Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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"Confessions of a scholar-blogger"

That's the title of a short essay I wrote for the University of Chicago Magazine, the U of C's alumni magazine. Here's the opening and closing paragraphs:

Since becoming an assistant professor, I have authored one book, edited another, and published a respectable quantity of scholarly articles. And yet I can say with a fair degree of certainty that if you added up the number of people who have read any and all of these works, it would probably be less than the number of hits I receive daily on my Web log—an online journal I’ve kept for the last two-and-a-half years. That fact simultaneously exhilarates and appalls me....

Will I still be blogging in five years? I honestly don’t know, but my suspicion is that if I do, there will be plenty of sabbaticals thrown in. One undeniable effect of having a successful blog is the inculcation of a sense of duty to keep up regular posts. Even the thought of blogging on a regular basis for half a decade exhausts me. However, the thought of not blogging about the interesting ideas or information that comes my way bothers me even more.

Thanks to Mary Ruth Yoe for her crisp editing -- and thanks to Jacob Levy for coining the term "scholar-blogger" in the first place.

You should check out the rest of the magazine's contents -- as I've noted in the past, it's consistently interesting and informative. For example, check out Sharla Stewart's article on Richard Thaler and the rise of behavioral economics. Stewart has a good track record in writing about the social sciences -- her essay on the "perestroika" movement two years ago remains the single-best thing I've read on the subject.

And be sure to check out UChiblogo -- the magazine's weblog. This post recaps Francis Fukuyama's lecture from last week looking back on "The End of History?"

posted by Dan on 02.15.05 at 12:56 PM


Five years from now, scholar bloggers will blog from Mars via LASER BEAMS!!!!!111!!

posted by: praktike on 02.15.05 at 12:56 PM [permalink]

Great article... but why do they have you down as a Cornell grad?

posted by: reader on 02.15.05 at 12:56 PM [permalink]

...if you added up the number of people who have read any and all of these works, it would probably be less than the number of hits I receive daily on my Web log—

There seems to be a long history of proto-scholar-blogging, including things like Michael Faraday's famous Christmans lectures, the Chautauqua Institution, the once-ubiquitous Mechanics' Institutes, and such. Anybody ever done a history of these?

posted by: Davis X. Machina on 02.15.05 at 12:56 PM [permalink]

There's always group-blogging if you worry about keeping up a critical mass in the face of evolving life demands. Eventually these will have interfaces that allow visitors to customize their view to sort out posters that don't thrill them. Or using feeds, people will have their own interfaces that compile a personized metablog composed of posts from sites they like. I think that's already happening, although I am not sure about the format.

posted by: bk on 02.15.05 at 12:56 PM [permalink]

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