If anyone wants to know why the early players get all of the
attention, it's because RSS feeds focus on people, not ideas, and the
early players are too overloaded with following the other early players
to consider new people.
Andrew Chen writes
about his ambivalence, as a researcher who blogs, towards writing
academic papers. It struck a chord with me - I've had very similar
[...] what I blog about now, can be read about now and processed now - but what goes
to a paper or whatnot for some conference just sits and waits until then - and
gets the (smaller?) audience of the attendees, etc…. I arguably get a little bit
more prestige out of it, and it becomes something I can put on a “list of
published works” (assuming the darn thing gets accepted anyway), but I have a
feeling that the prestige and “list of published works” comes at a price of it
coming out slower and to what might not necessarily be the most apt
In my experience, if what you're into is interdisciplinary,
emerging-stuff research, as far as impact is concerned you're better
off blogging your ideas. When you do, it tends to generate trails of
links that automagically attract interested people from many different
directions (given a critical mass of bloggers who care about your
general area of interest), which enables your ideas to grow and sparks
On the paper/conference scene, from the outset you face the problem of
choosing a specialized forum, which likely does not match your ideal
audience very well. And even if your submission is accepted there's a
fair chance that it won't generate much interest or useful feedback
(apart from a couple reviews by people who probably don't care much).
In such a case all you'll get from the extra effort is an extra line on
your academic CV.
I feel that unless you're pursuing research that fits within a somewhat
mature line of inquiry, a research blog is to traditional means of
disseminating research as eBay is to yard sales: given equal effort,
your odds of getting what you need are much better.
"something that I'm trying understand is the process that people go
through to reach a higher level of caring for human beings outside of
their immediate circle. I think that this process holds the key for
some of the important contributions that technologies can make."
1. The Internet is full of weird people. Like science fiction,
technology and RPGs, the Internet since its earliest days has attracted
people who didn't fit in with the local norm, who sought community
online -- the alt. heirarchy is like a roadmap of locally socially
unacceptable hobbies, practices and beliefs that migrated to the net.
This has its pluses and its minuses, but the net always framed itself
as a place where you could come and woo your muse of the odd with other
oddfellows, so no surprise, really, that it's full of people facing
inwards, talking about their own heterodoxy.
2. The Internet makes you weird. The ability to browse all the
possible kinks, find the ones that tickles your pink, and dive in, free
from socially normative disapprobation, is a fast ticket to becoming
One Of Us. No one is *really* a "mundane," but many people button
themselves up and pass -- even to themselves. The net's seductive lure
is to join the kink SIG that corresponds to your inner Imp of the
Perverse and shut out everyone who would have you know that you're a
perv for being *really* into, you know, rubber or chess or Klingons.
I recall conversing with Tom Munnecke
on how one can view blogging as a personal "coming out" experience,
going public with what was once private. And I think this process that
many people are undergoing has the effect of speeding up the change and
diversification of overt personal practices and social norms. While
this might be scary to some, in my view it is a good thing, as it
allows us to
be aware of how many others are different from, and similar to us;
be less afraid of behaving in ways that are closer to who we really are; and
make meaningful connections with strangers that we would otherwise have never found out about.
Coming to terms with who we are is crucial to well-being, and though it might not be necessary, I have no doubt that
speaking out can be helpful - for more on that see "Using a blog for
[Update: Just found this post by Andrew Chen
which seems related. In it he states that “normal” people will probably
never blog. Which makes me wonder if normality is the same as