A reply to Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Why Not Blog?

Replied to Why Not Blog? by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)

My friend Alan Jacobs, a key inspiration in my return (such as it is, so far) to blogging and RSS and a generally pre-Twitter/Facebook outlook on the scholarly internet, is pondering the relationship between blogging and other forms of academic writing in thinking about his next project. Perhaps needless to say, this is something I’m considering as well, and I’m right there with him in most regards.

But there are a few spots where I’m not, entirely, and I’m not sure whether it’s a different perspective or a different set of experiences, or perhaps the latter having led to the former.

I really like where you’re coming from on so many fronts here (and on your site in general). Thanks for such a great post on a Friday afternoon. A lot of what you’re saying echos the ideas of many old school bloggers who use their blogs as “thought spaces“. They write, take comments, iterate, hone, and eventually come up with stronger thoughts and theses. Because of the place in which they’re writing, the ideas slowly percolate and grow over a continuum of time rather than spring full-formed seemingly from the head of Zeus the way many books would typically appear to the untrained eye. I’ve not quite seen a finely coalesced version of this idea though I’ve seen many dance around it obliquely. The most common name I’ve seen is that of a “thought space” or sometimes the phrase “thinking out loud”, which I notice you’ve done at least once. In some sense, due to its public nature, it seems like an ever-evolving conversation in a public commons. Your broader idea and blogging experience really make a natural progression for using a website to slowly brew a book.

My favorite incarnation of the idea is that blogs or personal websites are a digital and public shared commonplace book. Commonplaces go back to the 15th century and even certainly earlier, but I like to think of websites as very tech-forward versions of the commonplaces kept by our forebears.

I’ve seen a few educators like Aaron Davis and Ian O’Byrne take to the concept of a commonplace, though both have primary websites for writing and broader synthesis and secondary sites for collecting and annotating the web. I tend to aggregate everything (though not always published publicly) on my primary site after having spent some time trying not to inundate email subscribers as you’ve done.

There’s also a growing movement, primarily in higher education, known as A Domain of One’s Own or in shortened versions as either “Domains” or even #DoOO which is a digital take on the Virgina Woolf quote “Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.”

There are a growing number of educators, researchers, and technologists reshaping how the web is used which makes keeping an online commonplace much easier. In particular, we’re all chasing a lot of what you’re after as well:

Part of what I’m after is consolidating my presence online as much as possible, especially onto platforms that I can control.

To me, this sounds like one of the major pillars of the IndieWeb movement which is taking control of the web back from corporate social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et. al. Through odd serendipity, I came across your micro.blog account this morning which led me to your website. A lot of the underpinnings of micro.blog are informed by the IndieWeb movement. In many subtle ways, I might suspect the two had a lot of influence on your particular choice of WordPress theme.

Tonight I’ve also seen your reply to Dan Cohen’s question:

I had previously replied to Dan’s original question, but somehow missed your side thread at the time. I suspect you didn’t see our branch of the conversation either.

Interestingly, your presumption that the replies/notifications stay within their own domains isn’t necessarily fait accompli, at least not any more. There’s a new web specification in the past few years called Webmention that allows notifications and replies to cross website boundaries unlike Twitter @mentions which are permanently stuck within Twitter. Interestingly, because of the way you’ve set up your WordPress website to dovetail with micro.blog you’re almost 90 percent of the way to supporting it easily. If you add and slightly configure the Webmention and Semantic Linkbacks plugins, the asides and other content you’re syndicating into micro.blog will automatically collect the related conversation around them back to your own posts thus allowing you to have a copy of your content on your own website as well as the surrounding conversation, which is no longer as diffuse as you imagined it needed to be. Here’s an example from earlier this evening where I posted to my site and your response (and another) on micro.blog came back to me. (Sadly there’s a Gravatar glitch preventing the avatars from displaying properly, but hopefully I’ll solve that shortly.)

This same sort of thing can be done with Twitter including native threading and @mentions, if done properly, by leveraging the free Brid.gy service to force Twitter to send your site webmentions on your behalf. (Of course this means you might need to syndicate your content to Twitter in a slightly different manner than having micro.blog do on your behalf, but there are multiple ways of doing this.)

I also notice that you’ve taken to posting copies of your tweeted versions at the top of your comments sections. There’s a related IndieWeb plugin called Syndication Links that is made specifically to keep a running list of the places to which you’ve syndicated your content. This plugin may solve a specific need for you in addition to the fact that it dovetails well with Brid.gy to make sure your posts get the appropriate comments back via webmention.

I’m happy to help walk you through setting up some of the additional IndieWeb tech for your WordPress website if you’re interested. I suspect that having the ability to use your website as a true online hub in addition to doing cross website conversations is what you’ve been dreaming about, possibly without knowing it. Pretty soon you’ll be aggregating and owning all of your digital breadcrumbs to compile at a later date into posts and eventually articles, monographs, and books.

Perhaps more importantly, there’s a growing group of us in the education/research fields that are continually experimenting and building new functionalities for online (and specifically academic) communication. I and a plethora of others would welcome you to join us on the wiki, in chat, or even at upcoming online or in-person events.

In any case, thanks for sharing your work and your thoughts with the world. I wish more academics were doing what you are doing online–we’d all be so much richer for it. I know this has been long and is a potential rabbithole you may disappear into, so thank you for the generosity of your attention.

Syndicated copies to:

👓 I relished Om Malik’s post “Blogs are thought spaces” | Colin Walker

Read a post by Colin WalkerColin Walker (colinwalker.blog)
I relished Om Malik's post "Blogs are thought spaces" in which he said that he started blogging for two reasons: to share what he had learnt as a reporter, and to have a place to think out loud. This reminded me of something I wrote in 2014 where, I too, said I like to think out loud. Blogging has a...
Syndicated copies to:

👓 Blogs as Thinking Spaces | Read Write Collect

Read Blogs as Thinking Spaces by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (collect.readwriterespond.com)
Nice reflection Colin. I find it interesting the way that focuses and intents associated with blogging develop and evolve over time. Although I do sometimes go back to my Twitter feed to find past conversations, I agree with you that it is a bit of dumping spot. For a long time my habit has been to ...
Syndicated copies to:

👓 Blogging in 2017 | Colin Walker

Read Blogging in 2017 by Colin WalkerColin Walker (colinwalker.blog)
Having read a number of posts recently about people's experiences rediscovering blogging, and others questioning whether blogging was still a valid exercise in 2017, I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine why I do this. My own rediscovery period was last year. I was still writing but not tr...
Syndicated copies to:

👓 What’s New? | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read What’s New? by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
Over the last couple of months, I opened Generous Thinking to a community review process at Humanities Commons. I am thrilled with how the discussion went and am thoroughly enjoying the process of revision started.
Doing that work has had me reflecting a fair bit of late on my working processes, how they’ve changed over the last several years, and how I might want to transform them yet again. And one bit of that potential transformation is leading me, with Dan Cohen, back to blogging, and, with Alan Jacobs, to ponder returning to some related technologies as well.
Syndicated copies to:

👓 Why Not Blog? | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read Why Not Blog? by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
My friend Alan Jacobs, a key inspiration in my return (such as it is, so far) to blogging and RSS and a generally pre-Twitter/Facebook outlook on the scholarly internet, is pondering the relationship between blogging and other forms of academic writing in thinking about his next project. Perhaps needless to say, this is something I’m considering as well, and I’m right there with him in most regards.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The blog was not just the venue in which I started putting together the ideas that became my second book, the one that made promotion and various subsequent jobs possible, but it was also the way that I was able to demonstrate that there might be a readership for that second book, without which it’s much less likely that a press would have been interested.  

This sounds like she’s used her blog as both a commonplace book as well as an author platform.

In fact blog posts are not the kind of thing one can detail on one’s annual review form, and even a blog in the aggregate doesn’t have a place in which it’s easy to be claimed as a site of ongoing scholarly productivity.  

Mine have gone more like (1) having some vague annoying idea with a small i; (b) writing multiple blog posts thinking about things related to that idea; (iii) giving a talk somewhere fulminating about some other thing entirely; (4) wondering if maybe there are connections among those things; (e) holy carp, if I lay the things I’ve been noodling about over the last year and a half out in this fashion, it could be argued that I am in the middle of writing a book!  

Here’s another person talking about blogs as “thought spaces” the same way that old school bloggers like Dave Winer and Om Malik amongst many others have in the past. While I’m thinking about it I believe that Colin Walker and Colin Devroe have used this sort of idea as well.

Syndicated copies to:

I was doing some reading and thinking about how one might translate the idea of blogging into Latin. I tried entering “I am blogging.” into Google translate just to see what would come out. Perhaps it’s just a glitch in their translation algorithm, but the response felt apropos to me.

A screen capture of Google Translate's attempt to translate "I am blogging." into Latin. It outputs "Ego nullam dolore."

“Ego nullam dolore.” translated back into English is “I have no pain.”

Syndicated copies to:

👓 Interviewing my digital domains | W. Ian O’Byrne

Read Interviewing my digital domains by W. Ian O'ByrneW. Ian O'Byrne (W. Ian O'Bryne)

Alan Levine recently posted a series of questions to help others think through some of thoughts and motivations as we develop and maintain a domain of our own.

I’ve written a lot about this in the past, and I’ll try to include some links to content/posts as I respond to the prompts. This is a bit long as I get into the weeds, so consider yourself warned.

And now…let’s get to it…

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Having a domain is important to me as I research, develop, and teach.

example of a domain as thinking out loud or thought spaces
blogging as thinking


This should be a space where you can create the identity that you want to have. You can write yourself into existence.

I like this sentiment. Had René Descartes been born a bit later might he have said “Blogeō, ergo sum”?


Most of this work is focused on collaboration, transparency, and working/thinking in the open.


The plan is to use the site to share surveys, interviews, and researcher notes.

Note to self: I need to keep documenting examples of these open labs, open notebooks, etc. in the open science area.


teachers hid their Facebook accounts for fear of being fired.

The sound of this to me know reminds me of the type of suppression of thought that might have occurred in the middle ages. Of course open thought and discussion is important for teachers the same way it is for every other person. However there are a few potential counterexamples where open discussion of truly abhorrent ideas can run afoul of community mores. Case in point:


PLN

personal learning network perhaps marking it up with <abbr> tags would be useful here?


luck

lucky


.A

space


I feel like this culture in academia may be changing.


academia is built on the premise (IMHO) of getting a good idea, parlaying that into a job and tenure, and waiting for death. I’ve had a lot of colleagues and acquaintances ask why I would bother blogging. Ask why I share all of this content online. Ask why I’m not afraid that someone is going to steal my ideas.

Though all too true, this is just a painful statement for me. The entirety of our modern world is contingent upon the creation of ideas, their improvement and evolution, and their spreading. In an academic world where attribution of ideas is paramount, why wouldn’t one publish quickly and immediately on one’s own site (or anywhere else they might for that matter keeping in mind that it’s almost trivially easy to self-publish it on one’s own website nearly instantaneously)?
Early areas of science were held back by the need to communicate by handwriting letters as the primary means of communication. Books eventually came, but the research involved and even the printing process could take decades. Now the primary means of science communication is via large (often corporate owned) journals, but even this process may take a year or more of research and then a year or more to publish and get the idea out. Why not write the ideas up and put them out on your own website and collect more immediate collaborators? Funding is already in such a sorry state that generally, even an idea alone, will not get the ball rolling.
I’m reminded of the gospel song “This little light of mine” whose popular lyrics include:
“Hide it under a bushel? No! / I’m gonna let it shine” and
“Don’t let Satan blow it out, / I’m gonna let it shine”
I’m starting to worry that academia in conjunction with large corporate publishing interests are acting the role of Satan in the song which could easily be applied to ideas as well as to my little light.


Senior colleagues indicate that I should not have to balance out publishing in “traditional, peer-reviewed publications” as well as open, online spaces.

Do your colleagues who read your work, annotate it, and comment on it not count as peer-review? Am I wasting my time by annotating all of this? 🙂 (I don’t think so…)


or at least they pretend

I don’t think we’re pretending. I know I’m not!


PDF form

Let me know when you’re done and we’ll see about helping you distribute it in .epub and .mobi formats as e-books as well.


This is due to a natural human reaction to “Google” someone before we meet them for the first time. Before we show up to teach a class, take a class, interview for a job, go on a date…we’ve been reviewed online. Other people use the trail of breadcrumbs that we’ve left behind to make judgements about us. The question/challenge is that this trail of breadcrumbs is usually incomplete, and locked up in various silos. You may have bits of your identity in Facebook or Twitter, while you have other parts locked up in Instagram, Snapchat, or LinkedIn. What do these incomplete pieces say about you? Furthermore, are they getting the entire picture of you when they uncover certain details? Can they look back to see what else you’re interested in? Can they see how you think all of these interests fit together…or they seeing the tail end of a feverish bout of sharing cat pics?

I can’t help but think that doing this is a form of cultural anthropology being practiced contemporaneously. Which is more likely: someone a 100 years from now delving into my life via my personal website that aggregated everything or scholars attempting to piece it all back together from hundreds of other sites? Even with advanced AI techniques, I think the former is far more likely.
Of course I also think about what @Undine is posting about cats on Twitter or perhaps following #marginaliamonday and cats, and they’re at least taking things to a whole new level of scholarship.


Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

👓 Hello Goodbye | Casting Out Nines | The Chronicle of Higher Education

Read Hello Goodbye by Robert Talbert (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Today I want to officially announce the end of one era at this blog and the beginning of a new one. Beginning Fall 2015 (I don’t know the exact date), the Chronicle of Higher Education will no longer be hosting Casting Out Nines. The article you are reading now is the last one I will be posting at...

Ran across this as I was updating my following list. I suspect after having done this for several years he wishes he had maintained his own blog and syndicated out to the Chronicle. He’s also got some interesting thoughts on the community he encountered in this new space that he didn’t/couldn’t control himself.

Syndicated copies to:

👓 a note by Brett Simmons

Read a post by Brett Simmons (inessential.com)
Here’s a provisional thought (all thoughts on a blog are provisional) — to read a good blog is to watch a writer get a little bit better, day after day, at writing the truth.
Syndicated copies to:

👓 Writing | archivingephemerality.com

Read Writing by jn (archivingephemerality.com)
A wonderful mentor recently advised me to write for the job that I wanted. I liked this advice a bit more than the classic “dress for the position you want”, but wasn’t quite sure where to start. Writing anything began to feel like an intense endeavor that would map out the path my life would follow singularly, no wandering adventures. A tad dramatic, right? My previous writing had touched on a number of things: graffiti and street art, women’s history, 3D modeling, and workshops. But lately I have felt stuck and I have made all of the excuses: I’m too busy. There’s other tasks that need to be completed first. I’m tired of staring at a computer screen. I’m not a very good writer. When I finally logged into my blog, I found a hacked mess. Another excuse not to write as I focused on rebuilding.

I too spend an inordinate amount of time monkeying around with my website/writing platform, but I also find that by using it as a regular commonplace book, I’m rarely at a loss for something to write about…

Syndicated copies to:

👓 Blogging, small-b, Big B | W. Ian O’Byrne

Read Blogging, small-b, Big B by W. Ian O'Byrne (W. Ian O'Byrne)
I’ve written quite a bit about blogging, and my creation of open education resources over the past on this website. A lot has changed in my blogging habits, and general digital identity construction since those posts. Most of the response that I get from colleagues, students, and tenure committees is “why in the world would you share that stuff openly online?” As such, I’ve been meaning to write up a post documenting my thinking about why I do…what I do.

One of these days I’ll get around to writing up my larger thesis about using a personal website for an all-in academic samizdat experience to rid academia of the siloed mindset its been stuck in for ages… This post comes relatively close to laying the underlying groundwork for some motivation.

As an academic, I need to regularly have empirical research publications in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. Nothing else matters. Many senior colleagues bemoan the fact that I need to play double duty…yet the system still exists.

And why can’t your own blog count as a top-tier, peer-reviewed journal?

and serve as pre-prints to work that may live later on, or always exist in their current format

Thinking of a personal site as a pre-print server is an interesting concept and somewhat similar to the idea of a commonplace book.

Syndicated copies to:

🎧 The IndieWeb – Martijn | jeena.net

Listened to The IndieWeb - Martijn by Jeena ParadiesJeena Paradies from jeena.net
We're two senior IndieWeb participants talking about owning your own content.

I can see why several folks in the IndieWeb community love this discussion. Jeena and Marjtin have a wide-ranging conversation that hits almost all of the high points and most of the discussion is very accessible. There are some places in the second half of the episode where those who aren’t developers may feel like they’re in some higher weeds particularly with some jargon, but much of it is well defined and discussed. In solid journalistic fashion, they start from the most basic (with lots of attention to definitions and detail) and ramp up to the more advanced and detailed. If you’re a blogger, journalist, librarian, educator, other who is relatively web savvy and wants to supplement your knowledge of what is going on in this area, this is a great place to help fill in some gaps before delving into additional help and documentation.

In particular, I love that they do an excellent job of helping to communicate the intentional work, craft, morality, ethics, and love which most of the community approaches the topic.

As I suspect that Jeena doesn’t receive many “listen” posts, I’ll webmention his post here with an experimental microformat class like-of. Perhaps he’ll join some of the podcasting community who supports this and make it a stronger standard.

Syndicated copies to:

Reply to iamjeffperry tweet about community infrastructure

Replied to a Twitter thread by Jeff PerryJeff Perry (Twitter)

Perhaps in the vein of what you might be looking for, I’ve got a multi-user site built on WithKnown. It functions much like a stand-alone-Facebook-like service where users have their own accounts and can interact with each other on the service. It also has an OAuth server which allows users to use their own websites to log in and be able to post or syndicate content from their own websites into it, that way they have a choice of owning all of the content they post to it or not.

Note: this particular test site is meant more for folks to do quick test drives of the Known platform rather than serving as a platform in the way you’re describing. As an example of what you may be looking for though, here’s an original post on my own website (note the “also on” link at the bottom) and here’s the copy that was syndicated into the separate “community service” on an entirely different domain.

I suspect you could use other sites/services like WordPress to do something like this as well.

Alternately, you could have folks post on their own site and aggregate things in a “planet-like” fashion via RSS (by keyword perhaps) or other means on a central hub as suggested by Aaron Parecki.

Syndicated copies to: