Friday, September 16, 2005

Blogging Graduate Students

Rebecca Anne Goetz continues to seek data on blogging graduate students. The origins of this lie in Ivan Tribble's latest outing for his position that having a blog hurts students on the job market. I've already e-mailed answers to her questions, but thought I'd share some of what I said here.

Basically, academic blogging at its best can represent what Tim Burke thinks an academic conference should be. Originally, I began blogging because it was a good way for me to contribute to a public discussion of issues I cared about, but increasingly it also serves as a means to discuss issues that affect us all as a profession. Reading and participating in blog discussions has helped sharpen my sense of what it means to be a professional historian and academic while keeping me in touch with many currents that may not affect my dissertation work, but are still important to the field as a whole. At the same time, it's a valuable means of networking. My recent trip to Egypt was much more valuable thanks to my knowing folks at The Arabist Network and LAT than it would have been if I had simply done nothing but see the sites and work in the archives.

I can understand why people might be suspicious of blogging, because it often makes the news for stuff like this. I also recognize that because I'm in a subfield where Juan Cole made it a legitimate activity early on, I might not be getting the full sense of anti-blog prejudice that's out there. However, I'm willing to argue that it's concrete professional benefits outweigh those disadvantages, and that while a search committee might frown if they learn I have a blog, the subtle impact of blog participation on the rest of my persona will make me a stronger job candidate in the long run.


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