reasons to blog

I generally hate blog posts about blogging, so I guess I’ll hate this one. Mainly, I just want to share this terrific article from American Scientist. The main point of the article is that researchers learn their craft better by writing about it, specifically, by explaining their work to people that don’t work in their field. One of my old managers was almost entirely full of crap, but one thing that he repeatedly said was that if you can’t explain your work to someone that doesn’t know anything about it, then you don’t understand it yourself. There are a couple of fields that might be exceptions to this, but in the main I think this is true. So I think that’s one good reason for academics (or anyone!) to write a blog – it makes you better at communicating your ideas, and it makes it easier for these ideas to spread.

The second good reason is that writing is thinking. A lot of the time we don’t really know what we think about an idea until we write it out. Blogging is a great way to do this. Lilia Efimova has just finished a PhD looking at this, and her conclusion is that blogs are useful as ‘personal thinking space’. In my personal experience, this is very true, and another good reason to write more consistently, for either a general audience or for your peers. I’ve tried out a lot of ideas here first that I’ve ended up using as examples in lectures, and also a couple that will end up in papers at some point.

The last good reason to write all the time (and accessably) is that it helps avoid the syndrome where academics show ‘a fondness for collecting a salary and getting away with as little intellectual intercourse as possible‘. It’s a great way to engage, and I think we should all be looking for more of these.

So what are you waiting for? Start a blog now!

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

3 thoughts on “reasons to blog

  1. Tim,

    I think that one can get greater benefit from blogging by combining it with a wiki. The benefit is obvious, while the blog allows you to do a stream-of-consciousness thinking, a wiki forces you to bring it together into a cohesive picture.

    This is probably more important to system-builders (like myself) but I think it is useful to show how your blogs discussions are having a tangible effect on your ideas (by linking wiki changes to individual blogs entries.)

    I have come to think of my wikis as my virtual office spaces. They are messy sometimes but that’s where I do most of my work. Perhaps blogs are more like discussions in the virtual cafeteria?

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