Sorry for the self-absorbed metablogpost today, but I was thinking about Blog Things during my week-long blog break last week and wanted to write about a few of these issues and questions:
1. Did I miss blogging during my blog-break?
Yes, but not as much as in previous years when I have taken a week off from blogging.
2. What does that mean?
I don't think I am burned out on blogging yet. During my week off, I thought about a lot of things that I wanted to discuss in the blog, so I have topics I want to write about and discuss. Blogging is still (mostly) fun.
I have found, though, that I still hear a persistent voice squawking anticipated comments at me while I am writing a post. I've written before about how this is helpful because it makes me work hard to be as clear as possible about the content and tone of my post (although, as the comments inevitably demonstrate, there is no avoiding some ambiguity and misunderstanding). This second-guessing is also annoying, though, and I have to work at not writing defensive-sounding posts as I anticipate the inevitable comments from those who think 'feminazi' is a really clever insult and from those who think that all professors are evil selfish jerks whose main goal in life is to torture hardworking students, ideally while we arrogant professors are raking in a high salary, not teaching, and taking lots of vacations.
I don't want to become a person who feels contempt for my readers, even the most ignorant and mean ones, because that's not a good place to be. Upon reflection, I decided that I have maintained a mostly optimistic view of the slice of humanity that comments on blogs, despite the at-times high level of incivility and mean-spiritedness.
3. Do I want to stay in my little corner of Blogspot or do I want to move somewhere else and be part of a science blogging community?
"You can hide on your own little Blogspot blog." -- Bora
Gosh, I didn't even realize I was hiding. Now that I know, should I do something about it?
That was (somewhat mean-spirited) sarcasm, but this is a question I have been pondering: What are the pros and cons of being in a (possibly more high profile) blog community?
In no particular order, some possible issues:
Blog Traffic: Bloggers in blogging communities get more traffic. Do I care about the magnitude of my blog traffic? Yes and no. I am not particularly concerned about this, but I do care a bit. This blog sort of has the mission of Explaining Academia from the point of view of a mid-career professor at a research university, and to the extent that such a goal is useful, more blog traffic is good. At the same time, though, I don't feel any great blog-zeal about upping my numbers, as long as they are not so low as to make this endeavor a not-good use of my time.
Audience: A significant number of my posts are about general academic issues, not just related to being a Science Professor. I like being in a general environment of more-or-less my own design, discussing things with academics (and others) of all sorts, not just other science people. Would non-scientists still find and read my blog if I were in a science blogging collective? I don't know the answer to that. How many of you non-scientist readers regularly read ScienceBlogs or others of that ilk?
Independence: I know that bloggers in the various blog communities can write about whatever they want, but they have to mostly like the overall sponsoring organization or group and its philosophy, perhaps in a way that is more direct than any feelings I may have about Blogspot's overlord (Google). See: Recent Angst-Laden Exodus from ScienceBlogs by Various Bloggers. Also, blogging groups such as ScienceBlogs and others are monetized; many have ads. I do not want ads popping up around my blog posts. Bloggers who make $ pegged to their blog traffic are also open to accusations that they write incendiary posts just to get their traffic up. Their motives are suspect, even if that is not a fair judgment in many cases.
Community: This is the most appealing reason for considering being part of a blogging collective (along with the possibility of having a much more awesome blog banner), but I haven't really wrapped my blog-mind around it yet because I already feel like I'm part of a community of sorts. Maybe I am delusional, but I don't feel like I am in some remote bloggy wilderness while the other science bloggers are in some cozy blog-camp toasting marshmallows and singing blog songs together. Nevertheless, would it be more fun to blog, at least part-time, in the same venue as other bloggers I like and admire? Maybe it would, or, since I don't actually know the answer to this question, maybe I should at least try it.
4. How long will I keep blogging? Is the end in sight?
Often I get requests for topics I have already discussed, in part because the archive is now quite large and it's hard to sift through the ever-growing pile to find relevant old posts. Do I want to spend my blog-future going over the same old topics, even if they are perpetually relevant to new crops of academics/readers? No.. but I also don't mind revisiting some topics from time to time, especially if my subsequent experiences have given me a different perspective or I have new anecdotes to describe.
Even so, perhaps it would be more interesting if I left new discussion of these issues to other bloggers, young and old. Perhaps there should be more turnover in the blogosphere?
This is yet another blog-question for which I have no answer. Four years ago, I never imagined I would still be doing this, so maybe it's better to just take it one blog-day at a time and not have a long-term plan.
5. Are my cats still the cutest, most entertaining and affectionate felines on the planet? Is my daughter still an amazing, happy, interesting person even though she is a teenager and somehow has become taller than her mother? Will my husband ever stop acquiring new bicycles and bike-gizmos? Is my job still extremely fun and rewarding despite the 60+ hour work weeks and the crazy colleagues and accountants, and the dreaded faculty meetings?
Yes, yes, no, and yes.
8 months ago