This looked like an interesting group of talks by people whose blogs I like to follow: Brad DeLong, Scott Eric Kaufman, Tedra, and so on. Here are DeLong’s notes on the event:
Hope we see something more formal emerge from these discussions. In particular, I appreciated these questions about the tradeoffs faced by grad students when they circulate their ideas forums like this one:
Some history graduate students seem unduly alarmed–that people will steal their ideas, that people will hold what they write online against them, and more generally that participating in freewheeling intellectual exchanges in a forum in which nobody knows that you are a dog (or a graduate student) will cause them to be classified as insufficiently deferential to established hierarchies, inclined to rock the boat, and hence not worth hiring.
Or are they unduly alarmed? Jobs are scarce and criteria of excellence are in dispute, so one black mark assessed by one member of a hiring committee may be deadly.
These kinds of questions are of course extremely relevant, especially for those who wish to move into full-time employment in the academy. From my own (privileged) point of view, however, I think it’s also worth thinking about how blogging functions in the aggregate, and how its impact might affect the more formal structures of scholarly communication. In other words, can the presence of larger and less homogeneous publics, or less credentialed writers, actually improve the discourse taking place both in- and outside the academy? (what would happen to a pop radio station that played only Juilliard graduates?)
Blogs seem to play an important role in academic life nowadays, if only to remind grad students (and former grad students) of an active, maybe even interactive audience, that exists outside their dissertation committee and various authority figures. Why wouldn’t this improve their writing?