Why blog – part two

This is the second in a series of blog posts this week taking a closer look at blogging, asking why you may want to blog, picking out some of what is happening in the UK blogosphere and looking at how blogging can interact with other arenas, such as the academic publishing process, institutions and the mainstream media.

Yesterday, I started on the topic of why you may want to blog and said that I’d outline a few more reasons why you may want to blog today.

Teaching and learning – blogs can be used to support courses, in a way that is easier to use and more accessible than your institutional VLE – some academics have written up their experiences of doing just that, while others are just getting on and using them – supplementing blogging with online polls assessing lectures, podcasts, Twitter updates and links to related resources.

Main Stream Media (MSM) – sadly, I have met too many academics who are great at what they do, but refuse point-blank to get involved with newspapers, TV or radio as they fear or have experience of their work being distorted or mis-represented. Blogs can enable you to represent your work as you would wish and give you the opportunity to sidestep the MSM by expressing yourself in your own words.

Telling a story – most academic work has an interesting story behind it – a process story about the ins-and-outs of research life or the human consequences of what has been found out or how it can effect everyday life – to take some examples from my own University. If we want a better informed citizenry, then perhaps we should engage with them more, as after all we are spending “their” money most of the time – why wait until the research is over and summed up in press release, tell the story as it unfolds, via a blog.

Helping evolve ideas – a key part of interacting in the blogosphere are the comments that you get from readers – some blogs attract comments that are as good as the blog posts! Call it the wisdom of crowds, crowdsourcing or just recognising that there are plenty of smart people out there you’ve never met, blogging is a great way to learn from your readers by asking questions and trying out your ideas in public.

Build a reputation – the rise of blogging has produced a shift towards a world where commentary is content, to the point where particular blogs may become required reading for those wishing to keep up-to-date in certain subjects. For academics this means that you can build a brand and use it to market your latest book.

So that’s a few ideas as to why you may want to blog and I’m sure that you will have more suggestions on why blogging may be of interest to you – if you are particularly keen to find out more, try the Guide to Using Blogs in Economics which may have some tips that are also applicable to your subject.

Tomorrow, a few thoughts on the State of the UK Academic Blogosphere.

Intute: Social Sciences features more blogs of interest to the academic community and more on blogging.