Leonard Cassuto said in the Guardian: ‘If a graduate student asks me, “Should I blog?” my answer, at least right now, would still be, “Probably not “’. Just weeks ago I gave a talk at the British Library saying very much the opposite. Cassuto is a more established academic than myself, but I still think I have a point – and so did the people who invited me to give that opinion.
To discuss the fact that I came across Cassuto’s article and talked about it on Twitter would be to open another – if related – can of worms. Suffice to say that engaging with twitter for this type of academic commentary is the way I work. I’ve said time and again that Twitter and blogging allow me to usefully interact with so many academics – and non academics I hasten to add – whose opinions I value. I stand by this method of working as it helps me find great new people and ideas on a daily basis and this regularly directly informs my work.
I do recognize that my subject area lends itself particularly well to this type of information exchange. I’m currently writing a book on art mailing list culture and social media and my area of expertise is in art forms that thrive in these networks of sharing. I have had many people point out to me that they themselves aren’t working in a field where social media is considered appropriate and/or they are handling sensitive data that can’t be shared. However, I still take issue with much of what Cassuto says and I still think online discussion platforms have their place in academia.
Like Cassuto, I will divide my response into two sections. The first deals with form because I would argue that he doesn’t credit blogging or any other type of online communication with being anything other than ‘unpublished’, ‘unedited’, ‘unofficial’ writing. There is much about his tone that indicates he sees it as a lesser form of writing and I take issue with that. Read more