The State of the UK Academic Blogosphere

This is the third in a series of blog posts this week taking a closer look at blogging, asking why you may want to blog (part one and part two), 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.

A couple of weeks ago I took a brief look at the State of the Blogosphere in light of the recent report from Technorati – while it appears that the blogging is in good health overall, can the same be said of academic blogging especially in the UK as opposed to the US?

It’s safe to say that there are fewer blogging UK academics than US academics – after all there are 300 million people in the US and only about 60 million here in the UK. But in the past when I have asked Where are the UK academic bloggers – people have always asked for good examples of current practise, so I thought I should try to track some down.

An undoubted favourite here at Intute: Social Sciences is the Crooked Timber blog, which is an international collaboration which covers a range of Social Science subjects, inclduing contributions from Chris Bertram, a Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Bristol.

This team approach is a good way of sharing the burden of blogging, as unless you build blogging into your normal workflow it can become an extra thing to do. This is perhaps best exemplified by Vox a policy portal set up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research which may not look like a traditional blog, seems to feature pretty highly in all the rankings of economics blogs.

On an institutional level there are innovative communities growing around specific universities, for example the Warwick Blogs service or across the sector as a whole with the JISC Involve service. Indeed a current consultation exercise on The Future of Higher Education by the DIUS is being carried out using a blog.

But looking at the various blogs that have been added to Intute: Social Sciences, of the 500 or so blogs we feature, only about 150 are from the UK and the vast majority of these are from sources that may be of interest to the academic community rather than from the academic community themselves.

And perhaps that is something we should just accept as Kirby and Cameron put it, when talking about the Canadian academic blogosphere:

The academic blogosphere is far from uniform, and not necessarily directed toward academic audiences.

… but that may be something that could change in the future, although Web 2.0 and blog evangelists should take note that currently most workplace Internet use is rudimentary and there is a danger that people who like technology, will just carry on talking to other people who like technology, about how great technology is – the blogosphere needs to be more than just an echo chamber.

On Friday more on how blogging can interact with other arenas, such as the academic publishing process, institutions and the mainstream media.

Intute: Social Sciences features more UK based blogs and our editors reviewed Our Favourite Social Science Blogs earlier this year, including our pick of the leading economics blogs, plus there are more blogs featured elsewhere on Intute.