In this post, I would like to focus on the few ways in which the blogosphere and social media more generally help junior scholars. I will use myself as an example.
It is not easy for me to reach out to senior colleagues and start a dialogue. I find it much easier to respond to a blog post they publish than to email them out of the blue. Right before last ISA, I contacted a senior scholar about his guest post on the Duck. He replied in the kindest manner possible. And I had the privilege to have lunch with him at ISA. I am very thankful.
I am interested in meeting new colleagues, finding collaborators, and making new friends. But networking is not my forte. Even though I have only contributed a handful of posts to the Duck thus far, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with a few contemporaries. I look forward to meeting them in person at upcoming conferences.
Remember the times you had to dine alone at conferences because you didn’t know anyone other than your graduate school friends. I had my fair share of isolated nights. I didn’t enjoy eating alone in my hotel room. I and many others, I think, will have pleasant dinners at conferences thanks to the social media.
Academic blogs also help me stay connected to the field. I have heavy teaching responsibilities. I admit that I am not always on top of what is hot in all the subfields during the academic year. Blogs give me an idea of what I should read during the summer months. And as Jon mentioned, blog posts make good reading materials in some courses.
Facilitating a sense of community is another contribution of the blogosphere. A few people told me that they appreciated the simple post I wrote about letter of recommendation requests. The post signaled to them that they weren’t alone. Their feedback signaled to me that I wasn’t out there.
Academic blogs also offer a great opportunity to junior scholars to figure out how things work. Colleagues generously share their experiences on social media. Some offer advice. I continue to learn from them. I am glad I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
I think junior faculty and grad students have a lot of reason to support the ISA “Online Media Caucus.” Thank you Steve and others for coming up with this proposal.