With the rise of the knowledge economy and the spread of decentralizing technology, the academy is ceding authority and attention to businesses, nonprofits, foundations, media outlets, and Internet communities. Even more significant, in my mind, the academy may be losing something else: its hold over many of its most promising young academics, who appear more and more willing to take their services elsewhere — and who may comprise an embryonic cohort of new “postacademic intellectuals” in the making.
The Crooked Timber says this:
Blogging offers academics a means of connecting with that wider public without having to leave the academy....blogging isn’t ever going to be a substitute for academia, but it is a valuable ancillary activity. It allows you to write pieces that may or may not connect to your scholarship, but that never could see the light of day in an academic journal. At the same time, this can feed back in valuable and unexpected ways into your academic work. I suspect that over the longer term blogging will become increasingly attractive to scholars who want to connect with that wider audience, but who don’t want to give up their scholarship. You can become a low-rent public intellectual, without having to give up your day job.
Personally, I think blogging is a fantastic way to reach out not only to the public but to professors' own students.
Here are some other unique ways that blogging can be useful for professors:
- Intra-class blogs. Instead of the comments being limited to the classroom, set up a class blog that allows students to think and participate in the debate of ideas outside of the classroom.
- Tired of teaching all those former students, who you find out graduated with their PhD at Harvard and forgot to let you know? Stay in touch with them through the blog.
- Going on sabbatical and feel distanced from your students? Start a blog. Print some business cards, and maintain contact with your current students and professors.
- Blogs provide an outlet of escape and scapegoat of frustration. Spend a few minutes posting something interesting. Wait. Breathe deeply. Feel better.