Maria Konnikova’s Scientific American post (hat tip to Abram Fox) on blogging in graduate school got me thinking.
Academia as a whole is still quite skeptical of popular writing and anything that takes time from serious academic pursuits. These include reading articles in your discipline, reading publications and books by your field leaders and co-workers, working on writing up your own studies for publication (the more and the faster, the better), and networking and presenting your work at academic conferences. Having a blog? Freelancing on the side? Working on pieces for the non-academic, a.k.a, popular, press? Not very high on the list. In fact, in direct opposition to the list, as each of these pursuits takes time away from what you should be doing.
Konnikova doesn’t even touch the big issue that I think continually hampers academic work, particularly in the humanities: deeply insular research and writing in which projects are reserved (even concealed!) until they are %110 ready for publication. Of course, this preemptively shuts off the discussion and collaboration we spend so much time praising in symposia and grant applications.
I’m relaunching this site in an effort to chronicle some of the less traditional projects I’m working on at the Department of Art History & Archaeology at the University of Maryland. I certainly hope to connect to other scholars interested in incorporating technology into their research and teaching (and please, connect away.) My other hope, however, is to burnish the kind of clear writing ability that Konnikova exercises through blogging, a kind of writing that necessarily forces one to think more clearly as well.
So, watch this space.