Blogging and Tenure

One of the things that has come up in a few offline conversations I’ve had lately has been about the value of blogging in a tenure environment. The obvious answer: it doesn’t count. But there is an emerging question: what is the role of altmetrics in tenure?

Having worked at two institutions that granted librarians faculty status: officially named “librarian faculty” with contracts of increasing length at one and “continued appointment faculty” with similar contracts at another, it comes up. Again and again.

It comes up because if you have publishing requirements, you have to put time into that process. Blogging takes time. If you have a limited pool of writing time, and blogging is occupying a lot of the space, when will you get that scholarly research done? (I know I haven’t done any of the formal writing I had planned to do this month.)

Yet, blogging can influence the field in some pretty significant ways. I’d guess that this blog has had more of an impact than the one true peer reviewed article that I’ve published has.  Even though that article is referenced in a fairly influential work of its own.

So is it influence that matters? Peer review? Entirely original ideas? Something else? And who is to say that peer review doesn’t happen every time someone comments on any work, blogging included?

All that being said, in these recent conversations we keep coming to a place where the blog has value unto itself, and is a good thing to do if you have things to say. However, it seems the safest lens to use, and that the most people seem to use, for the faculty review process is that the blog is better as a platform to build a professional reputation that opens the door to other scholarly activities.

And I’ve certainly seen that in my own blogging. This space has opened doors to partnerships and collaboration, opportunities to contribute writing, and invitations to speak to different groups. The work I’ve done in those spheres has often been more rigorous and in many cases had a more formal tone, but it was only an option because of the writing that took place here.

So to blog or not to blog? I’d say there’s still value, even though you’ll occasionally come across posts that indicate Twitter’s the way to go now. The bigger question is what do you have to say (and how will you make time to say it)?

20 Days of Blogging: A Challenge for an Absent Writer

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about blogging lately, for whatever reason. It feels like 2005 again. And, like most people who have been blogging for a while, I’ve been through several periods in which I’ve have to reevaluate or adapt my blogging for whatever reason. Twitter catches on? Stop the two-three sentence posts referencing a single link! Information overload? Post less! Job gets more demanding? Post less! New baby, new town, new job? Post less!

But the thing is that I’ve always found that blogging is a valuable public space to work out ideas and think about things in a way that allows for participation in a larger community. I comment on others’ posts, and people comment on mine. We have a shared, larger conversation. Ideas get better. The day-job work improves. There’s more to write about… It’s a virtuous circle.

Enso Red 11/20
Photo Credit: wadem via Compfight cc

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about quality vs. quantity. When I blog a lot less, I (personally, though I suspect this is not just something that I feel) feel the stakes are higher and the idea has to be better. If I blogged more frequently I wouldn’t be as concerned that every post be a gem, and as a result more posts would be out there, many of which would be good ideas that I would have judged too harshly before.

In this same line I think about 750words (which is a site I use and will enthusiastically recommend to anyone who is mildly interested) and National Novel Writing Month (which I successfully completed back in the pre-child days). Both projects are about just getting the words on the screen. The specifics of what the words are don’t matter so much as just getting in the practice and habit of writing. And I think it’s time I spend some time getting in that habit in the blogging world as well.

So, in the spirit of one of my new colleague’s interest in open scholarship, here’s my open attempt at jump starting a blogging practice again: a month of work-day posts. Some will be like the posts I’ve been doing for the last six months or so, some will be shorter, nuggets of ideas. Some will be about things that are interesting to me that might be interesting to someone out there. But it’s a month of blogging ahead.

Along with this, we’ve kicked off a Bloggers Guild at work this summer, where we’ll be talking about some of the intentions and meta-issues around blogging as well as taking some time every other week or so to sit down together and carve out some time to get started writing. It’s a fun group, and I’m encouraged thinking about a summer of blogging. But for now: I’m just glad to kick off a personal 20 days of blogging challenge.

Post Script: It’s really interesting to go back and look at first posts. My first library blog post described my interest in “ambient findabiltiy” and “education in a non-school setting” which I’d say is still my primary interest, though I’d frame it more as “creating more intuitive systems and teaching people to operate in today’s information environment” and “informal learning.” The more things change, the more things stay the same…

more blogging project(s)

I’m starting up a few blogs at work and thought I’d share the links here in case you’re interested:

  • A blog on educational technology, for librarians (and hopefully faculty) who are interested in how educational technology can be appropriately used to enhance learning in their classes. I started this ages ago, and only made one post, so I’m probably just going to clear it out and start over.
  • A blog on emerging technology, for the WFU community, discussing new and emerging technologies (and some older-but-neglected ones). There will be a corresponding wiki to provide an encyclopedic resource, based on the blog content.
  • A blog for a class on teaching-that I’m working on with a colleague-for library staff. This blog is more like a content management system for the “class” and will serve as an example of how a blog can essentially be an easy-to-edit website.

Before I start marketing these blogs, I need content, so I’m going to start chipping away at that now, starting with new tech. Knowing that not everyone knows about Firefox add-ons, but that there are a lot of interesting things going on there about now, the first post is just to set the stage for posts on that with an introduction. For that, I made this little explanation:

But the real question for the spring semester: will it get so busy that it will be impossible to keep these types of staff development tools going? I’ll keep you posted.