Tuesday, August 5, 2008

blogging = networking....right??

My fiancé has been reading and participating in various physical therapy blogs for about two years now...and for the longest time I couldn't figure out why.  I honestly thought that blogs were around to allow people to discuss what they had for breakfast...or how they saved a kitty from the pound.  I was surprised when he told me that people wanted to meet him at conferences because of his blog postings.  

O.o  

I had no idea that there was such a world of information, intelligence, innovation, and all kinds of other 'i' words.  But more than that....these bloggers have found friends, held meetings, and thus networked all through the internet.  Whoa...you mean I can meet potential colleagues year round and not just at a conference????

So my first question is: Why don't we teach about the usefulness of blogs at universities, industries, etc?  They can be a wonderful tool that can aid in branching out and getting aquatinted with future collaborators/mentors/employers as well as learning about cutting edge research.  So WHY NOT BLOG??  Is it scary??  Or just misunderstood??

And my second question is often debated among bloggers:  Is it better to use your real name or a clever pseudonym??  I know that it depends on what you want outta your blogging experience...and as networking was a huge component to mine, i chose to use the name that my momma gave me...but i would like to hear ya'lls take on this issue.  For example: Is it common to have both names...so that you can remain anonymous when need be but also have your real name around for networking purposes?  Can you still network with a fake name? 

20 comments:

Hermitage said...

I'm using my blog as an outlet for my extremely poor self-esteem, something I think wouldn't be best to reveal in the workplace. That and I'm very fond of all caps, which is not very refined or scientific of me.

maddox22 said...

I think a blog (if it's well executed) can be an excellent networking tool. And if you plan to use it as such, I would say using your real name is not out of the question--but if you do use your real name, and you use your blog as a networking tool, make sure your blog doesn't contain anything you wouldn't want associated with your professionally.

I don't have my own blog (although I've thought about starting one). But if I did, I think I would probably have separate blogs: one for professional materials (i.e., stuff I'd want potential employers to see) and a separate one for personal matters. I'd use my real name for the professional one, and a pseudonym for the personal one.

(Incidentally, the only reason I'm not using my real name on this blog is in case my current employer stumbles upon it. I prefer to keep my job search to myself for now.)

Science Cog said...

Your question is a tough one that I've grappled with. I'm closing my blog as I cannot justify doing something so time-consuming that doesn't appear in my tenure dossier. I started a personal blog where I whine about my attempts to loose weight and keep track of what I eat. Why in public? I don't know. Gen X and below have an exhibitionist streak I suppose.

Pablo Achard said...

You might be interested by this point of view. It is centered around academia but I believe it is still relevant for the questions you ask:
http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/meta/tenure-blog-prosper-2008.html

Epicanis said...

"Why don't we teach about the usefulness of blogs at universities, industries, etc?"
My suspicion is that it's just too "newfangled". I suspect most people who currently would be in charge of potentially teaching such things views blogging the same way they do "wikipedia" - it's "amateur" and therefore bad.

(Personally, I think wikipedia is a great place to start looking for information. It's just a BAD place to STOP looking...)

Rhea Miller said...

it's "amateur" and therefore bad.

That's certainly what im afraid of...sigh...

Thanks for the link Pablo!! I <3 John Hawks' perspectives and style...

Epicanis ( http://www.bigroom.org/wordpress ) said...

I find myself often somewhat disgusted by some people's condescending reactions to "amateur" work. After all, as Paul Graham once pointed out, an "amateur" is by definition someone who does something because they want to.

I'd feel more comfortable trusting a dedicated amateur than a "professional" who simply memorized some answers for a certification test only in order to collect a paycheck.

Obviously, I tend to think blogs are valuable sources of information provided one is willing to do some basic fact-checking (and I think writing a blog is a useful exercise in communications.)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Blogging is totally networking!

I started blogging using a pseudonym, but then linked to a couple of my research papers, at which point I was no longer anonymous. Plus I used my personal blog in a job application, before it became so silly.

I started using my real name on a second blog (I was invited to start blogging on the Nature Network site and thought I'd be mental to use a pseudonym there), which blew my alleged cover even further. I still make sure that my full real name stays off my personal blog, even though it's already linked to it - it's much less likely to come up near the top of a Google search that way (luckily I have a very common name). Also, while I do post some very very silly stuff, I make sure I never write anything that I wouldn't want my colleagues to read.

The Mad Chemist said...

Since I write a lot about work in my blog, I blog pseudonymously at least for the time being.

But I know people who use their blogs quite successfully as a networking tool and many don't use their real name.

DrugMonkey said...

It is possible to blog pseudonymously and still network as real-you. It would not be as broad based but many pseud bloggers are "out" to a close circle of fellow bloggers. Others have become an open secret either with or without trivial google-linking.

I'm still on the fence with respect to whether this is something that will become an accepted part of the academic biz or not. One thing I am having a VERY hard time getting past is that I lived through the "what is this waste-of-time email crap for" and "why are you wasting your time creating them new-fangled web pages?". Can you imagine your academic life without either of those technologies?

Mad Hatter said...

testing

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Mad Hatter said...

There's something funny going on with this comment thread. A bunch of comments vanished, and when I left a "testing" comment, mine did not show up, but some of the previously vanished ones reappeared.

Yes, I've checked the blog and post settings, and this didn't happen on a different post I tested. Anyone have any idea what's going on???

Mad Hatter said...

testing 2

The bean-mom said...

I've been blogging under a pseudonym and it's already helped me in networking--as Cath at VWXYnot? can testify (thanks again, Cath!) I just called her last night for advice on a writing position I am interviewing for...

So yes, I think blogging can be a valuable networking tool, and you can do it under a pseudonym. But as others here have pointed out, it's hard to be truly anonymous, and you'll probably have to "come out" at some point to take true advantage of the networking possibilites...

Sarah said...

I sort of wish I used my real name because I think I could be making stronger connections with some people if we new what one another did or lived. But I really, really like being able to be candid.

I'm going to start a new blog with some colleagues all about our subfield, which will not be anonymous. I'm looking forward to writing more about my science there.

microbiologist xx said...

I would prefer to blog using my real name, but the main reason I do not is because I do not want to cause any problems for my current lab. We work on a select agent pathogen (that you may have heard about in the news) and I would hate to make some flippant remark that comes back to haunt my advisor. I am probably being paranoid, but better safe the sorry.

Yttrai said...

If we're collecting data...

I am not a blogger, and i can't imagine i ever will be. I just don't have enough to say on any specific subject. I DO however network as best i can, far beyond my safety zone. A blog as a networking tool would push me FAR into the realm of insanity.

So i think the motivations behind a blog, be they personal or professional, might be as varied and personal as pretty much any other choice any of us makes on the job.

:)