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The rewards of research blogging

June 6, 2010

An old friend has kindly chided me via email over my recent blog post, entitled New media and social change, for not defining the key concepts I’m using in my ‘article’ – and generally for making a hash of what could have been an interesting text.

I’ve kept meaning to reflect on my blogging practice for ages, but the very same severe constraint that shapes this practice has got in the way time and again – namely a lack of time. This would seem, therefore, like a good opportunity to say one or two quick things about my blogging.

1. As regular readers will have noticed, I don’t do a lot of proper blogging, I just put things on the blog. Every now and again,  I post materials I have to hand in a rather haphazard manner. These are generally, but not always, related to the broad theme of media anthropology and can range from nearly-finished products to raw thoughts on a new (to me) topic.

2. The hope is that some of these materials will be of use to me and others at a later stage, e.g. in the form of bibliographic references, half-baked ideas, links to other sites, teaching notes, etc. I’m already finding that either via google or through the blog’s own search engine, I can often dig up these materials more effectively than if I had kept them in my hard drive or external devices.

3. In recent months I’ve begun to use amplify, delicious, facebook and twitter more frequently for work-related matters, and this new activity has had an impact on my blogging because it takes time and resources away from blogging. On the other hand, it also brings (some) traffic to this site. (Amplify is great, by the way – you can quickly highlight a bit of text from a webpage that you want to keep, and even more quickly share it with others via delicious, twitter, etc.).

4. In addition to the archival benefits of this kind of blogging, I’m also finding an added reward: it provides me with a happy medium between the sloppiness and rawness of private notes on a research question and the more careful but time-consuming writing that tends to happen in the final drafts of a piece heading for publication. If you thought my post on new media and social change was sloppy, you should see the handwritten notes that preceded it!

5. There are extrinsic rewards to be derived from research blogging as well. For example, early incarnations of passages or sections in my forthcoming monograph Localizing the Internet that anonymous reviewers commended  first appeared on this blog, e.g. Subang Jaya’s field of residential affairs.

I’ve got to go now (time waits for no blogger) but more on this to come…

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