Monday, April 11, 2011

On Academic Blogging

Since starting my own blog, I have been reading several others and I am always coming across new anthropology related/inspired blogs. Recently I've been looking at what others have decided on as the proper format or content for such an academic blog. One blogger (identified only as O.W.), identifies four different types of "anthropological blogging" (O.W. 2007):

Popular – geared towards a non-academic audience.
Diary/Journal – mix between public consumption, and random notebook (fieldnotes posted online) [ie this blog]
Collaborative group blogs – sharing a site. increased visibility, community.
Professional – Having high quality, disciplined, well researched, and citable information.
As I read this, I wondered where my blog fell on that spectrum, or if those categories are all-inclusive of every kind of anthropological blog in existence. (I am sad that s/he doesn't provide a citation). Because while I try to provide as many and as valuable citations as I can and do some reporting on anthropological issues, there are parts that are most definitely informal (I can hardly see this entry as publishable, for instance).

So that leaves me to wonder where my blog fits in and what my blog's purpose is. Initially when I wrote my first entry, I wanted it to be more professional. But for the same reasons I've found I've been drawn to autoethnography, I am also drawn to making this blog more personalized to include my own career paths as well as observations about current projects.

Another blog, specifically about blogging for clarity on fieldnotes, writes this (Cicilie 1996):

This brings me to a question some people have asked me; is your blog your fieldnotes? No, my notes don’t look like my blog at all. My fieldnotes are very sketchy and cover a vast array of themes, and they’re not at all as coherent and focused as I try to make the posts in the blog. The texts here can perhaps be described as somewhere between fieldnotes and academic texts in terms of stringency, but not in terms of analysis. My posts are meant to be descriptive rather than analytic. (I’m not in that phase on the project yet.) The idea is to describe the process of discovery that I’m going through during my stay here. This includes ethnographic discovery, as well as day-do-day theoretical and methodological reflections.

I like the idea of "ethnographic discovery."  It's fun, and it suggests a work in progress, a process of "becoming" (Butler 2004). She also adds that blogging about her fieldnotes "sharpens the attention." I have found this also to be true, because while fieldnotes is more akin to journal writing, blogging about fieldwork experiences can add more depth of understanding to your experience than just taking some notes and moving on.

What about using facebook, texts, and other "New Media" (Gershon 2010) to write one's fieldnotes or at least part of them? Haven't found any blogs or traditional sources for that idea. Perhaps that's too radical to say out loud just yet.


Butler, Judith
2004   Undoing Gender. London: Routledge.

2006   My blog, my project and I, part 1. Accessed April 11, 2011.

Gershon, Ilana
2010   The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

2007   Kinds of anthropological blogging. Accessed April 11, 2011.

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