Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Blogging and the Academy

This evening I read Marcy Willard and Dean Leffingwell's "Blogging to Accelerate Peer Review of Doctoral Dissertations" from e-Research Collaboration: Theory, Techniques and Challenges (2010). A search on Google for this chapter-title suggests nobody has either read it or commented on it. I am not really very surprised.

It is hard to imagine who the article is intended for. It is part new-tech. boosterism and part how-to guide. If you are a blogger already (like me) the how-to guide is not a lot of use and the boosterism will just raise a smile. (The same is probably true if you are a Web 2.0 and social-media technophobe, but the smile will mean "not in a thousand years.")

The only person the chapter might be useful to is someone about to start a PhD, but the boosterism seems to be intended to win over skeptical supervisors, rather than curious PhD students. Weird.

And, of course, as a regular blogger, Willard and Leffingwell's reference to articles from 2005 and 2007 seem pretty dated already. It is a bit like watching Mr Burns demanding that Marge "Fill up" his ancient automobile "with petroleum distillate, and re-vulcanize my tires!" And the boosterism just seems naïve.

Still, it is good to see something on blogging. I have plenty of colleagues, who will spend all day on email and web-searches, but would never dream of publishing a blog or setting up a Facebook page.

"How do you find the time?" I was asked recently. (How indeed.) "What is the point?" I guess now I have a chapter to give them which attempts an explanation. Peer-reviewed, in a book, with references (albeit, some of them already dated), so that you know that it is the real deal …

FWIIW this looks like a much more useful article on "Informal Writing, Blogging and the Academy."

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