meta: March 2007 Archives

And the winner is...

| | Comments (3)

Donna! After sitting on 1999 comments for almost 48 hours, I was about ready to comment myself and just buy a book for me. Then I remembered that nothing stops me from buying me books anyway. (Daywatch anyone?) At long last, though, Donna contributed the following:

By the way, hasn't anyone made comment #2000 yet?

Yes, yes someone has. Thanks to that comment, Donna will soon receive an undisclosed item from her hastily assembled wish list, delivered to her door by the fine folks at

It's a little anticlimactic, I know, for the 2000th comment to be a meta-comment about the 2000th comment. But them's the breaks. The next milestone round these parts, if I can get off my butt and post more than once a week, should be my 1000th entry. It's a ways off yet, but I daresay you'll know it when it happens.

That's all. Have a lovely weekend.

In an episode that demonstrates where my media preferences and habits lie, I caught a post of Kathleen's today a couple of hours in advance of the digested email list to which she refers.

Anyhow, in this conversation, a senior scholar raises the question of whether or not students should be blogging about people who may one day be their colleagues. In short, this scholar has a Google alert set to inform him of mentions of his name, and he wonders about the ethics of allowing students to post their initial forays into his work publicly ("While I am happy that folks are reading my stuff, I am aghast that their entries are on the web for all to read.").

It's an interesting question. Like Kathleen, I don't think it's "unethical" per se, as long as it's made quite clear to the students what the potential drawbacks are should they choose to make themselves identifiable.

But I do think it's a question of ethics in the sense of ethos, which is what I take Kathleen to be talking about. It's important (for different reasons at different points along the academic spectrum) to understand the ethical consequences of blogging, the ways that it may help to construct an identity that potential employers and colleagues may one way be able to access. That's one of the lessons that emerged from the whole Tribble flap.

I think another point worth raising is that, soon enough, these same people (in the case of graduate students) will be writing articles that are in the journals for all to read. It's not quite the same thing, true, but there's one thing about the comparison that does work. It's easy in graduate school (and beyond) to imagine that scholarship, particularly in the humanities, is a matter of moving around quotes and citations, almost treating our sources as chess pieces in our various writerly gambits. It's easy to forget that the proper names that appear on our books and in our articles are more than simply functions. They also signify real people, who will react to our work and our citations in various ways. In other words, it's easy to forget that we are often writing about real people with varying levels of investment in the ideas and quotations that we patch together with our own writing.

I'm not always good at it myself, imagining how the people whose work I draw on would themselves respond to my appropriations. But I think that many of us have to undergo the transition where we write dissertations that challenge "the field," only to realize eventually that we ourselves are "the field," that there is no objective field-out-there but instead networks of colleagues, each of whom tries just as hard as we do to get it right, to advance our understanding, to contribute to knowledge.

Transforming one's self from a student to a scholar is in part a matter of coming to terms with the fact that your audience as a scholar is in fact real, addressed rather than invoked. And I don't mean to make it sound as though my transformation is complete--I think it takes a long time to shake the temptation to treat the field as a reified, monolithic whole in need of correction, revision, or enlightenment. I struggle with this myself.

But one of the things that blogging can do, particularly if one does it in the context of a community of scholars, is to make that transition easier. I'll be spending time with a lot of other bloggers in New York next week, some whom I've known (and I know) pre-blog, but many of whom became "real" to me first through this space. And in a lot of ways, that community has become the audience that I write to, even when I'm not writing in this space.

Not everyone who keeps a class blog is going to have the same experience as I have, certainly, but the potential rewards are substantial, I think, if they develop some sense of the ethos they must develop and the audience they may one day address under more formal circumstances.

That's all.

I thought I might mention three items of marginal interest, all of which have to do with the number 1000:

First, I think I'm going to perform a drastic redesign on the ol' site, but I will roll it out to coincide with my 1000th entry. That entry is a ways off yet, seeing as that I'm only floating somewhere around 900. But if timed right, I can waste some time in the late summer bedazzling the joint.

Second, I've finally crested the four-digit mark over at Library Thing. I've been taking it more seriously lately, and making slow, steady progress. I put in a little extra push today to put me over the 1000-mark.

Third, and most importantly to you, you might recall that, with my 1000th comment, I ran a little contest for the person who left my 1000th comment. The prize was an item off the winner's Amazon Wishlist, paid for by me (Jeff won a copy of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You, if I recall.). Well, I'm getting perilously close to 2000 comments, so I figured that it was time to break out the contest again.

This time, though, I should note that I'm somewhere in between 1900 and 2000, so flooding my post with one-line "Did I win?" comments will not really work--my spam filters will most likely catch you, and if it doesn't, I will. But it's more than a few away from 2000, so I expect the winner to come sometime soon, but it's hard to say when, so that strategy is not likely to work anyhow.

I will try to post more regularly over the next few days, so you don't have to write the 50th comment about Syracuse's NIT berth, and I will try to keep an eye on the junk filter if you haven't commented here before. And I'll announce the winner once he or she has hit the magic number...

That is all.



  • images
Powered by Movable Type 4.1

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the meta category from March 2007.

meta: February 2007 is the previous archive.

meta: August 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.