March 14

Too busy to start your own blog?

Earlier this week I asserted that academics need blogs, too. I hope that if you began the article skeptical, that you at least soften to the idea after reading through my points the points of Simon Wren-Lewis.

Let's just assume that you kind like the idea of starting a blog to chronicle your research highs and lows, your other interests, and life in general. One major things still keeps you from hopping over to

I don't have time for blogging!

I hear you! You are loaded down with grad classes or neck-deep in the muck of dissertation writing or turning your dissertation into a book or in your early teaching years with four new classes to prep or getting married or having kids or just trying to grab a beer with friends occasionally. I know, the life of a researcher never slows.

But, if you are toying with the idea and can't quite commit because of time constraints, I have another option to propose to you.

Start a group blog.

I would be willing to bet that some of your favorite times as an academic happen when you kick back with one or two or seven other researchers and talk about anything nerdy. Maybe you talk about some theory that just blew your mind, or a book that you think is terribly written, or someone asks for input on methods, or you tell the group (again) about your dissertation research, or you argue over what “phenomenology” really means.

Why are those moments so fun? Because you are reveling in geeked out nerdiness together, in a casual space.

You can create the same sort of feeling online. You can't share a pitcher of beer (or margaritas, anyone?), but you can create an online, casual space where you all share in glorious geekiness.

The beauty is, actually, that you don't have to be in the same space. That conference where you met the other academic who had amazing ideas and was surprisingly fun to talk to but lives across the country? Instead of emailing back and forth, you could start a blog together.

A group blog is efficient and generates community.

If two of you go in together, you each post once every other week. That's twice a month. You can do that, right? One-two hours twice a month? If three or four of you get together, then you can produce good content with even less individual effort. Economies of scale, here, right? Up to a certain maximum, anyway. I don't know at what point there are too many contributors.

You have immediate community with each other, and with regular, quality content, you'll likely attract an audience, who will want to participate with you in the comments section. It's like a mini discussion group with every post.

Some examples:

At The Junto blog, 18 PhD students and assistant profs contribute blog posts on the subject of early American History.

At the Crooked Timber blog, 20 academics contribute posts about anything related to the humanities. (I love their blog name, too!)

Or, consider Freakonomics, where Levitt and Dubner blog about economics and current events. They're pretty successful.

Grab your buddy.

If you have someone or some people who could share the workload of blogging, you'd cut the time cost and still retain all of those benefits of academic blog.

What do you think?

Academic blogging good idea/bad idea?

Group academic blogging better idea/even worse idea?


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