What is academic blogging about?

From the lowly Ph.D. student at a small school, to the Havard professor, researchers are blogging. Here are some of the reasons why they blog:

  • Research is a social activity. Blogging allows us to keep and create links with diverse researchers whose varied interests keeps our mind open and fresh.
  • Blogging is a personal activity, whereas most of science is consensual. Hence, blogging helps to promote ideas that would not survive otherwise. It is easier to go against the grain in a blog then in a research journal.

My thesis is that blogging will ultimately be recognized as an activity encouraging true innovation.


Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

6 thoughts on “What is academic blogging about?”

  1. A blog helps spreading ideas and helped me starting discussions, not necessarily on the blog. I got feedback by email, or colleagues on the same floor, with whom I may not have much contact, approached me about something I wrote (and sometimes already had forgotten about). In a way, my blog is also a great way of note-taking.

  2. The immediate connection that blogs create between people is really what it’s about in my opinion.

    A blog is instant feedback that creates something akin to telepathy. Blogs and other services (ex. Twitter) allow us to share ideas almost as quickly as we can take them in or think of them.

    And, I think that that instant connection and that ability to communicate directly with the people we want to communicate with in a place that is comfortable for them (Their home office, or on their couch as they watch television) is at the center of the value of blogging.

    As a side note: Your captcha is pretty brilliant – It was the tipping point that made me comment on this post.

  3. Blogs are how I learn about and get ideas for new work. I don’t look through journals or conferences much, except to expand on a subject. Searching blogs is much easier and more fruitful. Poking through the ACM archives, for example, results in a lots of meaningless drivel because so much of it is long winded and pretentious (maybe it has to be?).

    Good blog posts do a good job of distilling the essence of a topic down in language that doesn’t pass for suitable scientific discourse in conference and journal publications. I find it much more stimulating for ideas. It’s like a well-written introduction to a paper that doesn’t have to be follow up with all the details I don’t care about.

    And to add to my appreciation of blogging about research, I can publish it and get feedback much faster than I would if I were submitting to a conference. Even if the feedback isn’t as detailed (and that’s not always the case), it’s still something that stimulates useful discussion.

    I hope to get back to writing some blog posts about my current work now that I’m done with my “term from Hell”.

    (Maybe my thoughts on science blogging are a bit sloppy, but this only a comment on a blog, after all.)

  4. I’m surprised that there isn’t more academic blogging, at least among computer scientists: it seems a natural venue to express ideas about your research, in a less formal way than by writing a paper or tech report. And for grad students, it sounds like a perfect way to procrastinate working on your thesis 🙂

  5. Neil: You’re right but didn’t go far enough: Blogs are tech reports. They aren’t peer reviewed and can be published at will. Maybe formatting is a little more difficult, but you could just link to a PDF instead.

  6. I find that, like Thomas, keeping a blog is a great way to take notes. Unlike the notes in my physical notebooks and scraps of paper, the notes I post to my blog are (hopefully) slightly more coherent.

    I find that pushing an idea up the chain from thinking to whiteboard to notebook to blog to paper is a useful way of assessing ideas. The not-so-good ones generally don’t make it to a blog post since the thought of exposing them to public scrutiny makes them wither and die.

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