The Reluctant Blogger, or Welcome to 2006!

28 04 2010

It’s true.  After spending so much time studying it, I am actually dipping my toe into the waters of online content creation.  It is certainly not without trepidation that I enter the “blogosphere” well behind the curve of friends, colleagues, and, let’s face it, the general public.  As my friend Zach would say, “Welcome to 2006!”

So what took me so long?  Well, lots of reasons.  Certainly the process of researching and writing a dissertation takes up a lot of time and energy (not to mention my teaching responsibilities).  After a long day of staring at a computer screen, I honestly couldn’t summon the energy to spend my “free time” doing the same, even though I have been arguing for the viability of online community and social networking.   I also wondered if I really had anything to say, which probably strikes some of you as hilarious. Or maybe I thought a blog was too narcissistic. Or maybe I was being narcissistic in my refusal to participate even though I have been an avid reader and champion of blogs. But I’m giving it a go, and will attempt to use this blog to reconcile my academic and non-academic lives, if such a distinction can be made.

Actually, this issue of reconciliation or balance has been the biggest roadblock to my own participation in various forms of online engagement.  The way I speak/write about Britney Spears with my friends (even academic-minded friends) is not necessarily the way I would write about her in an academic paper.  So if I’m trying to position myself as a popular culture “scholar” through this blog,  do I have to keep that part muzzled, at the risk of being branded as “too close to my research subject” or “not scholarly enough” in my analysis?  I never understood the idea that the academic research can possibly be “objective” or distanced in their analysis.  Plus, why study something that does holds no interest or pleasure for me as a researcher?  I wouldn’t even know what questions to ask.  But that’s another post.

Does eating a fried pb & banana sandwich at Graceland count as too close to my research subject?

I don’t want this blog to be too personal, as that raises an entirely different set of issues for me in terms of the other roles in my life.  But I think who I am as a person remains an integral part of who I am and what I “do” as s scholar, and recognize that what I “do” takes many different forms.  Thus, I intend to use this blog as an alternative entrance into the realms of academic writing that allows for such blurred distinctions to exist.

The process of publishing in traditional scholarly venues can be daunting for the junior scholar, not to mention ridiculously slow. This is particularly relevant for  scholars like me, as print journals and books simply cannot keep pace with the flow of popular culture or new media.  Nor do they offer a useful way to enter into conversation with other scholars in the way that blogging potentially can.  I’ve learned a lot from reading other scholars’ blogs and participating (somewhat, that I’m more of a lurker should come as no surprise at this point) in the conversations in the comments sections.  I think blogging can be a really productive space for scholarly engagement.

I envision this blog as space to address current (or relatively current) issues in media, celebrity, popular culture, whatever strikes my fancy in a more timely manner. I want to make it critical and engaged, but it (mostly) won’t be academic writing in the strictest sense. I do plenty of that in other venues.  I do think these musings will help direct my future research in productive ways. Today’s blog post might be the start of tomorrow’s journal article or conference presentation (or vice versa?). But I also just like to talk about what’s going on in media and culture, and this blog is my attempt to enter into conversation with others (both in the field and outside of it) in a meaningful way and on my own terms. There may be fannish gushing or seemingly off-topic tangents at times (I reserve the right to talk about cake at any moment), but that’s just a part of my own process.

Ultimately, when thinking about starting this blog, I realized that I should just stop over-thinking it and just do it in a way that makes me happy and that I find useful.  And people can like or not.  One of the bloggers I interviewed for my dissertation told me “the only way I know how to do what I do is [through] my voice.”  It is in that spirit that I begin this blog.  But I’m still not joining Facebook.

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4 responses

29 04 2010
Mike

I win the first comment contest! Woo.

Some suggestions/constructive criticism:

Put your name on it somewhere.

Change the somewhat depressing gray background to a tiled image, or at least to a brighter color.

Change that orange link color. Bleh.

Spice up entries with images. Long chunks of text make people tired. The sweet spot for human eyeball attention these days seems to be around 300 words at a time.

30 04 2010
erinmeyers

I agree with the bleh on the orange for the link color, but I can’t change it without upgrading and paying.

I also can’t change the gray background color. But I kind of like it anyway, design geek. 😉

I’m not loving the theme choices overall, but maybe I’m just being picky. But I’m not so unhappy that I want you to make me a new design. Because that just sounds like more work than you actually want to do for me.

And I will have images! Hoo boy, will I have images in regular content oriented posts. Didn’t really consider any relevant ones for this, but I’ll think about it.

30 04 2010
a dark ally

Oh yea, baby! Ready to take the 21st century by storm! I think it looks great. Tell that geeky boyfriend to hasselize somebody’s else blog 😉

I think you’ll be more successful unmuzzled. You’ve got the wit to pull it off. Blogs are not academic writing; do that “there”! Someone observed/queried about my blog recently, “…but you’re playing with language there, right?” (Not that you want to do anything like I do unless you want a perpetual readership in the single digits.)…. but Indeed!

Be academic when ya gotta and for the rest – play with Erin-Dimensionality!

22 05 2010
A.V.Bakenes

The journey of a thousand words begins….with an outline. Looking forward to your blogging and resulting conversations. It will be great to have a venue to discuss and interact with you about a fascinating suject.




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