Academics’ blogs

Posted on | July 17, 2006 | 29 Comments

For the upcoming AoIR conference, I’m expanding the project I began in ‘Feeling Ordinary: Blogging as Conversational Scholarship’ to look at blogs that talk explicitly about academic life – the day to day banalities of teaching, doing research, getting ahead and getting along with colleagues. You can read the abstract for the paper here.

Some of the blogs I want to talk about include ones like Laura’s – particularly this post – for the way that it may change perceptions about an implicit urban millieux for academic practice. I also want to talk about the recurring affects of PhD students’ blogs, including the anxieties that are often expressed in the lead-up to completion (Anne’s splintering online identities seem to be a case in point here). Finally, I’m interested in the career concerns talked about in the blogs of junior staff, especially those that are women: Bitch PhD has a great list of these on her site.

To flesh out the discussion, I want to get a wider sample of blogs so that I can make some comparisons across disciplines and across national contexts. In terms of the latter, I think it’s probably fair to say that the proliferating number of young academic bloggers in the US context has some kind of relationship to the unique pressure of the academic system in that country. Because Australia’s system is quite different – and because I suspect AoIR has, like many other associations, some degree of US-centrism – I think it’s important in this paper to make some specific, situated observations.

So can any of you offer some advice on where I might find some more blogs that deal with these kinds of issues? What are some of your favourite academics’ blogs? But when I say ‘academics’ blogs’, it should be clear that for this paper I’m not referring to group blogs such as Crooked Timber, or The Valve, or even LP. These ‘academic blogs’ are more about gaining better insight from pooling the resources of a range of disciplines and perspectives, and involve very different performative dynamics.


29 Responses to “Academics’ blogs”

  1. Nick Caldwell
    July 17th, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

    Hmm.. the now-defunct Invisible Adjunct was a favourite, and sadly missed. It’s probably on Bitch PhD’s list already, though. URL, anyway:

  2. melgregg
    July 17th, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

    Even the names are enough to write a paper about! Thanks Nick.

  3. Axel Bruns
    July 17th, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

    For what it’s worth (and while it’s not addressing the overemphasis on U.S.-based blogging), Alex Halavais has had a lot of interesting things to say about academic life over there – in particular during his job search and move to New York City last year…

  4. jean
    July 17th, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

    Oh, I loved insible adjunct – but bitch phd is good too.

  5. jean
    July 17th, 2006 @ 8:55 pm

    insible, indeed.

  6. kate
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

    Mel Campbell’s ‘academic without the academy’ writing is also interesting – though perhaps outside what you want to look at this time.

  7. Shannon
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

    Where’s your blog, Kate? 🙂

  8. melgregg
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

    Yes! Mel’s blog for sure. Heh. Get ready for some grovelling people as I ask for permissions to quote!!

    But surely there are more than these two or three? Am I really on to something that there aren’t many that are interesting and/or entertaining???

    I have sent an email to fibreculture to get more responses from people but seem to be caught in moderation. Not sure what’s going on there.

  9. Shiralee
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:03 pm

    Christy Dena is a phd student based in Sydney doing her research into cross-media narratives — her blog is a very interesting and intelligent use of the medium to reinforce her academic and professional position.

    personally, my blog-thing is what I do instead of having an academic career…

  10. Jim Barrett
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:09 pm

    I write for a collaborative blog for the lab I work in:

  11. Jill Walker
    July 19th, 2006 @ 12:46 am

    I’m an Australian living in Norway, and have been blogging academically since 2000. Less and less personally as time goes by, though… And less connectedly with Australian academia in the last years, unfortunately.

    Good luck with the paper, it’s a very interesting topic. I can’t be at AoIR, so I really hope you put this online in some form!

  12. Christy Dena
    July 19th, 2006 @ 9:12 am

    Hello Melissa! I’ll be at AOIR too. Thanks Shiralee for popping my blog in. I just wanted to add that what people DON’T put in their blogs is also important. I’ve been changing what I put in my blog according to forces in both industry and academia. I have consciously increased and changed the content at times and then extensively reduced it at others. I’ve changed from having links to everything on my blog, to distributing throughout all my websites, to taking them off again. And now, for reasons I can ramble on about, I’m now changing to my blog being an announcement channel and my upcoming podcast to being my main content channel. Anyway, thought I’d add those thoughts. All the best with the paper. Gotta get back to writing! I look forward to hearing it at AOIR.

  13. lucas
    July 19th, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

    hi mel!
    wish i knew about this conference in time to present there! i’m doing a phd in “practice led research” in art, and the blog is one of the art practices i use.
    so it’s a bit upside down, in terms of your formulation… rather than using the blog to muse on the processes of the phd, it IS the phd…
    (of course, i then have to write an accompanying straight paper too…)
    the blogs in question:
    and the old trusty (but more “trad”)

  14. Laura
    July 19th, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

    Dear Mel, I am of course highly flattered that you think any of my blog posts are worth discussing in a research setting. Go ahead and quote whatever you want to, it’s all public anyway.

    I have been experimenting a bit lately with embedding more or less professional subject matter inside posts ostensibly about domestic or personal stuff. I haven’t yet cracked quite the equilibrium I am looking for but it’s fun to try.

    I know of and read a small number of Australian blogs by people who are on the peripheries of academia. Some of the ones I really like might not look like academic blogs at all because the overt reference to academia isn’t huge. But if you have your antennae tuned correctly it’s all there – the job instability, weird work environments and so forth.

    You already know about Galaxy — there is also Dogpossum down here in Melbourne — I am very fond too of Lorraine Crescent, also in Melbs.

    I second what Christy said about omissions being just as important as inclusions. That post of mine you linked to actually says “look, no students in these pictures.” I also left out anything that could be construed as whiney or cranky, for obvious reasons, heh.

  15. lucas
    July 19th, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

    oh, and there’s the (still germinal) “open source art school” – but this exists deliberately “outside” of the university:

  16. melgregg
    July 20th, 2006 @ 7:46 am

    Thanks so much people! How nice to have some new voices on the blog. Looking forward to catching up with all of you online or in Brisbane!

    And Laura, the way you describe ’embedding more or less professional subject matter inside posts ostensibly about domestic or personal stuff’. This is precisely the rationale for ‘Home Cooked Theory’, right down to the title – to critique the original and ongoing distinction between these things. Private/public. Personal/political. Trivial/professional (and we all know which side women fall on). Fittingly, given she is mentioned here as another one of people’s favourite bloggers, one of the few people that has ever ever seen the value in this approach is the wonderful Mel.

    My chapter in the forthcoming Uses of Blogs book describes this stuff in more detail, so I’m keen to see what you think!

    And Jill – I am already a fan! I’ll be in touch given that your own chapter in the blog book will be such an important precedent for this paper.

  17. kate
    July 21st, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

    Shannon, I’m a poorlycontrolled blogger. Although I haven’t actually written anything much for ages. We’re not an academic blog, although we are academically inclined. We’re a mix of geeky, techie, architects, art historians and an optometrist.

    At the moment we’re talking about architects names that work as dogs names. Which is probably my signal to get back to reading articles, and making notes for my last chapter.

  18. anne
    July 27th, 2006 @ 2:42 am

    aack! i’d never considered that my identity was splintering – now i have something else to be anxious about 😉

    but seriously, i’d love to hear more about these “recurring affects” …

    since i can’t make aoir i hope you’ll share some of your thoughts here too 🙂


  19. Craig Bellamy
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

    I wonder if at AOIR can we break the great Australian nexus between middle-brow American consumer driven technology and high-brow Western European theory. This isn’t reseach; it’s something else.

    It sort of shits me being a Mexican with a mobile. The Americans are laughing at us (all the way to the bank).

  20. glen
    August 2nd, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    steve shaviro’s blog is one of my favourites as he has a consistent high quality of writing (that is normally related somehow to my work). shaviro’s blog is interesting in the context of his previous online work, which may interest you for your research.

    Jodi Dean also writes high quality blog posts, but her blog also probably has more of the ratio of impersonal scholarly writing, versus political, versus personal writing that I think makes blogs engaging.

  21. Danny
    August 4th, 2006 @ 4:22 am

    Hi Mel

    Slaves of Academe will be right up your alley, one of my absolute favourite bloggers, and the best writing about the experience of the academy that I have read. He was burning it up during May, a good place to start.

  22. melgregg
    August 5th, 2006 @ 10:35 am

    Thanks Danny – you’re right (and I love having an alley!)

  23. M-H
    August 23rd, 2006 @ 8:10 am

    I’m a PhD student at Sydney, using blogging to investigate the process of doing/becoming/getting a PhD with a group of candidates. The blogs aren’t open at the moment, but I’m of course interested in all academic uses of blogging. My partner uses them to keep academic and clinical researchers in touch with each other in her discipline. Can’t make AOIR, sadly. My own blogs are at and

  24. melgregg
    August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:24 am

    Sounds great, M-H! Keep in touch!

  25. home cooked theory » Blog Archive » Extreme conference week
    September 29th, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

    […] The Uses of Blogs launch happened this afternoon, followed by our panel which was packed, somewhat dauntingly. Thanks to Jean for getting us motivated. If you’ve come here for the first time to read more of the blogs I mentioned, check the blogroll and those on the blogs mentioned in this post where I began thinking about the paper. […]

  26. JanSchmidt
    October 3rd, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

    I just stumbled on this post through the AOIR-L Mailing-List.
    You mention ‘national context’, and I agree that this surely influences the way academic blogging emerges. You might want to check out the “Hard blogging scientists” (, a loose network of academic bloggers (mostly) from Germany; the manifesto is in english. I’m doing research on Social Software and occasionally blog in english (; another example would be Tina Guenther’s Sozlog (; Tina is a sociologist with a focus on markets and organization.

  27. David Brake
    October 3rd, 2006 @ 7:59 pm

    I started with a single blog ( about everything but not containing much that was really personal – mostly links to useful stuff I came across. Then I thought I would try to make a groupblog with my fellow LSE students but it seems to have turned into mainly a blog by me about the academic side of my brain. And then I became a father and started my first really personal blog (but this one is a friends-only LJ I have done what I can to keep under wraps). But since I am writing my thesis about personal webloggers and currently examining their relations with their readers it should come as no surprise I think carefully about communicative contexts!

  28. David Brake
    October 3rd, 2006 @ 8:02 pm

    Oops – forgot to mention that the unofficial [email protected] Groupblog is at No juicy gossip there but some tips, the occaisional news item and various queries from time to time. And who knows – maybe even some posts from other LSE PhD students!

    Wish I could have been in Oz but Must Upgrade my Thesis Before Xmas!

  29. melgregg
    October 4th, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

    Great, thanks to you both. This is getting really interesting – and glad the national context angle is getting broadened here.

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