A blogging downside

At one of the blogging talks I gave recently Niall Sclater asked me what were the downsides to academics blogging. I gave an unsatisfactory answer about it being a possible time sink and also you could get yourself in trouble saying things about people or projects. It occurred to me afterwards (I was always one of those people who had a witty reply two days after an event) that a very real downside for many academics is that it isn’t recognised as a legitimate academic activity. For instance, there is no allocation for ‘blogging’ in my annual work plan. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think I have written fewer academic journal papers since becoming a serious blogger. If I was chasing promotion then blogging might be an activity I could ill afford alongside those that are deemed promotion-worthy.

As a Professor with the luxury of tenure I can, to an extent, ignore some of these pressures. That’s kind of what tenure is about, although I like to think I pull my weight still on University projects. But if I were a hungry, ambitious lecturer seeking promotion to senior level, would blogging be a help or a hindrance?

5 Comments

  1. For instance, there is no allocation for ‘blogging’ in my annual work plan.
    As someone with a stake in your annual work plan, and with the work planning round just kicking off … we can work on that if you want!
    Seriously – I think this is an entirely legitimate activity for you to be doing, and if it helps you to account for it in work plan terms then let’s do that. I wouldn’t expect any major kickback on it, but if there I’m up for taking it on as a debate.

  2. Alan – thanks for the heads up on Stephen’s piece, I hadn’t seen that. He’s right, and it was kind of what I was getting at with the phrase the economics of reputation, but as you suggest, it’s not there yet.
    Doug – thanks for the offer. It’s strange – although I make a big play for blogging as legitimate activity, I’m not sure I actually want it to be pulled in to the mainstream. Perhaps I enjoy it precisely because it hasn’t been subjected to official processes…
    Martin

  3. “If I was chasing promotion then blogging might be an activity I could ill afford alongside those that are deemed promotion-worthy.”
    Yep – I’ve blown it through blogging (in part), outreach/public engagement too… ( http://robofesta.open.ac.uk )
    ho humm…. depends on what you think is the right thing (or a Good Thing) to do, maybe?
    😉
    tony

  4. Tony – I think it depends on what sort of blogger you are too. Mine is sort of a by-product of ‘stuff I am doing as part of my job’ and ‘stuff I am thinking about when running/walking dog’ – as such it doesn’t actually take up much time. I think it’s a different prospect if you are undertaking tasks, so that you can blog about them. Then it is a much bigger drain on your time (although still valuable).
    And yes, I’ve always done what I thought was interesting rather than what I thought would get me promotion – luckily my gambles have paid off!
    Martin

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