. I am sipping a glass of pinot noir and doing an MST 3000-stye viewing of the dreadful (truly bad. Have you seen this movie lately?) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with my spouse. That’s not exactly the way “professional” blogging would go.