In 2006, Dan Cohen, the Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America, made some pointed claims about how it’s about gosh-dang time professors plugged into the blogosphere. While he laments that bloggers shouldn’t fear pressure about what they blog about be still makes it clear that he himself is pressuring his academic peers to get blogging. You can almost imagine him with a cattle prod to get the unmoving, tenured professors typing.
Cohen cites that listing typical criticisms of being a blogger is pointless. In short, blogging is apparently the new normal. Professors can use this new realm of influence to test out their ideas or quickly share notes from the field. If the thought of sending personal opinions into the unending world-wide-web sends shivers down the spine, rest they assured that it is safe for presenting ideas since what you write is automatically copyrighted.
Blog writing does not take a large amount of time. While building up a following takes steady postings at regular intervals the task is more often a pleasure for bloggers. In fact, he states that blogs allow for an output of obsession. Professors can write the high quality prose that they have been trained to use to impress fellow academics. So there is no need to succumb to the use of common slang of young college students.
What is my opinion of his claim? Well consider me a convert.
Just before reading Cohen’s piece I was dreading entering the world of blogging. What would I have to blog on that hasn’t been ranted about before? Yet, apparently there is room for my thoughts so here I come.
Blogs allow for a human perspective on the often lofty ideals of professional academic writing. When academics ask how they can reach out to the new generation they should no longer be surprised that connecting through social media is the resounding answer.
After all, a blog is a platform for sharing values, core messages and unique perspectives. It can be a narrative that starts chain reactions, where free ideas flow. Is anyone else is envisioning a Woodstock of academics hugging over music and book reviews?
In my blog I am the expert of my declared field of interest (is that the hint of narcissism that Cohen warned against?).
In all seriousness, with my blog I can eloquently share the history of Connecticut Shade Tobacco to my heart’s content and people can choose to read my thoughts or simply scroll past with disinterest. Each new post will build my credibility as an expert in public history and hopefully, Connecticut’s tobacco history. It may also be a sort of journal about the process of the CT StEPS program. The jury is still out on that one though.
To read the original piece that I am referring to: