There is a bit of a controversy about blogs by academics, especially if they are not yet tenured or are looking for a position (like myself).
When a colleague warned me against blogging, I did a little bit of research and found that a full-scale conversation was already under way. It began with an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by anti-blogger “Ivan Tribble” – “Bloggers Need Not Apply.”
That’s when the committee took a look at their online activity. In some cases, a Google search of the candidate’s name turned up his or her blog. Other candidates told us about their Web site, even making sure we had the URL so we wouldn’t fail to find it. In one case, a candidate had mentioned it in the cover letter. We felt compelled to follow up in each of those instances, and it turned out to be every bit as eye-opening as a train wreck.
Wait, they “took a look at their online activity”?
If the blog was a negative factor, it was one of many that killed a candidate’s chances. More often that not, however, the blog was a negative, and job seekers need to eliminate as many negatives as possible.
See also “Too Much Information” by Scott Jaschik.
Responses and counterarguments (i.e., the trouble with Tribbles):
And, if you’re really into it, check here.
The whole debate has given me pause. On the one hand, I think that this blog is appropriate about respecting privacy and the rights of others. On the other hand, perhaps my political and religious viewpoints could hurt me if I am being considered for a job. I’m not comfortable about hiding my views in some kind of secretive way (as though something was wrong with having had experiences and developed individual opinions). What would be the point of my pretending not to exist in those dimensions?
I do understand that once you are hired, you do represent the university as a whole in some way. Obviously there isn’t much call for a discussion on current events in a class on, say, Emily Dickinson. However, personal views outside the classroom shouldn’t really matter. If the intellectuals who still survive (and even thrive, some of them) in the academic world cannot speak their minds on topics of the day in the public sphere, then what is the point of higher education at all?
For as long as I can remember, there has always been a certain pressure for deferment of expression. You can’t say anything until you’ve gotten into graduate school. You can’t say anything until you’ve defended your proposal. You can’t say anything until you’ve gotten the degree. I don’t agree. I think you should say anything that you can argue, anything that you can defend. Aren’t the sacrifices of going on with education enough? Isn’t one of the very goals of higher education to train citizens to think, to evaluate, to reason, and to speak up for their perspective and position in the public realm?
I took a middle path. I’ve taken my name off the blog – not that it’s so difficult to find out my name, but at least I’m not shining headlights out there. Blog entries are not the same thing as published articles. The ease and immediacy of self-publication does encourage a certain informality, but that is part of its appeal. Still, perhaps I could raise the tone somewhat, in ways that might be refreshing to me as well.
This is an open thread. What are your views of the pros and cons of blogging by (non-tenured?) academics?