The Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas

While blogging has real intellectual payoffs, it is not conventional academic writing and shouldn’t be an academic’s main focus if he or she wants to get tenure.



But to dismiss blogging as a bad idea altogether is to make an enormous mistake. Academic bloggers differ in their goals. Some are blogging to get personal or professional grievances off their chests or, like Black, to pursue nonacademic interests. Others, perhaps the majority, see blogging as an extension of their academic personas. Their blogs allow them not only to express personal views but also to debate ideas, swap views about their disciplines, and connect to a wider public. For these academics, blogging isn’t a hobby; it’s an integral part of their scholarly identity. They may very well be the wave of the future.



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Academic blogs offer the kind of intellectual excitement and engagement that attracted many scholars to the academic life in the first place, but which often get lost in the hustle to secure positions, grants, and disciplinary recognition. Properly considered, the blogosphere represents the closest equivalent to the Republic of Letters that we have today. Academic blogs, like their 18th-century equivalent, are rife with feuds, displays of spleen, crotchets, fads, and nonsenses. As in the blogosphere more generally, there is a lot of dross. However, academic blogs also provide a carnival of ideas, a lively and exciting interchange of argument and debate that makes many scholarly conversations seem drab and desiccated in comparison. Over the next 10 years, blogs and bloglike forms of exchange are likely to transform how we think of ourselves as scholars. While blogging won’t replace academic publishing, it builds a space for serious conversation around and between the more considered articles and monographs that we write.–Henry FarrellThe Blogosphere as a Carnival of Ideas (Chronicle)

A welcome antidote to the Chronicle’s recent Tribble twaddle.