Academic Blogs and Idea Pollinators

As “back to school!” is being trumpeted through advertisements and social media, let me suggest another way to get back to where you once belonged: a blog. You’re reading this one. Why not make your own?

I eased back into serious work mode in August by making this post on gender problems in children’s programming. The idea had been marinating for awhile, so I was ready to articulate my argument.

But I also wanted to blog for a different purpose: warming up my writing muscles. I usually research/write throughout the summer, but this summer was filled with selling a house, moving, and spending time with family. Blogging was a gentle way for me to get back in writing shape.

I make more blogging observations in this autoethnographic essay I recently published in The Journal of Contemporary RhetoricEven if you’re not “rhetoric-y” (as a student once told me), the essay speaks to academics from all disciplines who blog or are considering blogging.


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Blogging did not work as I expected. For example, when I tried to inspire conversations about media marathoning, I thought I would see a fluid pattern of communication: people commenting on posts and commenting on one anothers’ comments. What I found instead is that most people communicated directly with me in a hub-and-spoke pattern.

That communication pattern inspired the argument that “my blog created a wide pool of what I refer to as idea pollinators. These pollinators do not merely spread content: they forge something new in collaboration with the host” (p. 37).

[A]n academic blog and the community you cultivate around a research project can help produce a stronger work, one with a more robust idea gene pool (p. 41).

Academic work should ideally involve some time alone with your thoughts and some time collaborating with others–to present ideas, to discuss ideas, to refine ideas. Dialogue is one reason we attend conferences, join societies, and form reading groups. A blog likely won’t take the place of these activities, but it can be an asynchronous, computer-mediated supplement to the in-person exchanges of ideas.

To further that exchange of ideas, let’s see what others are thinking about, writing about, and reading:

Are you an academic blogger? Do you have an idea for an academic blog? Do you have a favorite academic blog? If so, please post in the comments section below. I’ll start. 



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