Saturday, July 16, 2005

Perils of blogging

We have discussed, briefly, why academics blog. Now, along comes Chronicle of Higher Education, with a piece by a pseudonymous professor of liberal arts warning young academics (in particular, those looking for academic jobs) not to blog.

It would never occur to the committee to ask what a candidate thinks about certain people's choice of fashion or body adornment, which countries we should invade, what should be done to drivers who refuse to get out of the passing lane, what constitutes a real man, or how the recovery process from one's childhood traumas is going. But since the applicant elaborated on many topics like those, we were all ears. And we were a little concerned. It's not our place to make the recommendation, but we agreed a little therapy (of the offline variety) might be in order.


You may think your blog is a harmless outlet. You may use the faulty logic of the blogger, "Oh, no one will see it anyway." Don't count on it. Even if you take your blog offline while job applications are active, Google and other search engines store cached data of their prior contents. So that cranky rant might still turn up.

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.

Many academics have responded. Start with Amardeep Singh, and check out the others listed in his post. In particular, I recommend the excellent posts by Tim Burke and Dan Drezner, who first tear apart the arguments presented in the Chronicle article, and then discuss the pros and cons of blogging by junior academics leading to some good advice. Also, don't forget to check out the comments on these three posts.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the links, Abi.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I hope Indian academics don't get scared away from blogging. Your blog is like a beacon out there and I wish more academics would blog - we need academia to get out of the ivory tower and join the conversation actively. Do you know of any other academics in India who are blogging?