The academic uses of blogging

In keeping with the self-referential character of the blogosphere, a recent post and article has pointed to one use of blogs that I hadn’t considered.

Majikthise has a post on Quine; it’s a defense of Epistemology Naturalized. The post seems quite sensible, but the post is also interesting in light of what she does and one apparent reason for it.

“Currently, I’m collaborating on a moral psychology experiment about ordinary speaker’s use of the term ‘intentionally’. I’m also working on a paper about Quine, analyticity and gay marriage, a philosophical analyss of ‘media bias’ arguments, and some other more traditional projects.”

It ends with “I’d be very grateful for feedback on the above sketch.”

It may point a growing trend, the use of blogs for academic research. This Guardian piece discusses the trend.

“Creating a blog to track the progress of your PhD thesis might seem like the ultimate delaying tactic – a way to avoid ever actually writing the thing itself. But for Esther MacCallum-Stewart, currently doing a D.Phil thesis on popular culture during the first world war at the University of Sussex, the opposite has been true. She began blogging about her thesis ( in February 2002, initially to keep track of the ideas she was developing. ‘I realised I was making notes all over the place, and they weren’t making any sense at all.'”

The trend seems very related to what you find in academic blogs such as Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal, Crooked Timber, and a Fistful of Euros–often thoughtful discussions of issues but in a format that lets you track and search them easily. It’s an altogether different type from the references/filters of Arts and Letters Daily or SciTechDaily, and from the passing but definitive judgment without argument (often with failed wit of the “Sontag Award Nominee” sort) one finds in Andrew Sullivan or Wonkette. All in all, a positive trend, I would say.