Posted on | March 21, 2012 | 5 Comments
At the risk of aggravating my loyal spambots still further, I wanted to share the great news that my colleague Kane Race has started a blog, homotectonic. It’s partly to document work that’s emerging from his new ARC Discovery project, ‘Changing Spaces of HIV Prevention: a cultural analysis of transformations in sexual sociability among gay and homosexually active men.’ But it also promises to be a lot of fun.
Those of you who know Kane will already be aware of his local and international influence in the sociology of health. His new work is adopting cultural theory in fascinating ways, moving deftly between popular culture, critical theory, and embodied practice to address pressing issues for gay men. This is a really welcome addition to the list of cultural studies scholars already experimenting with the publics available for their work online. That it accords with the porous, mobile, ambient dimensions of the research object being analysed is terrific too.
This happy development has prompted some thinking on the changing nature of blogging. It comes alongside a fabulous PhD thesis I’ve been reading on feminist bloggers in Australia – which, incidentally, is the first example I’ve seen that’s able to demonstrate the political significance of affect and emotion in feminist blogging communities specifically. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Frances Shaw’s work after the momentous achievement of submission, particularly as a riposte to some of the established modes of representing so-called political blogging in this country!
I’ve also been thinking about the reports for my current ARC Future Fellowship application which, when they mentioned my blog, did so with enthusiasm – recognising that it has served a function for junior scholars over the years. This seems a notable development from the days when young academics were warned not to talk about their blogs in professional settings for fear of the perceptions that might be triggered – of time-wasting, on the one hand; or too much self-promotion, on the other. Oh how we debated these matters! I remember long, anxious discussions of what it all meant for the profession, in places like csaa-forum… though I can’t locate them now. Maybe it was at MACS. The ephemerality of such topical fixations is surely the point.
I wonder, then, whether Mark Zuckerberg is on to something when he says – in the otherwise alarming quote:
Have perceptions towards blogging changed over time to recognise it as a legitimate supplement to traditional academic research and output? Certainly others have been discussing this at length recently. Far from being a threat to scholarly integrity, we may be seeing a new kind of default logic attached to the practice for universities desperate to retain a claim on public attention in the wake of the social web.
I’ve been saying for some time now that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have normalised and democratised blogging’s ‘broadcast impulse’. Today we are in a much better position to assess whether bloggers were always self-promoting careerists or perhaps searching for something else entirely from writing, scholarship and online community.
Regardless of these wider issues, I hope Kane’s blogging experience is as rewarding and sustaining as mine has been. Enjoy!