Thursday, October 06, 2005

On Blogging

Phil Harland points to a wonderful blog by Sharon Howard where she writes:

Blogging research lets you develop the very first drafts of ideas. Bits and pieces that don’t yet amount to articles (or even conference papers), but they may well do some day. And something else, sometimes: last year I was having trouble thinking up any new ideas at all, but blogging old ideas, often attached to new sources, meant that I kept writing, if only a few hundred words a week, without having to worry about it being original or impressive. And now, because it’s all archived and easy to find, I can look back over some of that work and see potential themes, little seeds of ideas that are worth working on, start to make them grow. . . Another thing: writing for a slightly different audience than in the usual academic contexts. This is an amazing opportunity to reach out.

I find that doing research and then blogging various ideas and receiving comments is almost as good as a classroom situation. Although there may be extended dialogue in a class room, on the blogs you find more thought out and coherent responses. My field is relatively new in the greater scheme of things, and I am just a student, but with the help of friends and teachers who blog comments, [and their own blogs!] it's like a mini peer-review, at times by people who are well qualified and able to give me advice, support, insight and critique. It allows me to freely explore, but then be kept in check. I remember Tom Wright in a public lecture saying:
The point of scholarship, is by carrying on a debate with no-holds barred, open to all comers in the public scholarly arena, there will be more checks and balances, so that people who say wacky and outrageous things can be called to account by their peers and then should have to modify or correct their hypotheses accordingly.
Blogging allows us to do just that - but without having to suffer the embarrassment of publishing nonsense or wachy and outrageous stuff! Well, that's true for me anyway!
Well, back to the historical maze...

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