Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why I blog

As a way to think about my work, the way I do it and what I want to come from it. I don't think blogging adds directly to my scientific progress, but I do think my writing here helps me identify what is important for me and deal with the obstacles I meet along the road. I also benefit significantly from the inspiration I get from other bloggers, especially those who are further ahead in the game than I. Blogging allows me to take time to ponder on how I want my life to be, which direction I want my career to take and how to get to where I wish to be. Maybe being more aware of my wishes and goals also makes me a better scientist - eventually.

As a way to articulate unfinished or unpolished thoughts on the work I do, the career I have chosen and other aspects of life. Sometimes I say something in a meeting or to a person that I already talked about here and get surprised at how easily I manage to express my thoughts on the subject. I think the blog also works as a sort of trial run and helps me be more precise when I express my opinions on some thing or other.

As a way to share experiences with a community of equally-minded people. Most of my close friends are not academics, and there are many things I don't feel comfortable discussing with my colleagues (at least not as long as my long-term position is unsecured and some of us might be competitors for jobs). I also think that by letting my experiences become part of the information accessible to everyone, maybe they will come in handy for someone out there who is going through something similar.

And why pseudonymously?

To protect the innocent. This blog does not only offer a window into my life, but also to many other's who don't know they are appearing here and who have not chosen this kind of exposure.

To protect my workplace and everybody associated with it. The feeling one gets from reading blogs and other academic websites/ discussion forums is that the similarities between institutions are greater than the differences. Archetypical PIs, administrators, advisers, professors, students, postdocs and staff researchers seem to populate academia and research institutes around the globe. I don't think it would make any positive difference if the exact location of my workplace and the identities of the people I work with was known. I think blogs are interesting on a general level, not because I need to know exactly who the nice boss or the angry coworker is.

To keep the blog off a Google search on my real name. This is a personal space and not a part of my professional identity. I don't want this page to show up in Google if I apply for a grant or a job or is looking for collaborators for a research project. It is not so much about hiding the other way around. There are people reading this blog who know me in real life, and others I have never met, but who I have shared emails and pictures with previously. If you happen to find out who I am or where I am I don't mind all that much, but it would be nice if you let me know that you're reading.

This post will be moved to the sidebar as a permalink when it drops off the page.



At 10:48 PM, Blogger Propter Doc said...

Great post. Most of your reasons are the same as my reasons, particularly surrounding anonymity. I find that it helps keep a sense of perspective which is too easy to loose, particularly late at night when you are working hard.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Amelie said...

You list a couple of very interesting points both for blogging and for anonymity. I sometimes regret my blog is not so very pseudonymous, because it keeps me from blogging about some things I'd like to. The whole thing just didn't start as "Amelie in science"; maybe if I did it over again I'd change some of those aspects.
As someone who's just in the middle of the PhD, your experiences are very interesting for me, so thanks for blogging!

At 12:43 AM, Blogger michael webster said...

I came across this blog while searching for the term "rising to the occasion".

Blogging privately is like separating a coal from the fire.

No matter how brightly the coal burns, eventually it must go out long before the rest of the fire does.

Critical mass theory in application.

Hope you change your mind about being anonymous and revive this blog -which looks interesting.


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