Sunday, November 7, 2004
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So what do Chicago's graduate students do in their spare time?
Well, some of them set up one of those blog thingmabobs. Go check out Political Arguments, a group blog comprised of several U of C Ph.D. students in political theory.
This post tackles the whole red-blue question -- go check it out.
I confess to some guilt at linking to them -- because I'm not convinced that it's a great idea for graduate students to be blogging. This is not because they have nothing to say -- quite the opposite. The problem is that for grad students, the opportunity cost of blogging is less time spent on their own research and reading -- activities that are kind of important in terms of getting their advanced degrees.
Of course, I'm sure my senio colleagues have the same attitude towards this little enterprise, so consider this a "pot calling the kettle black" kind of disapproval.posted by Dan on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM
No one can study all the time. Remember your post about the value of the social lunch?posted by: Brian Ulrich on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I disagree. Learning is as much about dialogue as it is about solitary research. That is, "dialogue" as both new ideas and opening oneself to critique. Students blogging about what they're field of study is fantastic in my opinion. It's a harmless testing ground where you can sharpen your ideas.posted by: Xavier Botero on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
They're clueless liberals. But I guess that's progress. Twenty-thirty years ago they would have been clueless leftists.posted by: W on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
It should be "their field of study" above. Sorry, but I'm a damned pedant.posted by: Xavier Botero on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
It seems to me that while in grad school, one needs a place to brainstorm and a sounding board for good ideas and the like.
Granted, at a big program like UC, you can probably find that down the hall rather than 1000 miles away, but I think the point still stands.posted by: Chris Lawrence on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
I've never been a grad student, but I imagine a blog would be a great release valve. And Chris above makes a good point about a sounding board. You could get opinions from readers across the country and even across the globe, which can only enrich your own thinking.posted by: Elle Wiz on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Many thanks to Prof. Drezner for linking to our blog. I just wanted to point out that only three out of the eight members of Political Arguments are from the University of Chicago. The others hail from New School University, Yale Law, Harvard Law, MIT, and UVA.
As to the usefulness of grad student blogging, it does involve the risk that one may neglect one's "serious" work for hastily-written but topical op-eds. Blogging is a modest and, one would hope, measured attempt at public intellectualism, and all public intellectuals must suffer the temptation of sophistry. The best insurance against such risk is also the advice that veteran bloggers give most often: stick to what you know. This also has the benefit of turning blogs into testing grounds for ideas that may eventually be developed into publishable work.
My concern currently runs to pluralism. This election, with its reproof of "divisiveness", its dooms of "regionalism" and its omens about the "values-vote", is a godsend. For once, my kind political theory is plainly relevant.
So readers, save me from my folly! Comment on Political Arguments and fan the hope that someday, goaded by your helpful and incisive critique, I'll staple a few posts together and get a paper out of it.posted by: Victor on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
problem is that for grad students, the opportunity cost of blogging is less time spent on their own research and reading -- activities that are kind of important in terms of getting their advanced degrees.
Says the man who got a paper out of blogging!
Even a grad student should know the difference between Tommy Franks and Thomas Frank.posted by: Peter on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
Absolutely. I had a blog for the first two years of my doctoral program in economics (now in my third year), and it was hugely costly. Because it's very addictive to blog and because graduate school is so damn hard, you can spend far too much time on it and it ends up taking you away from your research. I plan to reopen mine once I'm tenure-track, and only then once I get a keen sense of the specific research I'll be involved in for the next five years. Once the uncertainty settles down, I think I'll start it up again.posted by: scott cunningham on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
There are usually more productive ways to spend time, but blogging is a better form of procrastination than most.posted by: Dingo on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
What's the old saying about PhD's students studying more and more about less and less?
I think it's good that these students are engaging in the real world, addressing big questions. In my limited grad school experience, I knew how tough this could be.posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.07.04 at 10:26 AM [permalink]
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