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Blogging for Scholars
Does your prof blog? If he or she does, you had better know about it. Professors who blog do so for a variety of reasons. Some are musing aloud over new ideas or research that will later appear in scholarly journals and on your library’s shelves, virtual or physical. Some are exploring new ways of expression or appealing to a larger audience than they get in the paid lecture hall. Or they may be trying out a side of themselves that they don’t quite dare expose fact-to-face with their primary community.
Years ago, academics spoke of an „invisible college,“ a college that existed beyond the brick and mortar one in which they were employed to teach and research. It was formed by other professors and students, especially graduate students, pursuing similar and related fields of interest, regardless of where they were geographically. It was the group that read preprints of articles or conference papers and who collaborated and competed in similar research. That invisible college is now a bit more visible–it can be centered in an easy-to-create-and-maintain blog and all those who read and contribute to it.
Whatever scholars‘ reasons for blogging, and whether they’re a part of the college or not, students can enjoy and learn from blogs run by academics all over the world. Unlike most classroom assignment reading, blog reading is informal and can be done in short sessions, perhaps when you need a break. And if you start to follow an academic blog or two, you probably will see a different side of academic life than you have known so far.
You may run into individual entries from academic blogs of interest just by running a search query in a general search engine. But if you want to get a semi-structured idea of what’s out there, go to PhDweblogs (http://www.phdweblogs.net/), a world-wide listing of over 400 Weblogs. You can scan descriptions by research area (social sciences, computer science, language and literature, multidisciplinary, economics, and business), country, or language and then hop to the blogsite itself. Most of these blogs are very interesting–the authors are not even professors yet, but Ph.D. students, most of whom write freely about their research but also their lives, wherever they may be.
Professors Who Blog (http://rhetorica.net/professors_who_blog.htm) also provides a good listing of blogs, many of them in the area of media and politics, but the list has not been updated since May 2005. It’s still useful–while one might expect that blogs come and go quickly, there is really more stability than we expected. A Chronicle of Higher Education article from June 6, 2003 (http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i39/39a01401.htm) quoted Jack M. Balkin, professor of law, director of Yale University’s Information Society Project, and Balkinization blogger (http://balkin.blogspot.com/), who predicted that the popularity of blogs would change quickly–those at the top of the popularity poll would be replaced in two years. We didn’t check popularity, but of the nine notable blogs pointed out in the Chronicle article three years ago, nine are still very active, showing posts from the past week if not the current day. Only one is now inaccessible, and one other showed a last entry from 2004.
In terms of numbers, there are more blogs on the subjects of news media, politics and computer science than in humanities and other scientific and social science topics. But there are some noteworthy ones in all areas. The Best of the Web Blog Directory (http://blogs.botw.org/) lists popular and academic blogs by broad subject categories (arts, science, business, science, computers) and several subcategories within each. A long list of history blogs appears at History News Network (http://hnn.us/articles/1572.html). Good leads to blogs of interest to economists are at RFE: Blogs and Commentaries (http://rfe.org/showCat.php?cat_id=96), and links and descriptions in social science areas can be found at Social Science Weblogs (http://www.sociosite.net/weblogs.php)
Librarians Who Blog
One academic group that seems to blog more than most disciplines is librarians, and you can find some intriguing blog titles at the Open Directory Project: Blog Driver’s Waltz, Christina’s Library Rant, Explodedlibrary.info, Librarian on the Edge, Odd Things in Pitt’s Libraries, and more.
Frequently librarians blog to announce and comment on new and interesting Internet resources. For example, there’s Marylaine Block’s weekly Neat New Stuff on the Net (http://marylaine.com/neatnew.html). Gary Price started his daily ResourceShelf blog (http://www.resourceshelf.com/) when he was reference librarian at George Washington University. Since 2001, ResourceShelf has grown into a group blog with several contributing editors, Gary Price became a fulltime library and Internet research consultant, and now is librarian advocate and director of online information resources at Ask.com. Gary and his ResourceShelf team still post anywhere from 3 to a dozen resource entries, with useful links and extensive commentary, 7 days a week.
There’s lots of good blog reading out there.
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