Why do I blog: Because DM told me to.

Feb 04 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

No DrugMonkey didn't tell me to blog, but I thought I would add my voice to the brawl discussion about the differences in blogging styles, which I won't rehash when one can find all the links in one post. DrDrA has done the same and I think the perspective from a couple of us "solo" bloggers is important here.

The questions posed by Nature Network's Steffi Suhr are as follow:

* What made you start blogging?
* Is a sense of community an important part of blogging for you, or do you prefer blogging 'solo'?
* Are there blogs you never look at? If yes, why (be nice and don't name names)?
* Who are you blogging for/who are you talking to?
* Do you think you may be getting people exposed to some science through your blog who otherwise wouldn't be?
* Do you think any non-blogger cares about any of the above things?

So, my quick answers are these

* What made you start blogging?
I've talked about this in the past and my reasons have changed over the lifespan of this blog. My problem blogging started with a family blog that for various reasons lost it's purpose. Having been introduced to blogging I started a new one about being a new faculty member, oblivious to the fact that many others were doing the same. Seriously. As I started to poke around a bit and linked up with others, my focus changed from just trying to be informative to those planning on starting a TT position to more of a give and take. Plenty of times I have asked questions of my readership and gotten helpful responses and for various reasons there are things that I ask here that I don't go to my colleagues for. So, while I started as an altruistic semi-narcissist, now I blog more for the exchange of ideas. Maybe that just leaves me with semi-narcissist, I don't know. In the end, it's the most productive way I've found to take a break from the demands of the job during the day. Others read news or sports or FaceBook, I do this.

* Is a sense of community an important part of blogging for you, or do you prefer blogging 'solo'?
As others have pointed out, these aren't mutually exclusive. I do blog solo, but am anything but, in practice. Between regular commenters and interactions with other bloggers, this is a community and it is important to me. Whether I would prefer that my particular circle be formally recognizable to others, probably not.

* Are there blogs you never look at? If yes, why (be nice and don't name names)?
Again, oddly worded, but of course. Assuming that we are only talking about blogs relevant to me and that I am aware of, two things most limit the scope of my reading; 1)time, and 2)content. I only have so much time to devote to this activity, so I can't possibly keep up on all of the relevant blogs. However, there are those I read regularly that are well outside my field because I like the writing. I read to be informed or entertained, and if you're not doing that I can only hang on so long and I rarely go back to a blog after I've decided I'm not interested. I think everyone has a mental anti-blogroll.

* Who are you blogging for/who are you talking to?
Based on comments and domain names from hits, I'm mostly talking to other academics, who are mostly in the sciences. Certainly that's not the complete audience, but how many people outside of the science or academic scope are going to care about the majority of what I write about?

* Do you think you may be getting people exposed to some science through your blog who otherwise wouldn't be?
I think the best I can hope for in this regard is that I expose people in other fields to some of the researchy stuff I sometimes discuss. My field is small and if I write about something that makes a reader at least file it away in their brain, I'm happy with that.

* Do you think any non-blogger cares about any of the above things?
I would estimate that maybe 5% of my readers have blogs of their own. I think people at NN might see this too if they could look up the hits to their posts, but alas...
[update] I realize now that I didn't get what this question was asking the first time around. If I understand it now, I think it's asking whether non-bloggers care about all of this discussion about blogging. In that case, I would say that some probably care, but more those thinking about starting a blog than the average reader, who is probably quite bored by all this yak.

4 responses so far

  • Dr. No says:

    Enjoyed the insights!

  • Alyssa says:

    Excellent! here's mine.I hope you don't mind, but I added your post to the comments thread on Steffi's blog so they'll come read yours too 🙂

  • tideliar says:

    nice one. I should do this too. I have two blogs and can comment in different ways...

  • Requin says:

    I'm a social scientist and I've found reading (hard) science academic blogs - yours, among several others - to be incredibly eye-opening. In my field we do need grant money sometimes, and get it sometimes, but it's not necessary for a lot of the work we do. And the setting up of labs, etc., was something I'd never given much thought to (nor to the post-doc experience, which is something that happens sometimes in my field but certainly is not the norm). As an academic in a large university, these blogs are extremely interesting because they give me insights into how part of the rest of the university functions. As a regular person, the blogosphere has taught me a lot about how scienific research gets funded in this country. (And as a not-yet-tenured, but with several years of teaching experience under my belt faculty member, I read some of your recent teaching-related posts and thought, "I'm sooooo glad I'm past that stage...") I always like hearing teaching stories though.

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