In the spirit of constructive opinion sharing…

Many have you have probably noticed the quiet on this blog. I’ve been sort of focused on my real job and on my real life, in addition to sitting back and watching the fallout from Scio10’s civility session which has gotten all mixed up in the Nature Network’s self examination of their potential/possible/likely insularity, and the discussion of their 50,000th comment (BTW, Congrats NN!). On civility, I’ve not wanted to get involved in that discussion much- even though I was at the session in question and I have some very definite thoughts about what happened there. Watching the events unfold on the internet has reminded me how much I dislike drama,  how much I love a good meaty discussion with lots of contrasting viewpoints and opinions, and how people who claim to be listening to each other are sometimes unable or unwilling to put personal feelings aside and really be open to and hear the opposing viewpoint. Not to mention that it was a real live demo in civility and incivility.

This morning I noticed that Drugmonkey answered the following challenge revived  by Steffi Suhr at NN (originally posted some time ago by Martin Fenner, also NN). Steffi says this:

This recent kerfuffle (again, if you’ve missed it, good!) has – for me – just reinforced how important it is to allow different styles and accept and tolerate (blog-)cultural differences. So, in the general spirit of kissing and making up, I invite you to join in and answer these slightly different questions1:

I quite agree, and so I’ll answer the questions posed:

* What made you start blogging?
* Is a sense of community an important part of blogging for you, or do you prefer blogging ‘solo’?
* Are there blogs you never look at? If yes, why (be nice and don’t name names)?
* Who are you blogging for/who are you talking to?
* Do you think you may be getting people exposed to some science through your blog who otherwise wouldn’t be?
* Do you think any non-blogger cares about any of the above things?

So, One at a time then.

* What made you start blogging?

I started blogging for several reasons. First, in talking to lots of people in person about academic careers, I realized that there just wasn’t a lot of mentoring going on for how the system works. I found this especially acute for young women interested in academic careers, young women with kids wanting academic careers, young women with kids and academic track spouses considering academic careers. Those that I talked to just hadn’t been taught how the system works to get an academic job, and then the nitty gritty of what comes afterwards. I’m sure that there is a need for mentoring for young men as well (not to leave you all out), it is just that this wasn’t the first set of needs I encountered. Second, immediately after I started my faculty position I had a constant parade of post docs from other labs come to chat with me about how to get an academic job… what steps EXACTLY to take. I decided to write it all down somewhere that those people (and perhaps others) could get to it, mostly so I could stop repeating myself. Third, by virtue of my femaleness, and more accurately my femaleness with two kids and an academic spouse- I was isolated. I’m an outgoing person- so this isolation was uncomfortable. I wanted community, I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one going through the things I was going through. Now I know that I’m not, and I’ve made some amazing lifelong friends in similar situations to mine.

* Is a sense of community an important part of blogging for you, or do you prefer blogging ‘solo’?

Hmm, well I do blog ‘solo’ as it were- as no one else but me writes here (yet). But I don’t want to blog without the conversation and discussion that comes with each post, that sense of community is important to me. The other community that I have found and that is important to me is the community of other bloggers, (about science, about careerism, about grantsmanship etc.) that I have come to know and interact with frequently. We might not always agree, but I know that deep down we are all part of the same enterprise.

* Are there blogs you never look at? If yes, why (be nice and don’t name names)?

Yes. There are blogs that I never look at. Those that I find boring, I never look at. Boring comes in several forms- the post material doesn’t interest me at the moment (that doesn’t mean it is not interesting, it is just personal preference), or the post material feels like the same topic over and over again, or the discussion doesn’t feel inclusive, or the discussion is a bunch of people just agreeing with each other.  Those things turn me off.

* Who are you blogging for/who are you talking to?

I blog because I like to write, so that part is for me. But I also blog so others can see some of my hard fought experiences and my experiences, which- let’s face it- are so much more interesting and instructive than my triumphs, and maybe learn something from them.

* Do you think you may be getting people exposed to some science through your blog who otherwise wouldn’t be?

I’ve written almost nothing about the details of what I do in my work. I’ve been rather purposeful about this, but that could change at some point. So, to answer the question- no I haven’t made the effort to expose people to the science that I do- so I don’t think I have attracted that kind of audience, no.

* Do you think any non-blogger cares about any of the above things?

Maybe, maybe not. I am sure I have lots of readers who are NOT bloggers, and I think some of them do come here to see that it is possible to have a tenure track career and have kids. I think actually watching someone go through an experience that you are having too, or considering having,  is very powerful motivation to keep going, to realize you aren’t the only one, and to realize what is possible.

I’ll be back more regularly soon, I promise.



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5 thoughts on “In the spirit of constructive opinion sharing…

  1. Well put. I have to think more on this “boring” thing though because in one sense it is a truism but in another sense is an ALERT, if we are trying to recommend new media approaches to more traditional academic structures.

    Easy for me to say “aaah, different strokes” when evaluating which blogs my eye just slips away from but perhaps there are indeed consistent elements that we can identify.

  2. DM- Seriously. There are some blogs where I feel like the topics and discussion sound the same over and over. I want to like them, I want to read them, I slowly and reluctantly give up when the conversation/subject matter doesn’t progress.

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