On Blogging and “The Grind”March 3, 2011
The SAA (Society for American Archaeology, not the Society for American Archivists – boy it’s weird to have feet in multiple disciplines and have to sort out the acronyms) is having a session about academic blogging at its upcoming meetings, and I’ve seen several posts previewing the conversation recently. Today’s, from Shawn Graham, is about “the grind” of blogging, the instant feedback of the hit counter and site statistics, and how blogging can be exhausting and take time away from other important areas of academic work.
I started this blog for a couple of reasons. First, because there wasn’t anything like it out there (there are lots of librarian blogs, a few classicist blogs, but nobody was blogging about classics librarianship.) But also, because I wanted a way to force myself to seriously examine the existing research resources UGA had for classics scholarship, sub-topic by sub-topic. I know myself, and the best way to make me accomplish a task like working through the chapters of Fred W. Jenkins’ guide, Classical Studies: A Guide to the Reference Literature, is to set a schedule and commit to doing it publicly. So for me, while sometimes it is a “grind” to track down which mythology dictionaries UGA owns, which Jenkins recommends, and pull them off the shelves for my own assessment, it’s also a really vital part of my professional work. The fact that I do it in public is, I hope, useful to others as well as to me.
All of which is not to say that I don’t get a thrill from checking my site statistics. I am fascinated at how Google has indexed this blog and now seems to regard me as an authority on certain subjects (usually the subjects I know least about); I know that if I link a post of mine from Facebook I get an instant hit bump; I am stunned by how many people are Googling for “bing scholar” (176 hits on my blog come from that search alone – it is by far the most popular search string that brings me visitors). But this blog is more than that – it’s bred another project, the Ancient World Open Bibliographies; it’s gotten me involved in learning about a lot of online tools for classics research and thinking about digital projects in the humanities and how online communication is beginning to shape academic structures; I can’t know, but I hope, that it has provided a service to the scholarly community in classics as well as the random Googlers.