No time to do this justice at all, but is it just me, or is this post on blogging over at IHE somewhat annoying? The author, Jeff Rice, argues for greater "playfulness" in blogging and that being too "serious" about blogging robs bloggers of the opportunity to experiment with a new genre. Well enough. I had a little bit of difficulty following the logic throughout the whole article, but sure, it's an argument.
Yet again there are slams at the anonymous/pseudonymous bloggers, who, apparently, are way too "serious" about our blogging. Where I missed the logic, I guess, is what anonymity and seriousness really have to do with each other. Anyone want to explain? A quote:
Lost in this seriousness [of anonymous bloggers] are a number of quite amazing things blogging has provided writers: ability to create discourse in widely accessed, public venues, ease of online publishing, ability to write daily to a networked space, ability to archive one’s writing, ability to interlink writing spaces, ability to respond to other writers quickly, etc.
Ummm...okay. I kind of thought that was in fact what I and lots of other anonymous bloggers were doing. Guess I was wrong (I'm not academic enough).
But what bother me more are the comments (always the cherry on top of any IHE post). What do we get? More snarky comments about bloggers who talk about politics, or movies, or, you know, life. Because after all, why would you want to do that? when you can be talking about Big Ideas?
I differ with you on whether people should be seen as human or not. Being seen as human seriously runs the risk of alienating people. For instance, some people like sports. While many Americans consider sports to be some sort of “lowest common denominator,” I think that anyone that talks about sports in public to strangers isn’t serious about their work (and I will not hire them.)
Also, in encouraging anonymous blogs, those who do so are indirectly adding to the wealth of horrible material on the Internet. It’s surely not a good idea to whine about co-workers on a public website, but the anonymous blogs are filled with such whining. and talk about relationships and favorite albums and whatnot. If they’d post under their own names, the blogs might be more interesting.
Instead, if a blogger sets an example for other people (students, professors, and outsiders) of being continuously aware of all the scholarship, and its implications in a field, there is no reason to call him unprofessional. Ironically, it seems that people in “practice” in various fields (lawyers, engineers, accountants, etc.) seem to have a much easier time of staying on topic.... But, for some odd reason, too many academics feel compelled to talk about politics, their grandchildren, and movies.
Thankfully, Jonathan Dresner offers a great response (quoted at length):
The chief virtue of blogging is easier communication; the chief characteristic of academic blogging is.... diversity!
Historians and Asian Studies scholars, my own fields, tend to a more textual, source-oriented and straightforward presentation. My blogs are visually simple, but nonetheless communicative and (dare I say it?) fun, at least for me. Why should I be mucking around with styles that don’t appeal to ME, just to satisfy someone else’s Bakhtinian judgements?
The caution of anonymous/pseudonymous bloggers is not, the author says, the point, but he spends an awful lot of time on it. Academia is a society as well as a business, a set of disciplines, an educational endeavor; anonymity is a perfectly reasonable response to that social dynamic, and gives bloggers a chance to be much more free and experimental, not to mention honest.
Pleating “Blog like me” is no more convincing than the Ivan Tribble “don’t blog” whine. If we take public writing seriously (and if blogging is anything, it is public), its because it’s public: there’s no shame in being serious about the face we present to the world.
Anyway. No time for any cogent conclusions; I have to run back to campus. And survive the next two days of work!