Blogging, publishing, institutions and the media

Posted October 10th, 2008 by Paul Ayres

This is the fourth and final post in a series of blog posts this week taking a closer look at blogging, asking why you may want to blogĀ  and looking at how blogging can interact with other arenas, such as the academic publishing process, institutions and the mainstream media.

An article in the latest THE – By the Blog: academics tread carefully – suggests that there is a reluctance amongst academics to write publicly and take part in the blogosphere – a topic that I’ve touched on before. But it highlights the idea that the intersection of blogging and other arenas may be a barrier to those in the academic community taking the plunge – this is probably worth a little exploration.

The academic publishing process – blogging is very different from the traditional academic process, with no peer review etc., but this brings advantages too – the ability to respond quickly to events, the chance for ideas to evolve and be improved by the wisdom of crowds, plus the freedom to change your mind! While the article is right to point out that there is a chance that research ideas may be stolen if they are shared publicly, it also raises the possibility that being the first to blog a result could lead to getting some credit for it.

Relations with institutions – there isn’t anything inherently dangerous or evil about blogging – it is just a quick and easy web publishing platform – but that does mean academics need to be as careful what they blog about, as they would be on a hand crafted web page or in a publicly archived email list – Derek Morrison’s advice that you “don’t affect the share price” in what you say online, is a fair summation of the limits of academic freedom – or the equivalent of telling students that what they say online could be read by their parents!

The media – let’s say that you are pretty keen on blogging, have been for quite a while and you get the chance to talk about it to someone from the mainstream media and apparently you say:

“Some academics are dipping their toes in the water but many aren’t entirely comfortable with using the medium to voice their opinions.”

Rather than being disappointed that the least positive thing you said about blogging is the one thing that makes it into the article or having a vague feeling that you may well have said those words, but not necessarily in that order – relax in the knowledge that as you are a blogger, you have the chance to express yourself in words of your own choosing, without being edited!

So while there are indeed pros and cons, rights and responsibilities, pluses and minuses to the world of blogging – don’t be afraid of dipping your toes in, the water’s lovely!

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