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Academic Blogs. Gross.

January 22, 2009

Well maybe they are not as bad as they sound.

The “academic” blogs we had to look at were varied in subject, formation, and performance. One was some crazy bug lady’s thoughts, another the weekly thoughts of a political science professor, and yet another about “the ARTistry of ARThistory ocasionally done ARTfully“. Some are formed around a single person’s ideas, other are collaborative efforts; and some are response’s to other articles while others are original topics. A few are WordPress, some are Bloggers, and other’s are different services. Some have pictures and others more 100% text based. Some look academic and others look like hobbies.

For purposes of this assignment, I will analyze A Walk in the Word, Bug Girl’s Blog, and Crooked Timber. I find them to be relatively distinct from one another, and equally interesting–at least interesting enough for me to critique them.

A Walk in the Word is about linguistics. I find it terribly boring. Sorry. Aesthetically, though, the blog itself is pretty. It’s easy to read and incorporates short text entries coupled with pictures where appropriate. I would consider it an academic blog simply because some of the posts are technical and get at things from a linguistic standpoint instead of a a more lay standpoint. I would also consider it more of an interest blog given the nature of the posts. They are short, written in a friendly tone, and often the subject matter is fit for those not necessarily learning about linguistic stuffs but just people who have an interest in words.

Bug Girl’s Blog was fun to read at first. Her posts are mostly about bugs, but apparently she is from Michigan so sometimes they are about local issues, which are always more prevalent than non-local issues, or bugs. BugGirl incorporates text, pictures, at least one video, a Flikr stream, a bunch of useful links, and even a copyright notice. I can see how people would like reading this. It is a bit cluttered, but thats not unlike a lot of the blogs I see. At least there are no ads. In terms of calling this an academic blog, at first I did not really see it. Upon further reading and looking at the About BugGirl section, I saw why this was in fact an academic blog. I appreciate its more casual tone and I am sure it is relatively successful in its niche (it has over 300,000 hits).

Crooked Timber is the most “academic” out of the three I talk about, but maybe only from an aesthetic view. The color scheme is somber: black borders, white background, black text, and orange links. It deals in academia, but the tone is not always professionally academic. Sometimes it is jocular or laid-back. And the comments follow in a similar tone, too. This blog is written by a list of noted contributors, who claim to be academics. I will not argue with them on that. But I feel like it is a place for those in academia to relax a bit and write for them, not for some Journal.

Ultimately, I probably will not be checking out any academic blogs any time soon. But I can see how they are a nice addition to the academic community–providing an “academic” forum but with a more relaxed atmosphere that is kind of like a playground for scholars and academics. Everyone is still respectful and respected, but the mood in reading these blogs is not as ‘scholarly’ as reading anything from Nature. More power to these blogs.

Above image (c) its author. I make no claims to ownership of image, and image is used solely for scholarly purposes believed by me to be fair use. Image can be found here
One Comment leave one →
  1. Alexandra Lynne permalink
    January 27, 2009 1:14 AM

    Brett,I think the last point you made in your post in addition to your fantastic cartoon highlights a significant aspect of blogging. The blogosphere allows for anyone, whether an academic or not, or a professional blogger or not, to post freely about topics they feel passionate about or have interest in them. Blogging facilitates a conversation between bloggers who might not necessarily be able to strike up a conversation in the “real world.” It also creates a public form for discussion, disputes, and well anything anyone wants to contribute. You do a really great job at being concise and clear throughout your entire post. I truly congratulate you on this because I think it is extremely difficult to write a blog about blogging and still manage to stick to your original focus. But, as blogging goes it is not necessarily supposed to be super-organized, so I would recommend going off an a tangent here and there to explore other ideas.By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed your profile description.-Alex

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