Scholarly Blogging: Moving toward the Visible College
Blogging boils down to three major settings: the notebook, the coffee house, and the editorial page. The phrases themselves are rather self-explanatory; however there is one more type that seems to be a hybrid division: the scholarly blog.
A decade ago Harrison and Stephen explained why computer networking was of such interest to academics. It played to long-held ideals among scholars that had yet to be realized: “unending and inclusive scholarly conversation; collaborative inquiry limited only by mutual interests; unrestrained access to scholarly resources; independent, decentralized learning; and a timely and universally accessible system for representing, distributing, and archiving knowledge.” (118)
Scholarly blogs provide most, if not all, of these opportunities. If anything they follow the four major themes of blogging practices:
- They rely on networked audiences.
- They encourage conversation between readers.
- They are generally a low-intensity activity.
- Depending on the blog, they can portray a transparent thinking-in-process style.
Let’s talk about the three bog settings, first being “The Notebook.” Like any other diary of sorts, this type of blog allows you to jot down any ideas, quotes, dreams, ice cream flavors, or whatever else suits your fancy. It’s a way of thinking out loud without really verbalizing anything (Unless you’re like me, where you type and talk at the same time). Taken to a more professional level:
The notebooks of many scholars, from Faraday to da Vinci to Gramsci to Darwin, have opened up new realms to later researchers. While the use of such a notebook differs from field to field, in sciences it might be argued that the ab notebook represents a clear expression of everything the scientist does. (119)
As Cory Doctorow put it, the notebook blog is like his “outboard brain.” Through links he is able to draw lines to relevancy thus making his simple lecture notes even more interesting and interactive.
Nest, we have “The Coffee House.” Although not very common in the large-scale blogosphere, The Coffee House community can still be traced through the hyperlinks recorded back and forth between them.
Many have suggested that blogging in the modern recapitulation of pamphleteering, but like blogs, the coffee houe thrived on mixing and exchanging the opinions and ideas of those from a variety of backgrounds. Like blogs, however, those with particular interests or political leanings were likely to flock to the same coffeehouse. (120)
Like interests are attracted to like interests. Hmm, seems legit.
Lastly, we have “The Opinions Page,” which, like any other Op. Ed. page in a newspaper, represents an opinion not necessarily expressed by a journalist. It represents information provided by those who wish to educate the public and “engage in public issues.” Scholarly blogging finds its foothold here. Blogs provide a forum where those communication barriers aren’t so prominent.
However, some scholars are finding it tough to distinguish work versus play, what’s personal versus what’s professional, what is appropriate versus what is way too much information.
In the end, though blogging is here to stay. At least, for a little while. It provides that bit of communication other forums may be lacking.