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Blogging: Career Suicide?


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"Here goes nothing. I shouldn't be doing this. I'll be going up for tenure soon," reads the first post of the blog that University of Chicago political scientist Daniel Drezner started in September 2002. Sure enough, this past October, Drezner was denied tenure. And although his department claimed that blogging hadn't been a factor in the decision, junior academics across the blogosphere were traumatized. Drezner had seemed a top candidate. He has impeccable credentials (two masters degrees and a Ph.D. from Stanford); his essays appear in the top journals of his profession; and his next book will be published by Princeton University Press.

 

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of academics keep blogs these days, posting everything from family pictures to scholarly works-in-progress. While few are counting on their Web publications to improve their chances at tenure, many have begun to fear that their blogs might actually harm their prospects. Last July, "Bloggers Need Not Apply," an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about an anonymous Midwestern college's attempt to fill a position, laid out the perils for academic job-seekers who blog. "Our blogger applicants came off reasonably well at the initial interview, but once we hung up the phone and called up their blogs, we got to know 'the real them'—better than we wanted, enough to conclude we didn't want to know more," wrote the pseudonymous columnist.

 

 

 

Slate article

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Well, not really career suicide for him.

"After being turned down by Chicago, he received a number of inquiries and this fall will be a tenured associate professor of international politics at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy."

yes, places like chicago turn down lots of qualified people for tenure, whether they have blogs or not.

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Well, not really career suicide for him.

"After being turned down by Chicago, he received a number of inquiries and this fall will be a tenured associate professor of international politics at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy."

yes, places like chicago turn down lots of qualified people for tenure, whether they have blogs or not.

perhaps.

 

but, why would the turn-down "traumatize junior academics across the blogsphere?" Following your line of reasoning, this should be a non-event. Clearly, it was not.

 

Tenured academics can say anything they wish, regardless of how silly it might be (I'm thinking of Ward Churchill in Colorado) but untenured academics can't afford to offend anyone, for any reason.

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Well, not really career suicide for him.

"After being turned down by Chicago, he received a number of inquiries and this fall will be a tenured associate professor of international politics at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy."

yes, places like chicago turn down lots of qualified people for tenure, whether they have blogs or not.

perhaps.

 

but, why would the turn-down "traumatize junior academics across the blogsphere?" Following your line of reasoning, this should be a non-event. Clearly, it was not.

because by definition the state of being un-tenured (in a tenure-track environment) is conducive to being paranoid. and by definition most bloggers are full of themselves. i'd guess most academics are bemused by their colleagues who are active online, but i'd be highly surprised if anyone cares as long as their publications (or whatever counts in their institutions) are on track. i mean, michael berube has a popular blog. now if you're going to do silly things like place things you posted on your blog on your cv...

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the chronicle article that the slate one references is more interesting, but the examples there are all of people in the job application process with certain kinds of "too much information" blogs.

 

bloggers need not apply

 

In some cases, a Google search of the candidate's name turned up his or her blog. Other candidates told us about their Web site, even making sure we had the URL so we wouldn't fail to find it. In one case, a candidate had mentioned it in the cover letter. We felt compelled to follow up in each of those instances, and it turned out to be every bit as eye-opening as a train wreck

 

...

 

So, to the job seekers.

 

Professor Turbo Geek's blog had a presumptuous title that was easy to overlook, as we see plenty of cyberbravado these days in the online aliases and e-mail addresses of students and colleagues.

 

But the site quickly revealed that the true passion of said blogger's life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of software systems, server hardware, and other tech exotica. It's one thing to be proficient in Microsoft Office applications or HTML, but we can't afford to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science after a few weeks on the job.

 

Professor Shrill ran a strictly personal blog, which, to the author's credit, scrupulously avoided comment about the writer's current job, coworkers, or place of employment. But it's best for job seekers to leave their personal lives mostly out of the interview process.

 

It would never occur to the committee to ask what a candidate thinks about certain people's choice of fashion or body adornment, which countries we should invade, what should be done to drivers who refuse to get out of the passing lane, what constitutes a real man, or how the recovery process from one's childhood traumas is going. But since the applicant elaborated on many topics like those, we were all ears. And we were a little concerned. It's not our place to make the recommendation, but we agreed a little therapy (of the offline variety) might be in order.

 

Finally we come to Professor Bagged Cat. He was among the finalists we brought to campus for an interview, which he royally bombed, so we were leaning against him anyway. But we were irritated to find out, late in the process, that he had misrepresented his research, ostensibly to make it seem more relevant to a hot issue in the news lately. For privacy reasons, I'm not going to go into the details, but we were dismayed to find a blog that made clear that the candidate's research was not as independent or relevant as he had made it seem.

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how can you trust someone in a working environment who tells it all...to the whole world? blogging, to a certain extent, is seeking attention. if my employee is so starved for attention that he is willing to converse with a faceless audience about the mundane details of his life, how easy is it for a rival organisation to steal or coax work related details from the blogger. we are all needy. needy for attention..needy for money..needy for validation etc etc. when neediness becomes a liability, there can be no understanding of 'creative' endeveors. i can undersand why blogging can make employers nervous.

 

edited to add: yea..what that article says...just read it.

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I have an infected toenail. Does that count?  :(

It violated the restraining order? :lol: :)

Heh. You fonny.

 

(If anyone actually cares, the restraining order isn't on my blog--and MF isn't a blog.)

 

Jesus Christ in a hubcap, I hate the word "blog." Can we have a class action suit against the people who popularized that word?

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Guest Suzanne F

What is the difference between a blog and a self-published book? Not much, other than the technology and the reach, that I can see. So I imagine that in academe, the blog would count about the same as the self-published book. That is, as a negative unless the content is really extraordinary.

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What is the difference between a blog and a self-published book? Not much, other than the technology and the reach, that I can see. So I imagine that in academe, the blog would count about the same as the self-published book. That is, as a negative unless the content is really extraordinary.

the difference between a blog and a self published book is the cost and accountability. a whole slew of laws make their appearance when you indulge in libel or slander etc, yes?

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What is the difference between a blog and a self-published book? Not much, other than the technology and the reach, that I can see. So I imagine that in academe, the blog would count about the same as the self-published book. That is, as a negative unless the content is really extraordinary.

the difference between a blog and a self published book is the cost and accountability. a whole slew of laws make their appearance when you indulge in libel or slander etc, yes?

IMHO the perceived differences between a blog and a self-published book are :

 

1. the writer of a blog has much greater potential for taking on the tone of a blabbermouth, hence the perception, rightly or wrongly, of the writer not being discreet

 

2. a blog is pre-sanctioned by no one; even a self-published book has to pass some minimal criteria

 

3. a blog is relatively free to set up so anyone can do it, reducing it's cache BUT it's use of technology increases it's cache

 

4. a blog is more closely associated with a diary and emotional diarrhea

 

5. the audience for a blog is probably younger and broader than that for a s-p book

 

Before you jump down my throat.....I'm not saying these things are universally true. All I'm saying is I think these are the perceptions out there in the world as I see it.

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Guest Suzanne F
What is the difference between a blog and a self-published book? Not much, other than the technology and the reach, that I can see. So I imagine that in academe, the blog would count about the same as the self-published book. That is, as a negative unless the content is really extraordinary.

the difference between a blog and a self published book is the cost and accountability. a whole slew of laws make their appearance when you indulge in libel or slander etc, yes?

As for accountability: A book is covered by laws on libel regardless of who publishes it. The commercial publishers I work for have legal staffs who go over manuscripts pretty carefully looking for potential problems, as a CYA for the publisher; I'm not sure about companies that you pay to publish your book. (See below). It's my understanding that laws regarding material on the Internet (that is, not in any other traditional medium) are still in development, and not everything that appears solely on the Net is covered as fully as print material. (I don't know, because I have not yet needed to find out -- I try not to libel anyone, anywhere, anytime. :lol: I also try not to slander anyone which, if Webster 11 is to be believed, is related not to print but only to oral statements.)

 

Faustian Bargain: I actually had cost in my original post, but took it out because it seems so obvious. So yes, of course. See below also.

 

From what I've seen (admittedly, only cookbooks, dissertations, and the odd [very odd!] front-of-house tell-all), the only criterion the author of a self-published book must pass is the ability to pay. :( In today's Times Book Review, you can find ads for two companies that will "help" you publish your book -- one of which states on its Website: "There's no need to waste years hoping that someone will publish your book." A third, which does not have an ad this week, refers to its work as "Subsidy Publishing."* In any case, the "services" listed do not seem to include legal, but do include the kind of editorial work I do: fixing spelling, punctuation, etc. and trying to make the text at least minimally coherent, along with marketing "help" (don't get me started on marketing books :P ).

 

Rose: I hope you don't consider this jumping down your throat :) especially since I agree with your points 3 and 5, and maybe 4 (but then, we are in the same cohort :( ).

 

*

You, the author, pay a fee for the publication of your book. The amount of the fee varies with each manuscript depending upon length and other factors which contribute to production costs. In return for the fee you pay, we publish your book and you receive 40% of the retail price of every book sold at standard discounts. (The average bookseller gets 40% of the retail price and Vantage Press receives 20%.)

 

NOTE: this is not meant to be an endorsement of any kind of publisher over any other kind. Especially given the "quality" some of the books that do get published without the author having to pay. :(

 

Edited to add: if you have NY Times Select, read Selena Roberts's column today about the repercussions of blogs on the world of sports. :(

Edited by Suzanne F
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